March 18, 2007

From the official NCAA site, we have a confirmation on Thursday’s game time.

I’ll take it over the 3:00 pm start that places like ESPN and Fox Sports had listed originally. Not sure why they would list what seems like a random time anyways.

That makes a lot more sense.

Comment by fred 03.18.07 @ 8:43 pm

Chas & Dennis – Thanks for running this site! I am not sure that you get the thanks that you deserve. Being a diehard Pitt fan (that even some of my fellow alumni can’t understand) I only recently found this blog and you provide us with a shared experience of our fandom and sometimes an outlet for our collective frustrations.
I have never been much of a blogster, but really enjoy every post you guys put up here. Keep up the good work. Let’s hope Pitt BBall gives us more and more reason to blather for good reason.
Thanks for aggregating so much great information and giving us a forum for fun and meaningful banter. It is much appreciated. Respect.

Comment by Desmondo 03.18.07 @ 10:32 pm

I found the quote from Dixon talking about how Howland didn’t think we could do any better – in fact, he didn’t think we could even continue to do as well as we did with him here:

Dixon: “All of those jobs, I never called them. I never put out any feelers. I was comfortable with where I was at. Part of it was I didn’t feel like the job was done here. I thought there was more to be done here.

“To be honest, Ben didn’t think we could sustain it. He took less money to go to another job, what most people would consider a better job. I’ve always seen more in this than other people did. I have higher expectations than anybody for this job. I know no one thought we could do what we’re doing.”

“This doesn’t happen unless I’m at a place like the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve understood that. I knew that before other people knew. I’ve always thought this place had more to offer than other people thought.”

link to

He also said that on the radio show after the game. For someone as PC and nice as Dixon, these are pretty harsh words: “To be honest, Ben didn’t think we could sustain it.” Fuck him. Let’s kill some bruins.

Comment by Stuart 03.18.07 @ 10:51 pm

Stuart, Thanks for digging this up. I agree these are fairly tough remarks coming from Dixon. that’s why when you first mentioned it I was surprised I had never heard this before. Very interesting and makes me think better of Dixon and our ability to keep him at Pitt.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.18.07 @ 10:55 pm

See, Howland could have been the Bo Schembechler, or Dean Smith, JoePa (blecchh), Coach K, etc of Pitt basketball by simply staying with the program that he built. You know, the coach that builds and sustains a bigtime program, and therefore becomes synonymous with it.

But instead, he gave that role to Jamie Dixon in order to go to UCLA and live in John Wooden’s shadow like everyone who coaches out there will until the end of time.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my dad 03.18.07 @ 11:25 pm

Anyone who cares to look at the archives will find many of us on the fence with regard to Dixon’s ability to lead as HC.

The decision in favor of retaining & hiring Dixon for the job… “included Julius Page and Jaron Brown [who] went to the Pitt administration and lobbied for Dixon to succeed Howland.”

It all seemed — at the time and until recently — too convenient (for the players and admin., esp.).

Most who commented at that time haven’t changed their positions much.

Thanks for resurfacing that story, Stuart.

…helps remind and put into perspective the gd. fortune and success of the program, easily discarded in wake of a loss.

Comment by Neil 03.18.07 @ 11:38 pm

Most who commented at that time haven’t changed their positions much.

…(or rather, remain avid in their support of Dixon)

Comment by Neil 03.18.07 @ 11:47 pm

I just hope our players are mad as hell and go out there and take it to them.

The funny part is, I think the only media person in the world on our side is JA Adande of the LA Times – what does he know that no one else does?

I also hope Gray comes out and has a day that earns him all that money back that he lost in the Georgetown game. UCLA is like this in a lot of ways – when they’re off, their shooting is terrible. Hopefully we’re not the ones with the off day.

Everyone is taking UCLA – the early line has already moved from 2 to 3…and the game is still 3 days away.

Comment by Stuart 03.19.07 @ 12:36 am

Yes I have been a Fan of Dixon and will continue to be a fan. He brings good tough kids here who give the team everything they have every night. You can’t ask for much more from a coach then that. This year we have kids diving on the floor after every loose ball and working to find someone with the open shot on every possession. No prima donnas on this PITT team. They are a blue collar, hard working team that over achieves.
I wish I could say these same things about our football program. It’s funny that many people here who are (were) quick to second guess the choice of Dixon or still think he has something to prove as a coach are quick to back Dave W and his staff who have yet to show that they have any coaching abilities outside of recruiting good running backs.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.19.07 @ 12:41 am

Oh by the way! F the West coast,F The Governator, F Hollywood living, F The valley girls that comprise the team from UCLA, and F Ben Howland!

Don’t forget Ben Howland left. We didn’t ask him to leave. He wanted to be the man at UCLA. Let’s hope he regrets that decision a little on Friday morning.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.19.07 @ 12:49 am

Oh by the way! F the West coast, F The valley girls that comprise the team from UCLA, and…”

I have (USC, Bev. Hills particularly) and you should too. No Internet front here, either. Admittedly, though, CAS ’93 and the career’s over + married.

G’night, Godspeed Pitt.

Comment by Neil 03.19.07 @ 1:13 am

And it’s back in Monday’s Post Gazette:

link to

“In an interview a month ago with the Post-Gazette, Dixon revealed that one of the reasons Howland left Pitt was because he didn’t feel like he could sustain the success he had attained during his four seasons as coach. He felt like he had taken the program as far as it could go.

Dixon made it known that he thought there were greater heights for the program to achieve.”

Comment by Stuart 03.19.07 @ 1:55 am

The other late game on Thursday is Ohio State and Tennessee. I really hope the CBS station in the DC picks the Pitt-UCLA game.

Comment by Sean 03.19.07 @ 7:16 am

It will be interesting during his press conference when they ask Howland about Dixon’s quote. I’ll bet Howland backs away from that view now.

Comment by TMGPanther 03.19.07 @ 7:36 am

i’m not sure i have the same animosity towards howland that you guys have……he did an amazing job revitalizing a program that, when i was in school, was horrible……he recruited dixon to come here, and the two of them have given me a very memorable 8 yrs………..

with that said, i want to win this game more then anything…i dont care if kansas beats us by 40….i want this one badly…..

Comment by Schoe 03.19.07 @ 8:12 am

I’ve definitely not been one of Dixon’s biggest fans, but I will give him his due. In the BET and the first few games of the NCAA tourney, he has had this team more focused, he showed he was willing to adapt by going to the zone against Marquette, he has gotten the players to stop settling for jump shots.

Overall, the whole team has come along. Kendall has been making solid contributions on offense, Cook has been making 3s, FTs, and getting rebounds. Graves is channeling Julius Page on defense. Sam Young is much more patient on offense. It’s been great to see. Fields has not been as solid, particularly his shooting, but we’re still a much better team when he’s on the floor running the show.

If all of this continues and Gray can come up big, I think we have a very good chance against UCLA. The early part of the game will be very important. Can’t come out flat. And Gray has to let the game come to him. He can’t try to force shots in an effort to establish himself.

Jesus, Thursday can’t come soon enough.

Comment by Carmen 03.19.07 @ 8:30 am

What the hell did Howland say that was so bad? It IS tougher to build a hoops program in Pittsburgh than at UCLA. Did you ever think that maybe he was just being honest and felt that he had done as much as HE could do.

Look, he’s a west coast guy and he went back for the one job that every west coast college basketball coach covets. He did a great job while he was here.

As for the rest of the anti west-coast rants, they just make Pitt fans sound jealous and provincial. It’s not like we need to create bitterness to get excited about this game.

Comment by frankinchicago 03.19.07 @ 9:33 am

I don’t care that Howland left. You just don’t negotiate a contract in the days leading up to the biggest game in program history. He was still the head coach at Pitt and the season was not over. Pitt had given him a chance and the sweet 16 game deserved his full attention. He had no business conducting secret meetings and negotiating with a shoe company. All of his energy should have been focused on beating Marquette. That is not honest or classy. It is despicable and a disservice to all of the players on the team, the assistant coaches, alumni, administration and fans.

Comment by Omar 03.19.07 @ 9:41 am

I agree, Howland was good for this program, but handled his business poorly during that NCAA run. Everyone knows there are contracts to negotiate, but fulfill the contract you signed first. As for Dixon, I have not been a supporter of his game time coaching, but will say, I have been impressed these first two games of the tourney. I have not found myself critizing once, and it is not because they have won. HAIL TO PITT!!!! Maybe this is the game we get some good fortune and get over the hump. kevin.

Comment by drgags 03.19.07 @ 10:18 am

I won’t jump on the Howland-hating bandwagon.

So, he didn’t think he could sustain Pitt’s success. You know, at the time, I don’t think I was sure she could either.

He negotiated with UCLA during the Tournament? Where did this information come from? Even if he did, it wasn’t why Pitt lost to Marquette. Wade was why Pitt lost to Marquette — last I checked he was a decent basketball basketball player.

If Dixon is still okay with Howland than I am okay with Howland. His daughter still goes to Pitt, he still is friends with Dixon, etc.

Enjoy the game. No need to rip someone else down, especially someone who, if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t even be playing in this game.

Comment by Keith 03.19.07 @ 11:35 am

Bullshit! It is why Pitt lost to Marquette. Zavackas’ temper tantrum was directly related to his secret negotiations. He said something to Howland in the huddle and that is why he was benched. Marquette barely beat their first round opponent that year and was not a better team. Zavackas was Pitt’s best three point shooter and a very good help defender. He would have helped win that game without question. Howland could have told UCLA to wait until after the tournament. I don’t have any animosity towards him leaving. However, anyone calling him classy or honest is out of their effin mind.

Comment by Omar 03.19.07 @ 11:43 am

my real question is why is it that Howland didnt think he could sustain success at Pitt? Every program starts somewhere and he had a great pipeline of talent from New York. It was kind of taking a shot at Pitt the way it sounded – thats why I think so many of us took the comment personal. But anyway who cares, Howland is the past. I hope we can stick it to him Thursday night.

Comment by Rex 03.19.07 @ 12:26 pm

I don’t have a problem with him leaving whatever the reason (dream job, better hoops environment) but I do really believe it affected the team against Marquette (even with Wade).

That was our best team (by far) during the Howland/Dixon era to date.

Comment by scoocher 03.19.07 @ 12:37 pm

Everybody wants to pin the loss on D. Wade. Marquette barely got out of the first round that year, by the way. If not for Zavackas losing his mind we would have won that game. Why did Zavackas get benched one might ask? He said something to Howland about the UCLA job in a huddle. Howland was right to bench him, but it cost us the game. Zavackas was our best three point shooter and a very good defender. Pitt was winning the game handily before he got benched. The Zavackas brain cramp was a direct result of the UCLA negotiations with Howland. For this I blame the head coach. The team should not have been distracted in any way. This simply was not the case in the days leading up to that game.

Comment by Omar 03.19.07 @ 12:51 pm

Ungrateful bunch!

You should all be thanking the Gods that you were in the path of Ben Howland to Westwood. Many programs in the nation would kill to have a couch like Howland use them as a stepping stone. Just be grateful that it was you! And enjoy the benefits (back in the sweet 16 and the national media) of his pass thru in Pitt.

As for the Zavackas incident, even he knows HE was in the wrong. Read this article:

link to

“Zavackas said he felt “real bad” the day after the game and is forever thankful for the talk he had with Howland that afternoon.”

Comment by LuiDAbruin 03.19.07 @ 2:46 pm

I know Z was good at shooting 3-pointers, but… I think his percentage was far from 100-percent.

If Z was in the game who says he would have gotten the ball? Wo says he would have gotten the shot? Who says it would have gone in?

I honestly don’t think Howland had malicious intent in is dealings with Pitt.

I don’t know why we (Pitt fans) need to try so hard to hate those who helped (and are still helping)us to get here . Hatred towards Krauser, hatred towards Gray, hatred towards Howland. Seriously, get over it. I just don’t understand it.

Comment by Keith 03.19.07 @ 3:04 pm

For the record, I like Gray, I like Krauser, but I don’t think Howland handled the situation like a professional. That is simply my opinion.

For the record Zavackas shot in the mid forties from three.

Comment by Omar 03.19.07 @ 3:39 pm

Pitt could have used Zavackas on the floor, but they were already down to Marquette before the dust-up. I saw that Marquette team play in the Final 4 that year in New Orleans and having Wade just gave them a dimension Pitt didn’t have. Plus, Wade had Diener, Novak and Robert Jackson (and some other big bodies) alongside him.

All coaches will drop their grandmother down a well for the next job they want, so we shouldn’t be surprised at anything they do.

Comment by tiger paul 03.19.07 @ 4:11 pm


I agree with you on the Howland situaion. I actually still like Howland and think he was good for Pitt. I just don’t like the way he handled his departure. It was his approach that tarnished his image. Are you saying Z said something to Howland in the huddle about the UCLA gig?

I’m also a little tired of hearing how we wouldn’t be in San Jose if it wasn’t for Howland. That’s BS. This is JD’s team and he is the reeason we are in the sweet 16. By the way UCLA wouldn’t be in the sweet 16 if it wasn’t for John Wooden!!!

Comment by TMGPanther 03.19.07 @ 5:28 pm

I don’t understand how anyone can defend Howland for thinking that we couldn’t even sustain the program. The last time I checked, upstate New York wasn’t a hotbed of talent and a major contender when their last head coach arrived, but Boeheim has stuck that out. How bout Storrs Mansfield, CT? Another hotbed when the coach got there? Final Fours every year? I see Calhoun has stuck that one out. Gee, I can’t find where those were amazing programs before their coaches got there. They both should have jumped ship as soon as a bigger program opened up, right? I can’t say Howland isn’t/wasn’t a good BASKETBALL COACH, but he’s a bitch when it comes to his character. He handled the negotiations like a bitch and he didn’t tell his players he’s leaving like a bitch.

BTW, that Donatis article STILL doesn’t go into the reason that Howland say him. In fact it refutes every reason EXCEPT saying something about UCLA to Howland. Find where that is refuted anywhere.

I don’t like people who use the University of Pittsburgh and essentially dog them when they leave.

Good for Dixon for being a better person than I am. I don’t think that guy gets mad at anyone. That’s still not a repsonse to Howland is a bitch.

Comment by Stuart 03.19.07 @ 6:31 pm

And BTW LuidaBRUIN –

I think we should thank the AD Pederson for recognizing TALENT. In the end, he had more to do with turning this program around then Howland – he chose Howland, not the other way around. And how about we thank Dixon for being able to *scrape by* with this UNSUSTAINABLE Pitt program.

Also, I didn’t see Howland laying any bricks or getting the funding/planning together to improve the facilities around here…. Any chance that has something to do with it?

Did Howland set up a summer league here? Do anything showing any interest in staying here in the long run? Or was he just waiting for Lavin to fail?

Comment by Stuart 03.19.07 @ 6:39 pm

And finally, I don’t give a fuck who’s coaching on Wooden’s Court. I just want to be standing on Dixon’s Court in 20 years, looking up at some banners.

Comment by Stuart 03.19.07 @ 6:41 pm

“And finally, I don’t give a fuck who’s coaching on Wooden’s Court. I just want to be standing on Dixon’s Court in 20 years, looking up at some banners.

Good luck with that one. You Pitt fans will run Dixon out of that job and you guys will be just as ungrateful to him as you have been to Ben.

But don’t worry! If you ever want to look up at some banners, I will gladly give you a tour of Pauley Pavilion.

And BTW it is “The Nell and John Wooden Court”. Just another prove of how much we appreciate and respect the people that helped making UCLA a great program. Maybe you guys should take note.

Comment by LuiDAbruin 03.21.07 @ 1:33 pm

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