March 25, 2013

In the recruiting game, sometimes it doesn’t pay to wait for late offers and sometimes it does. For Jon Severe, it worked out well. The shooting guard from Christ the King didn’t have a lot of offers at first. A 3-star recruit, had offers initially from middling A-10 programs like Rhode Island, GW and Fordham. He didn’t commit and saw his stock rise, including being named New York’s Mr. Basketball. He now has offers from Pitt, WVU, K-State, Creighton. No surprise Pitt and WVU are now after him considering both struggled with being able to score consistently this past year. He is a shooter and willing to drive.

He gets to the rim north to south as well as east to west with a quick first step and good economy of motion. He runs hard in transition, has dexterity putting the ball on the floor and finishing, and actually prefers to drive left. Severe is also a capable shot maker off the catch or the dribble with terrific shot preparation for a youngster.

As you would expect defense and consistency are the issues for him. He’s a bit on the small side for a shooting or wing guard at 6-2 — which was the primary reason he didn’t attract a lot of high-major interest. It’s not clear when he will make a decision. The number of offers swelled, so he appears to be re-evaluating everything.

On the Dixon extension, there is a bump in salary. But the reality is that it isn’t outrageous, especially given the competitive rate of pay these days.

The most recent tax filing by the university showed Dixon’s total compensation was $1.86 million for 2011. The new contract is worth more than $2 million in total compensation.

The raise will get Dixon in line with other coaches in the ACC, which receives more revenue from its television contract than the Big East did.

The $2 million price tag is in the area you see for Miami’s Jim Larranaga, FSU’s Leonard Hamilton, NC St.’s Mike Gottfried, ND’s Mike Brey, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon and bizarrely enough Wake’s Jeff Bzdelik.

The upper-end will be Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim.

Below the $2 million price tag are the recent hires at VT, BC, GT, Virginia.

I’m more interested in whether there’s more money for the assistants. I’m not particularly enamored with Bill Barton — as a coach or recruiter — but the money for assistants issue has been rumored to still be an issue. Pitt, historically (i.e., regardless of the AD) has been much tighter with the pursestrings when it comes to assistant coach compensation. We know that has been a battle in both the football and basketball sides.

Dixon’s extension also made players current and future happy.

Pitt recruit Josh Newkirk, a guard from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., learned of Dixon’s new deal Saturday night through a text message from Knight.

“That’s good because now I know he’s committed and not going anywhere, so now we can just worry about winning,” Newkirk said. “I heard the rumors and was very nervous. With the news of the extension, I was relieved.”

The most interesting thing is that for the first time, Dixon admitted to thinking about another job. Albeit, in terms of his family.

Dixon has a policy of not discussing job openings but didn’t deny that USC was attractive to him and his family.

His parents, Jim and Marge, who sat with Pederson behind Pitt’s bench in Salt Lake City, live in L.A. Dixon also heard from his wife, Jacqueline, who went to USC.

“That particular job, that is something that weighs on my mind,” Dixon said.

“My parents are advancing in age. Any child that has parents, that’s a concern.”

Dixon, however, also said that “Pitt and Pittsburgh are home.”

And there it is. He has been living in the ‘Burgh for 14 years. His children have been born and raised here. He may not be “native,” but his kids are. He may want to be there for them, but he has his own life. His own kids. Dixon has now turned down Arizona, Arizona St., Oregon and USC (twice). Considering UCLA will never go after him after Howland, it is hard to envision another West Coast job that could entice him.

Now that Pitt has settled its issues on the coaching carousel, it becomes a lot more fun to sit back and watch what other teams do — and judge the moves. As everyone knows (and knew it was coming), Ben Howland is out at UCLA. While all the attention is on who UCLA hires, there is the question of what Ben Howland does next.

He has a buyout of $2.3 mill plus another $300K/yr for the next 4 years. So he has options. One of the better suggestions for a job match for Howland, was Northwestern. That almost makes too much sense. Northwestern really needs a program builder. They do have the money to pay a decent salary. The style of play fits the Big Ten. And they desperately want to make the NCAA, yet aren’t insane about it.


My issue is that it took ANOTHER tournament disappointment for everyone to finally reach a conclusion that should have been obvious after watching the parade of questionable recruits over the past several years.

Who needed Smizik and Dokish to tell us this stuff? After watching Epps, J.Johnson, Wright and Woodall? Really?

Comment by hugh green 03.26.13 @ 7:34 am

hugh, even with all of the above, we had 2 No. 1 seeds in the previous 4 years … not too many schools can accomplish that.

The first No. 1 seed lost by 2 points to a team that made 21 of 22 free throws, and that had beaten No. 2 seed Duke by over 20 pts just 2 nights before. The next No. 1 seed lost by 1 point to a team that made it to the Final game (for the 2nd year in the row.)

With a recent history like this, there is no need to completely overhaul the program .. although there are obvious tweeks to be done

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 8:06 am

What makes anyone think Dixon will change? Pederson just gave the finger salute to the fan base with grinning Jamie by his side

Comment by TonyinHouston 03.26.13 @ 8:13 am

Main problem with Dokish is that this is a bit or revisionist history. For example:

– Dokish himself thought Epps was the second coming and many rankings had him in the top 100. Maryland, Texas, etc would have taken him. Even when his stock ‘plummeted’ he was still a 4-star recruit.

– Gibbs was never supposed to be very good. He was a 3-star recruit but Dixon happened to find him promising and he became a very good player (until he became a grump his senior yr).

There’s a number of these examples, and Dokish (as good as he can be) is pretending to be smarter than he actually was.

Agree with wbb and hugh (and whoever) that a big problem is Dixon playing guys out of position. A lot of this is circumstances and bad coincidences. Birch leaving, Epps not developing, Taylor not developing, John Johnson leaving. That Gilbert story is weird and i never heard it before but still.

But a big part of this is Dixon’s failure to re-stock the right positions. I mean we have like 4 small forwards, but only one center and maybe one SG.

Comment by PantherP 03.26.13 @ 8:48 am

Frankcan – I too, would like Adams to get some tutoring on the finer points of “back to the basket” offensive moves. There are no rules on who the tutor can be as long as it’s not a pro agent.

On that subject…I would like to see the following:

Zanna – Put him in as many “street” pick up games in all the big city’s that Dixon can find so he can learn some “street moves” /step back jumper/
double pump/ baby hook/and most importantly …a credible pump fake.

Robinson – who I predict will be our best PG ever, nothing but weightlifting and shooting drills

JJ Mooore – weightlifting and a self confidence course.

Patterson – Join Zanna playing in streetball games to pick up some moves, learn to create off the dribble, make a no look pass and get some confidence.

Comment by Dan 72 03.26.13 @ 8:53 am

Dokish certainly supports the contention that many of have that the talent level has gone the last several years, which coincides with the current cast of assistants.

One new piece of information is that Jamie intentionally avoids recruiting high profile prospects. While it is obvious that most of them have no intention of coming here and many are a handful, it seems crazy to give up completely.

If you don’t get a high performer every couple of years, you have little chance of ever making a final four.

We know that it was Jamie that brought in Adams, I don’t know who brought in Robinson, but well done.

At this point Newkirk and Young are being highly touted, so maybe recruiting is turning the corner.

You never know when you are going to get that “game changer”. It looked pretty glum when Gray and Kendell graduated but Blair turned out to be more special than anyone anticipated.

In the past we had that one special player Cummings, Vaughn without a supporting cast. We now have a great supporting cast and need that star scorer. Jamie needs to sell that to that one more special guy.

Comment by gc 03.26.13 @ 9:01 am

wbb – the NCAA tournament is ALL about guard play. Pitt has been able to excel in the regular season with mediocre/decent guards by playing tough d, rebounding and hiding the guards on offense with a ton of sets. That doesn’t work come tourney time when every team is good and every team turns up the defensive intensity.

Dixon has been able to land guards who mostly projected to be role players, Wright, Woodall and Gibbs, because he thought these guys could run his sets and because he missed on the studs He couldn’t close the deal with Pitt guys like Durand Scott, Omar Calhoun, Myles Davis and even Domenic Cheek. Pitt was second choice for most of those guys. Coming in 2nd is the worst thing you can do. You have to hold a spot open, you can’t go full bore on someone else, and when you lose out, you end up with Wright, Woodall and Gibbs. Dixon needs a recruiter who can land those guys.

Epps was a huge miss. He was supposed to be the next, best, in the line of Knight, Krauser, and Fields.

Woodall was projected to be a good role player who could backup both guard spots. To his credit, he developed to close to his full potential, way more than I thought was possible when I first saw him. But still not good enough to lead a team to the final four.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 03.26.13 @ 10:21 am

Just wondering.

We’ve all heard Jamie and Smug Smile Steve are tight.

Is it possible, that working with Steve constantly, and hearing about making money, watching the budget etc. etc., that Jamie has it in his mind, “gotta watch the recruiting budget”.

i.e. Lets not go for that kid in S. Carolina, we’ll never get him, and 5 trips down there will just be a waste of money in the budget.

Let’s not go to Illinois 10 times for that kid, we have no chance, that’ll just cut into our recruiting budget.

Hence, the focus only on kids he thinks he can get.

I hope that’s not an issue. For a big time basketball program, if a coach wants to recruit a kid, he shouldn’t have to even think about those issues.

Perhaps someone here knows better, maybe it’s a reach, but I got taught about osmosis many years ago.

I hope Jamie doesn’t have worries like that in the back of his head. He should be able to make a list and go after them, even if travel and time (i.e. money) may end up being wasted if he doesn’t get the kid.

And, maybe this is not the case. That would be good.

Comment by Dan 03.26.13 @ 10:54 am

Dokish also never makes the obvious connection that sometimes the system holds you back from recruiting big-time players. Of course you’re never going to get a top 25 SG if he’s watched your games and understands that if he played for you he’d spend his time passing the ball around the perimeter on offense and struggling to win tournament games on rebounding and defense.

I mean, if I were a kid with a sweet stroke coming out of HS, would I think about Pitt? I might know that Ashton Gibbs exceeded expectations, but my dad would have to tell me stories about Jason Matthews and Rod Brookin if I asked him if any others shooters ever played at Pitt.

Comment by hugh green 03.26.13 @ 12:25 pm

The article was a nice read, however, one thing that Dokish is missing: Injuries.

Gibbs and Robinson were both hurt their senior year. Robinson couldn’t jump anymore and Gibbs had a bad ankle injury. As much as them being undersized at their positions hurt them, being injured the entire year also impacted their ability.

I do agree that having a lack of height does hurt in the long run and also some recruiting misses have failed Pitt at times. However, if you read some of the information from Scout or rivals about some of the misses, you’ll see that players like Epps where not predicted be horrible. Also, another hole in the article, a big in the NCAA can be insignificant. Look at NCAA tourney winners, they have excellent guard play. Pitt needs speed at the 2 and 1 position more than getting a dominating big. The problem is that Pitt hasn’t had a quick guard outside of Fields in a long time.

Comment by Native Washingtonian 03.26.13 @ 12:42 pm

Gee, another BCS school fires a coach for losing early in the NCAAs. At Pitt, we give the guy an extension. What more do we need to know?

Comment by TonyinHouston 03.26.13 @ 1:12 pm

Going after the top 25 has mixed results.Often those recruits can screw things up as much as fix things.Look at Howlands aggrevation the last few years.Calhoun let his top recruiters have at it and it got him a national title but it also got the program in trouble.Look at what is going on in Syracuse and we just had a better year than Calipari.If Arizona had played Witchita St. they would be just as done as us with all the highly touted talent.Dokish makes some solid sense but how much risk goes along with the hotshot type recruits.The Pitt hiarchy is perfectly happy with pretty consistant top 20 play and also wants a clean neat program.Dixon as constituted delivers both and perhaps we are delusional to think there is any likelyhood of greater success.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.26.13 @ 1:28 pm

I saw where some were calling on Pitt to hire Clyde Vaughn.Clyde was a highly respected recruiter and coach under Jim Calhoun but resigned after a few legal problems cropping up,seems he was caught soliciting hookers on more than one occasion.I don’t think that would fly here and although he was one of the best shooters I ever saw our admonistration would never go for it.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.26.13 @ 1:47 pm

hugh green,I have to admit you are all over Dixon consistantly about his lack of talent,but before you go giving yourself a big pat on the back for being so perceptive you might want to at least acknowledge the fact that with less talent Dixon still does amzing things.Any intuition you have shown is certainly overshadowed by your blindness towards Jamie’s great coaching accomplishments.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.26.13 @ 1:58 pm

Boubecar, who is disputing he notion that you need good guard play in the NCAAs? In fact, Dokish’s article which I supported, made the issue that Jamie hadn’t recruted a real good PG between Fields and Robinson.

PantherP, I agree with you …. anyone that follows Dokish knows that he touts his horn everytime a recruit that he spoke well about turned about to be good, but never takes responsibility for any errors in judgment that he has made.

I’ve long made the point that he is too subjective on many of his articles, especially in FB, and thinks Pitt FB is much bigger than it really is. Nonetheless, for a Pitt fan, he is a must-read and this particular article is one of the best I have read in recent memory.

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 2:00 pm

Dan 03 – I don’t know a lot about a lot of things, but one thing I do know is sales. Dixon is no different than any salesman going for (and I hate this expression!!) “low hanging fruit”. When sales folks do that, it is clear that they do not have a long term plan or strategy. I am not saying that about Jamie, just that it is one possibility.

As far as players playing out of position, any coach will tell you that each team is planned for but until they play together in a game, you never know what the ‘chemistry” will be. While I may not think Jamie ever played his best 5 on the floor together, I am sure he thought he played his
players in the best positions and combinations to help the team win.

Comment by Dan 72 03.26.13 @ 2:47 pm

Love and respect Dixon, think he’s got an inferiority issue that time, age & wisdom can help him grow out of.

Comment by Old School Panther 03.26.13 @ 4:11 pm

I think we had better get used to the idea that if we are going to beat the Dukes and North Carolinas we will likely have to do it with less talent.I remember Calhoun used to point out that he had better talent and it used to piss me off.I wouldn’t look for much to change at Pitt particularly now that Syracuse looks to have dug themselves an NCAA hole.The bright side of all this is these 1 and done factories seem to get in trouble a lot and don’t always have good teams either.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.26.13 @ 4:49 pm

@dan 72
Thanks for the inside perspective on sales.
If I get your drift, you are suggesting that Jamie prefers to go for the sure thing instead of reaching for the stars.
When you reach for the stars, you come up short sometimes.
If true, that means we will never become a premiere program: steady, successful? Yes. In the group with UNC, Duke? Sadly, no.

Comment by SFPitt 03.27.13 @ 7:09 am

Like I said before, no one has addressed the issue of players that were highly recruited and players who got hurt. Epps was thought to be a future star that didn’t pan out. That happens. Gibbs and Robinson were hurt their senior year. Even if you get top 25 or top 50 players you still can be a Kentucky and lose to Robert Morris in the NIT the season after you win a NC. Just because you have “NBA” caliber players does not mean that you’ll suddenly win a NC. Chemistry is more important that anything else in a team game like basketball.

Comment by Native Washingtonian 03.27.13 @ 5:10 pm

[…] I wrote back in March, late in the game recruiting, is a bit of a strange things. Kids like Severe who are borderline […]

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