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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.

 





Dixon is very much Pittsburgh now. I’ve lived in Texas for nearly 13 years and I consider myself more a Texan than any other state. Yes – I still have family and friends back East and will always have an affiliation and affinity to Pittsburgh, but this hometown thing is way overrated. However, stability for one’s family cannot be overrated.

Comment by TX Panther 03.25.13 @ 3:14 pm

I think Dixon will be able to recruit a steady stream of big men from here on out if he keeps recruiting the type of shooters he currently has. He can tell all the big’s ” nobody in the country can guarantee you more opportunity’s to rebound more missed shots than you can at Pitt”.

Comment by Wayne 03.25.13 @ 3:22 pm

Good Point Texas Panther. Nice article Chas. I think the guy is awesome as a man and leader of young men. Just have to get the March situation handled and have a winning record in ACC next year which won’t be super easy. Texas Panther – Days like this 50’s and 60’s weather in Texas make me happy I’m not in the Burgh with snow in practically April. You want to try to go to the games in Arlington? I’d love to see Florida GC in person beat the Gators!

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.25.13 @ 3:26 pm

Maybe Howland can come be an assistant for Dixon!

Comment by PantherP 03.25.13 @ 3:38 pm

I think Howland would be a good fit at Minnesota.As much as I dislike Howland he is going to land a quality job somewhere.Some might not like his style but he is still way more successful than many.I Knew when he took the UCLA job this day would come and hoped it would come sooner but now that it is here it isn’t as enjoyable as I imagined.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 3:50 pm

Wouldn’t it be interesting if USC hired
Howland?

Comment by JR 03.25.13 @ 4:14 pm

Sports Illustrated has a great article on why Howland was fired. Seems that he could no longer recruit SoCal after he lied to a recruit and his family and pulled a scolly.

link to sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Comment by Chuck Morris 03.25.13 @ 4:23 pm

I think the assistant issue is huge. You can tell you have the wrong people when no one else is after them. I also question their recruiting and evaluation abilities. Every team we play has a go to shooter/slasher, we have not had one in ages. There are plenty out there, it is up to the suits on the staff to dig them up.
Look at next years back court vets, how many points a game do you see from that bunch, only Zigler has a chance of scoring and he seemed over matched this year. Robinson is adequate at best and wright hustles and plays defense. There is not one great shooter on the team.

Comment by Jimbo 03.25.13 @ 4:28 pm

Doke has a very good blog posted today. Comes down to recruiting talent and I would generally agree.

Jamie needs some ace recruiters then.

I believe Doke went on to say that Jamie’s system isn’t the reason why elites don’t chose Pitt, but I would think the system has something to do with it. Any ‘system’ that helps showcase talent and is geared to the NBA has got to get elites to at least consider the program.

It’s like in football with pro set QB’s vs option. You go with the pro set system if you want to be an NFL signal caller.

I also think playing people at their natural positions can also help.

What also can’t be understated is how important character is in coaching. Jamie is a very fine representative of the university and the city.

I just want a freakin Final 4 before I go. Preferably in New Orleans. I want to go out with a bang.

Comment by TX Panther 03.25.13 @ 5:06 pm

Jimbo,I thought Durand Johnson had a great shooting year for a freshman.He has a high release point on his jumper and if he puts on a little weight he might be a pretty effective rebounder.I like him as at the 2 though and think he might have some slashing skills too.With his length I think he could help.He is tall enough that he ought to be able to lob the ball to Adams,which is what I think next years offense ought to be doing regularly anyway.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 5:08 pm

Chuck Morris –I give little credibility to things I read in SI. They exaggerate and distort to sell advertising–and that goes back 40 years or more, IMHO.

Comment by Pitt1972 03.25.13 @ 5:33 pm

The Howand story linked above was interesting. What disturbed me the most was that the “AAU coaches didn’t like Howland’s conservative style” …. no, not the high school coaches, the freakin AAU coaches.

Hate to say it but maybe the key to improve recruiting is to cozy up to this AAU trash

Comment by wbb 03.25.13 @ 5:44 pm

Howland may have made a mistake or two, but the power of AAU coaches is far too pervasive.
I hope he goes to Northwestern.

Comment by SFPitt 03.25.13 @ 6:11 pm

on the panther prey blog Chris Dokish has an interesting article that both criticizes and praises Dixon.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 6:16 pm

Spirit, I forgot Johnson, thinking of him as a 3. Compared to the others he is a decent shooter, but not someone who scares opponents. His ball handling leaves much to be desired and lacks a bit of defense, wish he had played more to see if he has enough fire power to help, Patterson was solid, but never going to be major scorer and He got almost all the minutes.
Johnson and JJ both needed more pt, especially when scoring was a problem.
Watching Miami last night showed real coaching, team struggled and coach went one big four smalls for last 10+ minutes. Would love to see JD do something like that when we have issues.

Comment by Jimbo 03.25.13 @ 6:24 pm

jimbo, THis article by Dokish has merit,I’m sorry I don’t have the computer savvy to post it so you could flip to it but here is the crux “it is no secret that Dixon can flat out coach.Any body who doesn’t get that just isn’t paying attention.In 10 years at Pitt he has beaten a lot of more talented teams than what he is playing with,but it is also no secret that he doesn’t have as much due to his own poor recruiting and player evaluation.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 6:42 pm

I think Dokish makes a lot of sense.I don’t think Dixon is landing enough players that are good enough to play at this level.He is particularly critical of the last 5 years of guard recruits,and his argument is well founded.Adams and Johnson are said to be our future hope.It makes sense to me,I see this team do some amazing things sometimes and then when I am counting on them to step up they don’t.Maybe it is because they have already gone way past what they are actually able to do.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 6:52 pm

I said it in Jan and here it is again, recruiting suffered when Antigue left.

Comment by alcofan 03.25.13 @ 7:03 pm

wbb, The thing about the AAU coaches, they all think their protege’ deserves to be “highlighted”.
Kehm Birch, even thought he was starting, wasn’t in the right system to properly showcase his skills. So he needed to go to UNLV, where he did no better. The funny part is that they don’t get it. When you’re a freshman, you have to earn your playing time.

Comment by Justinian 03.25.13 @ 7:17 pm

things went a little south with recruting
when barry rohrssen left wish he would come back he had that pipe line to NY players.

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 7:21 pm

jon severe now has offer from BC to go with the outhers.

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 7:28 pm

The last couple of years we haven’t had the players ‘waiting in the wings’ that have stepped up like in years’ past.

Next year will be no exception, as you’re going to have a sophomore running PG and he stumbled some down the stretch. Not exactly a kid who can get to the rim on anything near a consistent basis. Made a couple cluth 3’s but he’s not exactly a good shooter, as of now. And unless Zeigler somehow miraculously transforms into Madame 2 guard, Dixon is going to rely on another incoming freshman in Newkirk.

That 3 some could really struggle to score in Dixon’s snail paced halfcourt offense.

Patterson & Moore are Misters Inconsistent 1 & 2.
And they’re going to be the Senior Leadership ???
Along with another enigma, one Talib Zanna.

Mike Young better be the real deal, as right now we have no one with a true low post game.

And Kiwi Steve is another big “if” at the 5.

Throw in another factor, we have no backup center.

They better recruit Severe or it could be a severely painful season !

Comment by EMel 03.25.13 @ 7:29 pm

There is no question about it. You need to have good recruiters on your staff. Losing Barry Rhorson hurt. When you have better players, you look a lot smarter. Your players have to be talented enough to do the things that want to do or excute the plays that you want to run.

Comment by Justinian 03.25.13 @ 7:30 pm

Maybe we should forgive Clyde Vaughans former indiscreations and hire him. He picked up alot of guys for UConn.

Comment by alcofan 03.25.13 @ 7:37 pm

He not only said he wasn’t doing the job recruiting, he said it was very obvious that Dixon can flat out coach.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 7:37 pm

He said not only was he screwing up recruiting but also player evaluation.He also said what he has accomplished is amazing considering what he won with.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 7:40 pm

alcofan,clyde sadly got real dirty and wouldn’t be welcome at Pitt as an employee,but boy could he shoot.

Comment by spiritofsection22 03.25.13 @ 7:42 pm

Chris Dokish article today…Chas /Reed I hope I am not overstepping the blog by publishing this.

I think this was the finest article I have read on the state of Pitt Basketball

Why Pitt has struggled and how to fix it
Another season, another disappointing early exit for Pitt fans. Why does it keep happening? Is it style? Talent? Both? Let’s first look at where the program is under Jamie Dixon, and then how they can get back on track, and maybe even better.

Last season was the first truly mediocre season of Dixon’s tenure, and even a CBI championship couldn’t save a moribund season. The program did rally some this season. I predicted in the preseason that the Panthers would be 26-7 and they ended up 24-9, yet somehow it still seemed to many that the Panthers didn’t live up to expectations.

Dixon did a great job to get the Panthers to 24-9 with two freshman starters, neither of whom are stars yet. And with a top scorer averaging only 11.5 ppg. Included in those 24 wins was a 28 point win at Georgetown, a 15 point win at Villanova, a 10 point win against Syracuse, a 10 point win at Cincinnati, another 9 point win against Villanova, an even a 3 point loss at possible eventual national champion Louisville. That’s some impressive coaching for a team with such obvious weaknesses. But now let’s look at why in the last two seasons the team had such weaknesses.

The most obvious problem is that Dixon has missed in recruiting too often over the past few years. Tray Woodall, Lamar Patterson, Talib Zanna, and J.J. Moore are solid talents, but Woodall has graduated without reaching stardom and the latter three are down to their last season to reach that level. While it’s possible that could happen for any of them, there hasn’t been any signs that will happen.

Beyond that, Trey Zeigler was a transfer that even Duke wanted, but after watching him during this season one has to wonder why. He’s also down to his last season and he’s another one that probably isn’t going to reach stardom in his senior season next year. The same goes for Cameron Wright who will be a redshirt junior. The jury is still out on redshirt Chris Jones and rising redshirt sophomore Durand Johnson, though the latter has shown signs of being an offensive sniper.

The only probable top end talent in the entire program is freshmen Steven Adams and James Robinson. Adams is far ahead of most 7’0″ freshman and Robinson mostly played well as a rare starting freshman point guard in the Big East. They are the future of the program and the main reason why there’s hope.

While it’s obviously great that Dixon landed two excellent prospects, their presence also sheds light on the recent misses. Dante Taylor and Khem Birch were McDonald’s All-Americans. Neither lived up to what was expected of them. Taylor peaked as a solid reserve, and Birch was a total mismatch for the program then transferred out midway through his freshman season.

Then there are the other transfers. Dwight Miller, J.J. Richardson, Isaiah Epps, Malcolm Gilbert, and John Johnson also moved on in the past few years. The most glaring observation one could take from that list is that none of them were projected to be big time players even if they stayed. At best, Gilbert could eventually fit into the rotation, and Johnson probably would have been a career reserve.

Like Woodall, Epps was rated highly as a sophomore, but saw his stock drop like a rock before signing. Many other schools saw warning signs that pointed to both being not as good as was first hoped, and stopped recruiting them. Pitt, on the other hand, stuck with them, hoping that they would reclaim their past glory. They did not. Woodall became a good player, but nothing more, and Epps showed nothing.

Miller and Richardson were brought in late to max out the roster and to be designated rebounders. Both were obviously failed experiments.

But the most frustrating transfer may have been Gilbert. Granted, he was probably never going to be a big star, but when he transferred Dixon stated that even before signing Gilbert, that he was always going to transfer so that he can play with his brother. What? What was the point of using a scholarship on him, and spending time in practice teaching him to play basketball, if you knew he was going to leave anyway? Couldn’t that scholarship have gone to, at the very least, a 7’0″ project that was going to stay? Or how about a 6’5″ shooting guard who is a great athlete but is raw? Or a great three point shooter who maybe is not that great of an athlete? There are many more projects that make more sense.

That dovetails into one of Dixon’s biggest problems, and that’s that he too often takes players with limited upsides. Woodall was a 5’11” shooting guard who wasn’t a three point shooter when he was signed. Exactly where did Dixon think he was going to go with him? Woodall maxed out what he could do at Pitt, and he was far from a bad player, but when he’s the best player on your team, you have to think it’s a miracle Pitt won as much as they have. Woodall is a good player to have on your team. But Robinson is a strongly built 6’3″ point guard with natural point guard skills. He can easily improve his shooting and get in shape enough to be a very good college player. Especially since he’s considered a top 50 prospect when he came out. That’s very different than a 5’11” shooting guard that you have to teach to play point guard and who isn’t rated in the top 100. And Woodall was taken very early in the recruiting cycle. There was no reason to jump on him so soon.

But taking Woodall alone wasn’t a problem. He turned out to be a good player and helped the team. But he was forced to start because Dixon then followed up with more suspect guards. In the next year, Dixon brought in no more point guards. The following year he added Isaiah Epps. So that’s the point guards that Dixon was counting on? Really? The next year the program added John Johnson, yet another small shooting guard that Pitt tried to turn into a Big East point guard.

Maybe Pitt can’t land a McDonald’s All-American point guard, but come one, there’s no reason why the Panthers couldn’t land at least one top 100 point guard between Levance Fields in 2005 and Robinson in 2012. That’s simply bad recruiting and bad evaluation.

The same situation exists at shooting guard. Wright is a lengthy athlete, but he was not considered a good outside shooter when he signed. To his credit he has developed into a serviceable player. And even though Ohio State, who he originally committed to, gave up on him because his stock dropped, the Panthers continued to pursue him. See a trend developing?

But, like Woodall, Wright is good to have in the program. But only in a group of more talented players. Ashton Gibbs was one that did come through, and even though all he could do was shoot, at least he had one thing that he could do extremely well. He became a total malcontent in his senior year, and that malaise seems to have lingered into this season’s team, but overall the staff did good with his recruitment. But, again, there wasn’t enough talent in the rest of the guards to utilize him better. Gibbs was even forced to play way out of position at point guard before Brad Wanamaker was forced to cover for him. And as a two guard he was limited athletically to be an all around force. That’s okay if there are others to do what he could not, but when you are forced to have your small forward run the offense, you are lacking in quality guards. In a nutshell, Gibbs was a shooting guard playing point guard, but not really, and Wanamaker was built like a shooting guard, playing small forward, but with point guard possibilities. That sums up Dixon at Pitt perfectly. Nobody perfect for any one spot but still winning a lot of games.

After Gibbs, Dixon added no new true shooting guards in 2009, Wright in 2010, none in 2011, and Chris Jones in 2012. Is it any wonder why Pitt can’t score?

At the forward spot, there were some solid players like Nasir Robinson, Wanamaker, and Patterson but none were the elite athlete and scoring combination that the great programs need. Like Jaron Brown before them, Dixon instead went with power forwards in small forward bodies. You can still win a lot of games like that but the teams who go far in the NCAA tournament have 6’6′ athletes who are scoring 15 ppg. It’s the equivalent of having a first baseman who hits 10 home runs. He could be a good player, but if you have a first baseman with 10 home runs and your opponent has a first baseman with 30 home runs, then eventually you’re going to lose. Ideally, your point guard distributes, your center and power forward defend and rebound, and your shooting guard and small forward scores. And when you are playing power forwards at small forward and point guards at shooting guard, you aren’t going to score at those positions.

Hopefully, Dixon has realized lately that he needs something different at the position and has added 6’6″ athletic shooters in Moore and Durand Johnson, and 6’5″ shooting guard Chris Jones. Moore shows flashes but it looks very much like Dixon doesn’t know how to handle him. He is a great athlete but he rarely gets to show it. Johnson can shoot, and little else, but he’s only a redshirt freshman. The hope is that he can defend enough that Dixon will let him play more.

It’s no secret that Dixon can flat out coach with what he has. Anybody who doesn’t get that just isn’t paying attention. In his ten years at Pitt he has beaten a lot of much more talented teams than what he was playing with. But it’s also no secret that he doesn’t have as much due to his own poor recruiting and player evaluation.

I know people don’t like the system, but the system is not the biggest problem. Dixon’s system is about rebounding, defense, and offensive efficiency. Nobody can argue that that is a helluva system for any coach. The problem is talent.

When Dixon had DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Levance Fields, he came very close to getting to the Final Four. But there was very little else behind those three, though some eventually went on to being good players in future years. Other Dixon teams didn’t have that kind of top end talent, but it shows just how excellent of a coach he is when he takes a team of Gibbs, Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, and Gary McGhee to a No.1 seed. The Blair, Young, and Fields team was also a No.1 seed and went further. Unless you are a rare Cinderella team, only highly talented teams get to the Final Four, and it’s no wonder why the Pitt team with the most high end talent went the furthest in the tournament.

That’s why Adams sticking around is so important. As a junior he could be a force at the Blair level, while Robinson could be at the Fields level. That leaves the Young spot, a wing who can score in bunches. It’s the same bugaboo that has haunted Dixon for most of the decade. But as I explained previously he has nobody to blame but himself.

In the past few days, fans and media alike have been criticizing Dixon for his style of play, and how his players need to look more to offense and have more fun. There’s definitely something to that but one would have to be naive to think that Dixon is suddenly going to channel Andy Enfield. The truth is, his team didn’t have trouble scoring when he had Young on the wing, Blair carving out space in the paint, and Fields throwing perfect passes to both. No, the trouble is definitely recruiting. It’s high level talent that gets you to Final Fours. It’s coaching that gets you a lot of wins.

Dixon lets it be known what he’s looking for and the assistants go out to look for those players. They then return to Dixon when they find somebody that fits the bill. So these mismatched small forwards and guards lay at the feet of Dixon. Worse yet, I don’t think Dixon believes he can get some of the top recruits in the nation. The truth is, he would lose out on many, but it doesn’t seem like he even tries very hard at them. I once asked a member of the Pitt staff about recruiting and he replied that one of the factors in deciding who Dixon will target is “who he thinks he can get”. To me, that is very telling. Shouldn’t a nationally known, and highly successful program assume, at least initially, that they can get anybody? Why so pessimistic? Ralph Willard pulled top 25 guard Vonteego Cummings out of Georgia while Dixon is settling for former top 100 players who has seen their stock plummet. Find a top 50 wing who can score and go hard after him. Hell, he could start from day one in the ACC next to a 7’0″ lottery pick, and in front of some of the best fans in the country. You only need one of them to buy into that. But you have to go hard at the kid. Not all great recruiters recruit to just Kentucky and North Carolina. Great recruiters at lesser programs pull in the occasional gem, too. There’s no reason why Pitt can’t be one of them. Dixon is not a good closer at all and it’s his biggest weakness.

I was once talking to a well known, respected national basketball writer a few years back about whether or not Pitt will go after Herb Pope. He told me “with kids like that you have to get your hands dirty sometimes and Jamie doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. It’s often a circus with the top kids and Jamie doesn’t want to go there”. What I have to say to that is, Jamie better learn to go there. I’m not saying to do anything against the rules, I’m saying make strong connections and don’t take no for an answer. Yeah, Pope was a train wreck, and so was Birch, who had all kinds of bad people trying to influence him. But you have to try with that kind of talent because those are the ones more often than not who will get you to the Elite 8 and beyond. Charles Smith, Brian Shorter, and Adams were all top 10 prospects. Jerome Lane, Chris Taft, and Blair were top 25. Young was top 50. I think you see the point. If you want great college players, you need to recruit great prospects. Seems obvious, but Dixon doesn’t always do that. Especially at guard where Robinson is the only guard in his entire tenure that is even on the cusp of being a top 50 prospect.

To sum it up, Dixon is a phenomenal coach. What he’s been able to accomplish with the talent he has on hand is sometimes amazing. On the other hand, he’s his own worst enemy. I feel that he’s so close with the administration at Pitt that nobody will tell him that he needs to make some changes. And after a ten year extension, I don’t see them telling him how to run his program at this point.

Ideally, the administration should let Dixon know that if he needs an ace recruiter, they will give him the money to do it. I don’t think Bill Barton has even signed anybody since he’s been at Pitt, and previously he was the assistant at Marshall. That’s not good enough.

And then Dixon himself has to change. He’s no longer the boy wonder. He’s 47-years old now, and this is his last chance for greatness at Pitt. Nationally, and locally, he’s now known as the guy who got a long extension for flopping in the tournament every year. And with his constant pay raises, and the fact that it’s now pretty much known that nobody else will be coming for him, the pressure is on like never before. It’s time to change his recruiting philosophy. Time to recruit hard against the best programs out there, and start bringing in some wing talent. He has the center and the point guard to help make people forget about his failures. But only if he has learned from those failures. The time is now for Dixon to be a complete coach because the university paid a lot of money for him to be one.

Comment by Dan 72 03.25.13 @ 7:48 pm

It would be great to give Clyde Vaughn a second chance. From what I remember, what he did shouldn’t be a career ender. He should also be able to teach something about shooting and scoring.

Comment by gc 03.25.13 @ 7:49 pm

dokish has sold me i think he is right. i in the past thought it was outher things that were wrong but i think he nailed it.

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 7:52 pm

On Dokish article – a well reasoned and meticulously thought out and researched explanaiton of the state of Pitt Basketball.

Sometimes though, when a situation drags out as long as Pitt’s has (not playing well in the NCAA’s and BET) a coach may subconciously not want to recruit top players because if he does, and then he fails, there is no net under him. When he wins, he’s a hero/great coach to have won with mediocre talent!

Not saying that Jamie is one of those but the situation has gone on for far to long for it to be a mere accident. I see this all the time evaluating sales reps and managers.

I have just been as angry and upset as any other Pitt Alum and Fan over this years WSU loss and the reaction of Pitt to give a 10 year extension. If I am correct on my assumption and Jamie is one of those kinds of non-risk takers, Pitt has just massively rewarded him for his approach and said to him…keep doing the same.

Comment by Dan 72 03.25.13 @ 7:55 pm

Great article by Dokish, I hope the right people take it to heart.

Comment by gc 03.25.13 @ 8:03 pm

Dan and EMel there is a man named pete newell
who runs a big mans camp he teachs a lot of pros how to play center.
could the school send adams there or would
it brake a rule of some kind.
all so could a ex pro SG be be brought in in the off season to work with are SG or would that brake a rule.

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 8:17 pm

TX Panther – I feel the same way about DC. I’ve lived here for 15 years now (damn time flies). It’s home now. It’s nice to see some loyalty … even if a lot of it is towards Pederson. Time for Pitt to step up and give him $$ for assistants and the ability to schedule better OOC games.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.25.13 @ 8:18 pm

Although I am not a fan of using junior college players but since Adams may only be around 1 or maybe 2 years at most it may be good to take a look at some juco scorers.

Wichita State did.

Comment by Frank MD 03.25.13 @ 8:20 pm

barry rohrssen known as slice wikipedia says he is well known as a top recruiter.
bring him back dixon you need him

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 8:50 pm

lol Dokish must read this blog.

I just mentioned Vonteego Cummings in a post last night and wallah it’s in his column today.

And I’ve mentioned continually thruout the season that Dixon has lots of players playing out of position, which is an annual thing.

Interesting bit in his piece, Dixon doesn’t believe he can recruit the Top 25-50 players.
Therefore he hardly even tries to recruit.

If you don’t believe it, it’s never gonna happen.
Maybe we should send Jamie a copy of Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’

What Dokish’s misses is, the Top 25 type players don’t want to play in a defensive oriented halfcourt snailball offense. IMO Dixon knows this, THEREFORE he doesn’t even bother to try and recruit them.

Also Dokish fails to mention that other than Pitt’s 12 rent-a-wins, we went a very average 12-9 and a very below average 4-8 against Top 50 teams. Now after last year’s disasterous campaign I guess that is alright. But that’s it,

alright.

And as Dokish points out, if we lost because of lack of talent, well that points right back at Jamie too. And the Marcus Gilbert stmt, is almost too incredible. He still gave him a scholarship, spent all the time with him, had him on the roster and knew he’d transfer.

Pitt better open up the pursestrings and hire someone like Barry R to recruit and Tom Herrion to help Dixon coach.

Or I fear a Boston College type nosedive in the ACC. BC was very very good right before the entered the ACC, beat us in the 2001 BE Tournament Championship game and had several Sweet 16, Elite 8 type teams.

Dixon by himself and with this current staff is not good enough !

Comment by EMel 03.25.13 @ 8:57 pm

EMel yes we must bring slice back and it is
rohrssen got the spelling from wikipedia

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 9:15 pm

I think dixon can recruit top 50 players. Leave it up to the assistants to do the dirty work. You close the deal. You don’t lie, you don’t make promises. You provide an opportunity and the kid knows the coach has his back. The kid also knows he has to earn it. You then tweak your system to showcase the offensive talent and let the kids have some fun every once in a while. You also learn to keep feeding the guy that can score. Pitt does need better athletes, shooters and players that can drive the lane and create their own shots based on quickness and skill to play ACC ball. Pitt can do it. It has a very good coach, great fans and facilities and a great conference. Why Pitt isn’t elite is because Pitt doesn’t try. Now Stevie open up the pcoket books so Jamie can hire some better assistants and so Pitt can pay some better teams to play at the Pete. Same goes for football. More money for experienced assistants, ace recruiters and a larger scouting budget. Oh, and an on campus stadium when the Rooneys decide to build a billion dollar stadium in Washington county in about 15 years.

Comment by TX Panther 03.25.13 @ 9:24 pm

Yeah, Dokish hit a home run with that article. He said the other day he was going to post something like this today….

I would say that those here who love the contract extension and have been cheering Dixon on have been concentrating on the good coaching part Dokish pointed out, and those calling for his head were concentrating on his poor recruiting and player evaluation in both recruiting and player development.

He not going to change his style, but if he can clean up his problems, we could have a real winner some day in Pitt CBB.

I commented to Dokish that Dixon is very introverted and will never be a good recruiter as far as closing a deal with some of the really good players out there. But if he can hire an assistant who can, it would go a long way toward straightening out this program.

Comment by Jackagain 03.25.13 @ 9:43 pm

idea tyler lamb 6 foot 5 g is to transfer from
UCLA my be dixon should ask ben howland if the kid is good enough to play for pitt.dont know why he is leaveing but it might be worth a phone call.

all so zach peters is transfering from kansas
he is a 6 foot 9 foward and we could use the hight
if he went to kansas he must have been a high rated player what the hell phone call are cheap
and we need players. it cant hurt to check them out.

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 9:58 pm

@Frankcan, yeah, we need somebody on that…especially Zach Peters.

Comment by panther94 03.25.13 @ 10:01 pm

@Dan72, next time, just provide the link, ok?

Comment by panther94 03.25.13 @ 10:18 pm

panther 94 just found out lamb has a new school
but i all so found out there were 400 transfers this year and some very good players.

but you can see the problem pitt is not trying to get any of them they are all at there new schools

which is kind of what dockish ie saying we seam to be slow not on the ball not trying hard enough to go after players be they recruits or transfers no get up and go no push push .

Comment by FRANKCAN 03.25.13 @ 11:01 pm

I agree that Dokish’s article was the best I’ve ever read from him. It was very well thought out, and much more objective than many he has written.

I kind of wish the PG would hire him as the Pitt beat writer for FB (if he wants it) since the new guy, Werner, is now assigned (along with the WVU writer) to cover the Frozen 4. I hope Werner is still able to cover spring practice, but who knows?

I see Micco didn’t reassign his PSU writer .. God forbid!!

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 6:38 am

frankcan, Sean Miller got one of those 5th year graduate transfers (believ his name is Lyons) who is a very important part of his current Arizona team. He was allowed to play immediately … just like the Russell Wilson situation at Wisc a couple years ago.

This is what Pitt needs for this coming year since their team lacks frontcourt depth. There is no back-up center and the only backup forward is Moore, who is really not a forward. They got a good forward recruit but I don’t believe he has a chance to being a good rebounder immediately, and he likes to play the perimeter on offense.

Thus, Pitt sorely needs a JUCO or 5th year transfer who can half-way defend agsinst the 5 position, if just for 10-12 minutes a game to spell Adams.

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 6:53 am

Maybe the Pittsburgh newspapers can hire some quality bloggers like Chas, Doke and Anson. The blogosphere is where I get my news today. Not those worthless papers whose owners fill them with editors who have agendas and writers who just say what their boss wants them to say.

Comment by TX Panther 03.26.13 @ 6:57 am

Interesting how it took Dokish to vomit a bunch of words and all of a sudden everybody has an epiphany and realizes Dixon doesn’t pull in the talent. What a revelation……

Woodall should have been a nice backcourt guy off the bench, not your best guard!

I’ve been ranting about the useless guard recruiting for years. Epps, John Johnson, Wright………c’mon………just not good enough.

Comment by hugh green 03.26.13 @ 7:00 am

hugh, FYI Bob Smizik, who is not known for his basketball analysis, wrote that Pitt lacked talent on Friday, 3 days before Dokish’s article. And if you read many of the posts over the past 5 days on this site, you would have seen people continually talking about Pitt players lacking quickness and athleticism, not to mention the lack of good shooting (which has been discussed for years.)

In other words, Dokish’s article may have been an epiphany for you but it wasn’t for many others. What the article was was a very good synopsis of Dixon’s teams in recent years which detailed Dixon’s strengths along with his weaknesses, with plenty of proof to support both. And it also suggested feasible ways of moving the program forward (without the hyperbole often seen on the posts written here.)

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 7:18 am

Hugh, my own mantra is how many players play out of position out of necessity. Gibbs (1 instead of 2) … Woodall (2 instead of 1) .. Moore (4 instead of 3) .. Taylor (5 instead of 4) .. etc.

This has been an issue for Pitt teams for a while now.

Comment by wbb 03.26.13 @ 7:20 am

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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