No two ways about it - Pitt lucked into a great hire with Jamie Dixon. He wasn't their first choice, but he turned out to be the right choice. Tomorrow night, he goes for his 200th career win when Pitt plays American University.
Seems like it didn't take all that long. That's because it didn't:
Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon needs a win tonight to reach the 200-career victory plateau. He currently has a 199-55 career record. Dixon will tie the NCAA Division I record for quickest to 200 wins in only eight seasons, matching the record held by Gonzaga's Mark Few and Kansas' Roy Williams. He will rank among the all-time top-15 in quickest to 200 victories in regards to total games (see charts on page 4). He will also become the fastest coach in school history to reach the 200-win plateau and only the second coach to reach that mark in school history (see chart on page 6). The only other coach in school history to win 200 games is H.C. "Doc" Carlson, who recorded a 367-247 record over 31 years from 1922-53. Dixon (199-55) became the first head coach in school history to guide Pitt to seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. With his 188 wins, Dixon tied the NCAA Division I all-time record for most victories after seven seasons as a head coach. He tied Gonzaga's Few, who held the record with 188 wins from 2000-06. In 2008-09, Dixon also set the NCAA Division I record for most wins after the first six seasons as a head coach.
Dixon knows he wasn't the first choice, but he's happy he got the opportunity nonetheless:
"I've just been very fortunate to be here," he said. "Every day I spend thinking that I got a break and I hope that it never ends."
Everyone know Skip Prosser was Pitt's first choice. After considering the job, he eventually turned it down. And with the way things have gone with Dixon, Pitt obviously made the right move in giving him a chance.
One thing I've always found interesting is Dixon got the job in part because of his players. They considered him part of their family after Ben Howland left. And since then, those players have moved on, but the culture of family has stuck. You often hear recruits mention that they felt like Pitt had such a family atmosphere.
And the neat thing is that it doesn't end after you leave the school. As the Post-Gazette mentioned a few months back, Dixon is happy to welcome back players to campus almost anytime:
"Something that has been exciting to me is watching former players come back, especially guys that I've coached the last 12 years," Dixon said. "It seems like each summer it's getting more and more. You could name almost any guy who played here and they were back this summer working out or playing with the guys. That's been one of the most gratifying things for me."
Among those who were back on campus this summer were NBA players DeJuan Blair, Sam Young and Aaron Gray as well as others who are pursuing professional careers overseas. They included Carl Krauser, Levance Fields, Chevon Troutman, Ronald Ramon, Tyrell Biggs and Keith Benjamin.
It was not uncommon for one to wander into the Petersen Events Center and witness some intense pickup games involving several professional players.