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Pitt basketball notebook: Dixon anticipates many more trips to 'MSG'

| Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 8:14 p.m.
Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon yells to his team as in the first half of the Panthers' game against Oakland Nov. 17, 2012, at Petersen Events Center. AP

Few college basketball programs have a home away from home like Pitt does with Madison Square Garden.

Leaving the Big East for the ACC means Pitt will see less of the world's most famous arena, but coach Jamie Dixon insists the Panthers will remain frequent visitors.

Pitt plays No. 4 Michigan at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.

“Things happen, things change,” Dixon said. “We always want to play there every year. It's good for us. We don't have as many guys from New York. But we have enough.”

Many of the notable Pitt players during the past decade – Carl Krauser, Levance Fields and Chris Taft, to name a few – have come from New York City. Dixon wants to maintain his ability to recruit in New York, even though it will play many of its future high profile games south of the Mason Dixon Line.

“We wouldn't be at the Garden if they didn't like having us there,” Dixon said. “We bring in people there. It's a good thing for us, and something we want to continue for obvious reasons.”

Pitt is 28-14 at Madison Square Garden under Dixon.

Going south

Dixon is pleased with his two newest recruits, point guard Josh Newkirk and forward McKeesport native Michael Young.

Newkirk, a highly touted player from Raleigh, wasn't prominently on Pitt's radar for a simple reason.

“He was a guy we knew about,” Dixon said. “We just thought Duke and North Carolina were going to be there at the end of the day. And to be honest, they didn't offer.”

Duke and North Carolina had already received commitments from other point guards, leaving the door open for Pitt.

Dixon was pleased to land a strong recruit from the heart of ACC Country.

“We have to go in other people's backyards and find the right guy,” Dixon said. “I think we got a good one. Not too many schools have made a living in recent years of going into warm weathered placing and bringing them to the north.”

In the rearview mirror

Dixon remains pleased with his team's dramatic comeback victory against Oakland on Saturday. While he appreciated the character Pitt showed in roaring back from 18 points down, he remains disturbed by his team's performance in the first half against Oakland. He hopes it was merely an aberration.

“We've moved on,” Dixon said. “How do you play so poorly in a half? That's really the question. But we did it.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com.

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