Panthers embrace another trip to Garden
Madison Square Garden is the site of Jamie Dixon's first victory as Pitt's coach, a 71-62 win over Alabama in the 2003-04 opener. He's also won 20 other games there in 10 seasons.
Dixon doesn't claim the Garden as a home court.
“But we like to think that way,” he said.
And why not?
With the exception of Petersen Events Center, Pitt has played more games at MSG than at any structure currently in use. That makes Sunday's meeting with St. John's a bit more than just another game. It will mark Pitt's 88th game at the Garden since 1935 (44-43), the third this season and the next-to-last trip to the 45-year-old midtown Manhattan facility before the school joins the ACC.
No. 20 Pitt (20-7, 8-6) returns next month for its final appearance in the Big East Tournament.“We're excited about playing in New York,” said Dixon, who has a 21-13 record at MSG, including victories against Duke, Louisville, Memphis and Georgetown. “We'll have friends there. We'll have family there. We'll have fans.
“Obviously, St. John's, it's their home court, but it's a place we have already played in (this season). It's not normal that you play in a place you already played in earlier in the year.”
Pitt lost to Michigan and defeated Delaware in November in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Dixon said Pitt made a decision 10 years ago to try to play in New York once a season, a commitment he said will continue even after Pitt leaves the Big East.
“We love going back there. We have done pretty much every tournament that you could get in,” he said. “We always know that we are going to be going back there to play there and recruit there.”
Apart from Big East games, Pitt has played in MSG every year since 2009.
Although Pitt is leaving the Big East, Dixon doesn't want to lose his important connections on New York's fertile playgrounds. Five Pitt players — Tray Woodall, Dante Taylor, Lamar Patterson, J.J. Moore and Chris Jones — have ties to the New York/New Jersey area. Patterson, who played his senior season at St. Benedict's (N.J.) Prep, committed to Pitt in 2007 after its MSG victory against Duke.
For years, Pitt's players have enjoyed the trip for many reasons, especially the chance to go home and play on an NBA court. But there is a more frivolous reason to go back.
Players like to eat from the famous New York food trucks that serve fare such as shish kebab, gyros and eggplant right out on the streets.
“It's a tradition for us,” Moore said.
Dixon builds free time into the players' schedule so they can hit the streets for dinner, even though he prefers to eat in the hotel while watching video and plotting strategy.
“I don't like to wait in line,” he said, smiling.
After all, the game is the thing.
A victory against St. John's (16-10, 8-6), which is 8-5 against Pitt at MSG, could propel the Panthers toward a 4-0 regular-season finish and a more favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament. Pitt closes against last-place South Florida and Villanova at home and DePaul on the road.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Couple taken into custody after 8-hour standoff in Hempfield
- Police end standoff with New Kensington man
- Hays eagle egg watch continues
- Freshman arrested in Burrell High School bomb threat
- Pittsburgh angles to keep Heinz headquarters in merger
- Aldi to open store where Bottom Dollar closed in Garfield
- New Kensington-Arnold School Board superintendent hangs on as board vote falls short
- North Buffalo man charged with distributing child porn
- Donora demolishing former Fifth Street School
- Michigan man takes Heinz to court over Dip & Squeeze ketchup packet
- Harrison rape suspect awaiting trial accused of sexual contact with 6-year-old