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Dixon's tenure a boon for Pitt

| Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010

When Jamie Dixon was promoted to Pitt head basketball coach in April 2003, interim athletic director Marc Boehm called the hiring "one helluva gamble."

About eight years later, Dixon is about as sure of a thing as it gets.

With one more win, Dixon will record his 200th victory.

The No. 6 Panthers (11-1) can provide Dixon with his landmark win when they host American (6-4 before Monday's game at Mount St. Mary's) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Petersen Events Center.

"It would be good for Coach Dixon and the program," said senior Brad Wanamaker, who has been part of 94 of Dixon's wins. "But he's not big on accolades; he'll tell you that."

This will be Dixon's 255th game since taking over for Ben Howland prior to the 2003-04 season. Only 12 coaches in NCAA Division I history have reached the plateau quicker and in the past 40 years, just three coaches - Mark Few (247), Roy Williams (252) and Denny Crum (254) - have achieved No. 200 faster than Dixon's likely number.

Of those 12 quick-start coaches, all but two are in the Hall of Fame (Gonzaga's Few and Jerry Tarkanian).

Consider how long it took some of the top coaches in college basketball history to reach the landmark. Mike Krzyzewski needed 328 games to reach 200 wins. Jim Boeheim needed 266 and Rick Pitino 301. Even the late John Wooden required 276.

Dixon, a two-time National Coach of the Year, also has the best all-time winning percentage in Big East games (.696).

"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."

Dixon, 45, deflected credit to his players, who have led the Panthers to an average of 27 wins a season and an NCAA Tournament bid in each of his seven seasons. He also noted the former players who frequently return to Pitt to work out and play against the current Panthers. As Dixon met with reporters Monday at the Pete, former star guard Carl Krauser was about 20 feet away, shooting around.

"We've been very fortunate," Dixon said. "We've had a lot of good players. The bottom line is that we believe in each other. If you do that, it can take you a long way. That's really been a big part of our success."

Since his first victory, a 71-62 win over Alabama in the 2003 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden, Dixon has become known for getting the most out of his team and spurring steady improvement from his players. He said the most memorable victory was the 65-64 overtime victory over Duke at the Garden on Dec. 20, 2007.

"He's a great coach," Taylor said. "He talks to us off the court. If we need him, he's there for us."

ยป Note: Senior forward Gilbert Brown, who scored a career-high 28 points in Pitt's 97-64 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday, was named the Big East Player of the Week.

Additional Information:

Quick start

Jamie Dixon has a chance to become the fourth-fastest coach to reach 200 wins in the past four decades:
Coach, school -- GP -- W-L -- Year
Mark Few, Gonzaga -- 250 -- 200-47 -- 2007
Roy Williams, Kansas -- 252 -- 200-52 -- 1996
Denny Crum, Louisville -- 254 -- 200-54 -- 1980
Jamie Dixon, Pitt -- 254 -- 199-55 -- 2010

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