For an actor, Pitt men’s basketball head coach Jamie Dixon is a really good basketball coach. Dixon grew up in North Hollywood, where he starred in several commercials (for companies such as Rice Krispies, KFC, Mattel, Volvo and Bud Light) and is still a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild. While Dixon never found his breakout role on camera, he has gone on to do big things off camera. But that does explain the hair.
He’s actually a really good basketball coach regardless of the classification who often goes overlooked. Pitt is the only head coaching position that Jamie Dixon has held since he coached at a secondary school in New Zealand 20 years ago. He’s done ok.
Under Dixon, Pitt is 163-45, with NCAA Tournament appearances in all seven of his head coaching seasons. Eschewing his Hollywood background, Dixon’s Panthers are typically known for their toughness and blue-collar mentality.
Jamie Dixon joined Vinnie and Cook on 93.7 the Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about the Big East conference and tournament, the fans, playing in Milwaukee, and first-round opponent Oakland.
On the Big East tournament:
“Ultimately, you are playing for your seed in the NCAAs and, as I have come to learn in the last few years, when you are as high as we are going into a tournament, it’s really hard to change your seed too much… There’s too many good teams. We would have more teams in the NCAA Tournament. Seton Hall is an NCAA tournament team. Cincinnati is an NCAA tournament team. They are as good as teams that are in this tournament. Numbers are why you can’t have more than what we have – 8. You just can’t. We are beating each other up. There just not enough wins to go around in this conference.”
On the fans’ chance to see the team improve:
“I think our fans have really taken to this team. Our crowds have been unbelievable. Our following has been unbelievable. We lost three guys that people related to and loved watching year after year – and a fourth in Tyrell Biggs. They have just really gotten excited about seeing these guys improve and see these grow individually and as a team. That has really been fun for me.”
On day after Selection Sunday:
“Usually that day after you find out where you are, you do a lot of radio and TV. Yet, you make sure at the same time you watch a lot of film and get ready. We do have a Friday game, while we are used to playing on Thursday, so it’s good to have that extra day.”
On playing in Milwaukee:
“I kind of like that. I was hoping it would be Milwaukee. I didn’t think we’d be in Buffalo. To be honest, Milwaukee is the next closest place. Milwaukee works well for us. We have played there and we know we are going to practice at Marquette. So it makes some things easier, but we still got to play well… It’s about as close as we could get, so hopefully we can get some people up there as well.”
And on first round opponent Oakland:
“Athletic. Got some experience. Will shoot the ball quick. Like to run. A lot of penetration is what they are looking to do. They have some guys who go to the glass who like to rebound with their athletic front line. Man-to-man is what we expect.”