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Sunday column: ‘Sorry, man, I’m a Dixon guy’

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Sunday column barely pauses for a moment to consider Pitt beating Maryland and instead does what everyone else is doing in looking ahead to Duke.

Here’s some of the Pitt reaction from Lamar Patterson, James Robinson and Cam Wright on an elegantly produced video …

The game story is by beat man Kevin Gorman.

Random blogginess from the scene: When athletes say almost the exact same thing as each other minutes after a game, you can bet the BMW, it was just discussed in that locker room. Just something to keep in mind when looking at those player quotes about Jamie Dixon and Mike Krzyzewski in the column. … Have to love Dixon publicly expressing remorse that freshman Jamel Artis didn’t get more playing time, partly because Artis fared well — eight points, six rebounds — and partly because he was before family and friends. It’s a far cry from when Dixon shunned freshmen altogether, huh? … I’m going to say this gently in the context of an 18-2 team: Artis needs to start, and Mike Young needs to figure some things out. … I look at a player like Patterson and wonder, if the NBA can’t use a player like that, is there something wrong with Patterson or with the dunk-happy, travel-allowing NBA? Patterson can flat-out play the game the way it was meant to be played. … Mark Turgeon’s wild remarks about Pitt weren’t just said to be nice to the visitors. I overheard him say pretty much the same thing to the Maryland radio audience. … Robinson quietly put up another 13 points, a figure that would have been a big deal for him even a month ago. I asked if he’s shooting more since Durand Johnson’s loss: “I don’t think so. I’m feeling a little more confident and just taking the shots that are there.” … The Terps came out legitimately hard. But Pitt, as we’ve seen so many times this season, built its foundation by focusing on defense and rebounding. That must drive other teams nuts. There just doesn’t seem to be a rattling, much less breaking point for these Panthers. … Monday will be a blast.

Here’s our full Pitt coverage.

The photo gallery is by our Chaz Palla.

>> Driving back home today. I’ll have a Monday column on pucks and an extra Tuesday column off the Duke game. Enjoy the Pro Bowl responsibly, everyone. (Don’t laugh. It crushes all of the other three All-Star Games in TV ratings, for as much as everyone claims to hate it.)

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Ghost says:

    I might need to start following Pitt basketball (and football) more closely. Among other schools, my daughter, a HS senior, has applied to Pitt. She’s drawn to the biomedical sciences, so she could do a lot worse than to study and be in Pittsburgh. Go Panthers!

  2. Bizrow says:

    IMO Dixon is pretty much the best thing to happen to the burgh since Slick Frank

    Oh crap, SF is still here


    With Pitt BB, they play tough, I’m thinking how can I not pull for those guys and their character that shows most all nights?

    Hi Frank, keep calculating how you did good with the TV contract

    Hope someone somewhere will get SF home, take his keys

  3. DJ says:

    Foul shooting % may be the difference in the Duke game. We shoot like the first half, we’re good. Like the second half and we’ll lose.

    On Mike Young, best foul shooting stroke on the team. Just needs more confidence in taking his shot when it’s there. Rare that freshman play in Jamie’s system. I would peg his and Artis’ development over the five weeks as the difference-makers in how far Pitt goes in the NCAA tourney. That said, agree that Artis needs more playing time.

    Someone needs to tell Wright he’s not Karl Malone at the foul line. No fall-a-ways.

  4. Man, I can’t wait!!!

    DUKE at the Pete!

    Pitt is playing together as a team as well as a team can play.
    Can DUKE and K distract them, throw them off their game, make them play as individuals?

    Man, I can’t wait!!! This, my friends, is College Basketball!

  5. JohninOshkosh says:

    Really enjoyed the column and loved Patterson’s dismissive quote on Coach K in favor of his own.

    This Maryland game had all the makings of what football people like to call a trap game. What I liked seeing, though, was even in the midst of Maryland’s torrid start, Pitt played well defensively. Just only so much you can do when baskets fall and a team is off to a 9-2 run, but Pitt forced a held ball and stopped a Maryland transition when the Terrapins had numbers. Pitt was countering offensively with shot percentages in the twenties, but it was inevitable that Maryland would cool and Pitt’s shooting would progress to the mean.

    That is what good teams do. Take the initial punches. Don’t panic at either end of the court. Wait for the team leaders to get going and get help from the support players. Pitt did all of these and escaped the trap.

    Monday night can’t come soon enough for this hoops fan.

  6. JohninOshkosh says:

    How did Palla get that shot ? The point of view makes it seem as if he shooting straight at Randall and not from below the basket where I usually see the photographers sitting. It’s like he is on a platform behind the basket.

    Remarkable photograph.

  7. Stuart says:

    Ghost, my youngest is a senior at Pitt (chem), and continues to love it. Great school for the sciences. As the knight said, “he has chosen wisely”.

    Good luck to her.


  8. JohninOshkosh says:

    Oh, I see how the stadium in configured and where he was positioned. Still, right time, right place to get the image. Well done.

  9. DJ says:

    Love Coach K and what he has stood for and accomplished over the years. That said, would welcome a change from the old guard.

    The most intriguing matchup for me is who guards Jabari Parker and whether we can hold him to 20 or under.

  10. Jim S. says:

    Great line, Stuart. Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail, right?

    “He chose … wisely.”

  11. Jim S. says:

    Not a 40-minute solid defensive effort from Pitt tonight, but solid enough when they absolutely needed it. Clark Kellogg would say that this team has “spurt-ability.”

    Lamar Patterson continues to come up big every time he is needed. I still say the ball looks small in those bear paw hands of his. He is old school basketball at it’s best.

    JRob grows offensively by the game, which is exactly what was needed when Durand went down. No more foul trouble allowed for him, though. No one else can run this team well enough yet.

    Zanna is much improved. I still don’t think he finishes strong enough around the hoop, though. But, from where he has come, he is having a nice senior season. The effort and ability to run the court are exceptional.

    The foul shooting is fine, so long as it is Patterson and JRob doing most of the foul shooting. Cam Wright does a lot of good things, but his foul shooting for a red shirt soph guard is unacceptably bad. He looks so much like Celtic great, Dennis Johnson, that it is uncanny.

    The 3-headed Artis/Young/Randall monster is a question mark most nights. Artis was good tonight.

    Pitt needs someone else to step up with the 3’s.

    Best Turgeon quote, via DK tweet: “Pitt is one of the best teams that I have ever coached against. Only being ranked #20 is a joke.” Respect.

    You can tell that Jamie loves coaching this team in particular. Must be rewarding for a coach when they play pretty much exactly as he has outlined for them just about every night.

    Monday will be a blast. Duke is still Duke. Pitt needs that win.

  12. Ghost says:

    Thanks Stuart. We’ll see what happens when the email notices come in March. (In our day, word came via mailbox. And we waited till April.) I’d prefer she stayed nearby in California. But if she has to go far away, I’ll be at ease if it’s Pitt and Pittsburgh.

  13. Drew71 says:

    Turgeon’s quote? In college basketball, rankings are meaningless. See, there’s this thing called a Tournament…

    and there’s this thing called a Selection Committee which pretty much ignores the rankings when, um, selecting.

    All that said, and from the perspective of my not-a-pitt-fan, uh, perspective…and after watching pitt play Syracuse pretty much even last week…if i ignored the jerseys and rankings and, ahem, closed my eyes and watched, i would have thought it was a Top 5 team.

    So i guess, uh, Turgeon? Well, um, yeah. Me too.


  14. Drew71 says:

    One more thought.

    For much of Dixon’s time, his teams are not the best teams.

    But they are often often often the best COACHED team. And other coaches know that.

    So Dixon. He’s a “Coach’s Coach”.

    And if anybody is still wondering. Or cares. I am NOT a pitt fan. I am a DIXON fan.

  15. bpn8pitt says:

    Really been surprised and wrong about this team from the jump. I thought they were gonna have serious problem with size and getting rebounds. I still don’t think the ACC is overrated just down, as many have said.

    I’ll be surprised if Pitt loses tommorow. Sounds like the team and the Pete are gonna prove a point to the national audience.

  16. bpn8pitt says:

    Not sure if you have ever made it to Melbourne, AUS, Dejan. But that area where Rod Laver is, is a massive sports complex. I think the held the Olympics there many years ago. I saw a rugby league game at AAMI stadium at the same time a Pitbull concert was going on at the main Laver stadium. They let out at the same time. 60-80k people. The trains whisked people out of there, if I remember there were 8 platforms, or so. Olympics are going back there. Melbourne is a public transportation dream.

    Sochi? I think your gonna have issues. Be safe.

  17. pistolpete says:

    Been disappointed by pitt in past.
    I’m really hoping not this time not this year.
    I’m sensing Jamie is lengthening the leash a bit for this group.
    It may pay off in surprise final 4.

  18. pistolpete says:

    Patterson first guy who can breakdown d single handed Jamie has had. Tough guard for any d.
    kind of player that usually beats pitt.
    I see more plays designed for him each game.
    no single player has shut him down yet. Cuse needed to triple team him at end.

  19. Right now, folks here in Daytona Beach, Florida are preoccupied with the NASCAR Rolex 24 hour endurance auto race at the Speedway, especially since you can hear the action all over town. Eventually, weather permitting, there’ll be races at the Speedway in the Poconos.

  20. Stuart says:

    Yes Jim, it’s one of my fav lines.

  21. Stuart says:

    Ghost, Genius that I am, I didn’t figure out where you were from given the time difference. Pitt would certainly be a formidable commute! And you daughter might need a new wardrobe to cover PA in the winter time. It was minus 2 degrees in my PA town when I got up this morning. BTW, kids at PItt can use their Pitt IDs to ride Pittsburgh transit modalities free. My kid spent his first two weeks at Pitt (before classes) riding Pittsburgh busses, and taking in many museums (also free admission with Pitt ID).


  22. Arriba Wilver says:

    Cutch and Hurdle received their MVP and Manager of the Year awards last night at the BBWAA dinner.

  23. Drew71 says:

    My youngest son, when he was an undergrad, lived walking distance from the Daytona Speedway. Getting in and out on a race day was interesting.

    Not that I’m trying to, but I can’t seem to get away from the area. About the time my son was leaving Daytona, my firm opened an office just north of Daytona, in Ormond Beach. I visit it once or twice a month.

    For those who don’t know, Daytona is also the home of the LPGA.

    My son, who doesn’t play, seems to be following golf around Florida. After leaving the LPGA’s home, he’s going to grad school in West Palm Beach, not far from the PGA HQ.

    One more stop for this wandering post of meaningless family-geography-sports connections…

    I dug out my Toledo Mudhens bullpen jacket this weekend and started wearing it again. In so doing, I was reminded that no matter where I am, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, wherever, that article of clothing draws more comments than the rest of my wardrobe combined.

    When someone is looking at it close up, we get into a whole other conversation. Because the jacket is signed by Jamie Farr.

    Ok. Somebody save me from myself and change the subject.

  24. Drew71 says:


  25. 21sthebest says:

    I heard Cutch’s speech was excellent but haven’t seen any video yet. Small snippet on

  26. Stanislaus Wawrinka won the Aussie Open over Rafael Nadal this morning since Nadal hurt his back during the match. It was Stan the Man’s first career Grand Slam.

  27. JoeyBats says:

    agree with a lot of your points Jim.

    some of my concerns remain….

    1. Concerned with Can Wright handling the ball. He’s improved a ton over his performance the past 2 years….but an area for more improvement is BALL SECURITY….he remains awful @ the top of the key on offense. I cringe when he has the ball ….never know when he makes a bad pass…or gets stripped. :-(

    2. Foul shooting in CRUNCH TIME. Coming down the end of games…last 5 minutes…Panthers seem to revert to old form” …..miss a lot of front end of 1on1’s …..or only 1 fer 2’s. Need to up their game here getting closer to tourney time.

    3. Worst nightmare was realized yesterday….James Robinson fouls out near the end of game & we have no one else to handle the ball. Mr. Newkirk is still really green…….and is an abomination @ the FT line.

    4. Yes, with Durand J getting injued….Lamar remains our only 3 ball threat…and GOOD DEFENSIVE teams will take care of that in the tourney.

    All of that said ……..

    * gotta love the “grit” of this team…they play with a ton of heart
    * their team defense usually is ON (few breakdowns during the game)
    * rebounding is consistent
    * Coach Jamie is the glue that keeps them TOGETHER

    HTP….BEAT DUKE !!!

  28. JohninOshkosh says:

    First of many for Stan, I predict. Great personality for the sport of tennis.

  29. Drew71 says:

    I can’t wait until Bylsma wins the HWAA-HA-HA.

    That’ll be good for a few laughs around here.

  30. You may have also heard by now that Tiger had a horrible round at the Farmers’ Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and is going home early. He was certainly rusty yesterday and was bogeying holes right and left.

  31. 21sthebest says:

    Small snippet. Like there’s any other kind of snippet.

  32. JohninOshkosh says:

    I know the Pete will be rocking tomorrow night. But, I’ll be interested to see if the noise and pandemonium will have any affect on the Blue Devils. This is a team that routinely goes to places like MSG, Rupp, the Phog, Dean Smith Center and other legendary venues. I would be a bit surprised if the Pete rattles Duke much at all.

    But, I hope it does.

  33. bpn8pitt says:

    I still think he has a chance to grab a major or two. But I think breaking nicklaus’s record is starting to look slim. His body is betraying him.

  34. Good column. Since I couldn’t get on DK’s before church today, I enjoyed yours after. Now, his works, too. All we need is Bowser to come home from Disney and write one.

  35. Patrick(RI) says:

    I have been a follower of ACC BB since the days when the ACC Tournament was THE sports event of the year, and Frank Maguire fled to the SEC for easier pickings. I still find it hard to accept Syracuse and Pitt in the mix (I haven’t even fully adapted to Boston College, though they are on the Atlantic Coast). In the case of Cuse and Pitt, the basketball is strengthened enough to off-set the loss of old focus, not to mention Maryland. After watching Pitt deal with the unusually weak ACC, so far, I have to admit the team looks strong. Wholly concur with DK’s assessment of Robinson — fun to watch him play. Duke vs Pitt will be a real indicator.

  36. UNC games will be epic too. Always rooted for duke in those games cuz of coach k but wont have a problem disliking tobacco road as a whole.

  37. Ghost says:

    Sorry Stuart. We’re in Vegas. But I lived in Indiana County as a child. No ties now to Western Pa. now, but DK’s Blog here makes me feel like I still belong. Have gone back twice in last five years with wife and kids. Kids absolutely enchanted with Pittsburgh. Except for that weather you mention, and of course, that distance, I would be a very content parent if my daughter landed in Pittsburgh. The wife and I might even give new meaning to the word “snow bird.” :-D

  38. Arriba Wilver says:

    Being a UVA undergrad I won’t have any trouble at all rooting against Duke and UNC. When they play each other I hope they both lose. ;-)

  39. Arriba Wilver says:

    Maybe if you ask him nicely Drew will compose it before church next time and you can use it as a sermon. ;-)

  40. Patrick (ri) says:

    Watching Clemson vs UNC. Neither team impresses, but I cannot imagine how this Clemson group destroyed Duke?

  41. JohninOshkosh says:

    The great Steve Coogan should be required to work all award shows.

  42. JohninOshkosh says:

    You gotta love Dave Grohl.

    Wonderfully bizarre Daft Punk the only thing interesting so far at the Grammys. That, and apparently the band Chicago still exists. Who knew ?

  43. Good idea. My messages go around 45 minutes. I think Drewski could fill that.


  44. david s says:

    since the nfl rewards supposedly the best officials with championship and super bowl gigs, do they punish the worst by assigning them to the pro bowl?

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