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Tag:Jamie Dixon
Posted on: November 12, 2008 12:46 pm

Dear Gary (on Arizona's bleeding)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How do you see this mess at Arizona working out? Are they going to be able to land a top-notch coach at the end of the season and stop the bleeding? There are some absurd names being tossed around. Who would be on your list?

-- Beau

Of course, the bleeding can be stopped.

But it's going to be a lot like the Indiana situation.

Again, the timing of Lute Olson's retirement was a killer; it'll have a lasting effect. But I imagine Tom Crean will get Indiana turned around in a span of three years, and Arizona could easily be turned around that quickly as well if the right guy is hired.

Who is that guy?

As I've written before -- like five minutes after Olson retired -- the two obvious candidates are Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Gonzaga's Mark Few. Granted, both are in good spots right now and might not see the need to bolt. But I genuinely believe at least one of them would move for the right money if the circumstances were perfect. So Arizona would be silly not to shoot for the top, see what happens and go from there.

Posted on: October 24, 2008 6:42 am
Edited on: October 24, 2008 2:21 pm

Dear Gary (on possible Arizona replacements)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How about a list of coaches or your views on who Arizona may consider to replace Lute Olson? ... I think Tennessee's Bruce Pearl would be a good candidate (after he buys a suit).

-- UKFan68

A Kentucky fan trying to get Pearl out of the SEC East, huh?

You sneaky devil you.

Seriously, what Pearl has done at Tennessee in three seasons is remarkable, so you'll get no argument from me about whether he'd be good at Arizona. But as I said minutes after Thursday's news came down, the two obvious top candidates to replace Olson on a permanent basis should be Gonzaga's Mark Few and Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon.

Would either come right now?

No, not at this minute.

Both have Final Four-caliber teams and neither would relocate less than two weeks before Arizona's first exhibition. So what that means is that the Wildcats will likely use an interim this season (it'll be assistant Russ Pennell, according to a source) and then conduct a national search that should start and stop with Few or Dixon.

You want some other possibilities?

VCU's Anthony Grant would be intriguing, as would Washington State's Tony Bennett. And if athletic director Jim Livengood wanted to "keep it in the family" he could tab former Arizona player and assistant Josh Pastner, who is now at Memphis. Obviously, Pastner is only 31 and without head coaching experience. But if you think he's going to be good (and just about everybody does) then why not go for it if you are compelled to move quickly and strongly?

I mean, Billy Donovan was 28 when he got his first head coaching gig.

John Calipari was 29.

Those two have done OK, haven't they?

But again, I'm just throwing out Grant, Bennett and Pastner as back-up plans, because the first two options should be Few and Dixon. Both are experienced and proven winners with west-coast ties (Few has been in the WCC forever and is from Oregon; Dixon is from the Los Angeles-area and assisted Ben Howland at Northern Arizona in the mid-1990s) and still young enough (Few is 45, Dixon 42) to where it's reasonable to think they'll be going strong for at least another 15 years. And, yes, I honestly believe one of them (if not both) would accept an offer after this season under certain circumstances because they will both be facing revamped rosters in 2009-10, making it an ideal time to leave if they were ever going to leave (Gonzaga will lose Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and perhaps Austin Daye after this season; Pitt will lose Sam Young, Levance Fields and perhaps DeJuan Blair).

Now I know what you're thinking, Gonzaga and Pitt fans.

You're thinking that Few and Dixon have already turned down multiple opportunities to leave, that they love their jobs and wouldn't mind retiring from their current positions. I acknowledge all of that to be true. But you must understand Arizona is a different animal, one of the top 10 programs in America, and that it would be difficult for either to pass on this gig if they felt comfortable with the administration and received the money Arizona is capable of dishing out.

As for Few specifically, at what point does he become bored killing folks in the WCC? You’ve got to think he'll want to try something new at some point, and Arizona would be a great situation, about as good a situation as would ever present itself. So those would be the reasons for Few to leave Gonzaga, to face a new challenge and see if he can run one of the nation's power programs.

And trust me, he'd be great at Arizona.

But so would Dixon.

And to the Pitt fans who have already emailed to inform me that if Dixon was in a hurry to get back west he would've taken the California job after last season, I'll just ask whether you ever considered whether it's possible Dixon rejected California because he knew Arizona would be opening soon? It would be crazy to take the Cal job if you thought you could get Arizona a year or two later, wouldn't it? And as I pointed out in Thursday's column, nobody in basketball circles really thought Olson was going to last more than one more year, meaning it's pretty safe to assume Dixon saw this day coming and has long known he'd be an obvious candidate.

Anyway, that's my long answer to a short question.

Arizona should hire an interim coach, get through this season and then pursue Few or Dixon.

Assuming the Wildcats could get one of them, the program would be set for 15 years.

And then these tumultuous times would seem like a distant memory.

Posted on: October 23, 2008 12:40 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2008 1:03 pm

Olson stepping down at Arizona

Lute Olson is stepping down as Arizona's basketball coach, a source has confirmed to

The development comes less than a week after the start of official practice and one day after Olson, 74, missed a workout and scheduled speaking engagement at the Rotary Club of Tucson luncheon for what was deemed "health-related" reasons by Arizona officials, including athletic director Jim Livengood. Associate head coach Mike Dunlap is expected to replace Olson on an interim basis.

ESPN's Dick Vitale first reported the news Thursday.

A message left on the cell phone of Livengood by was not immediately returned.

Looking ahead, it's reasonable for fans of Gonzaga and Pittsburgh to start worrying because Mark Few and Jamie Dixon will almost certainly develop into serious candidates to replace Olson on a permanent basis. Few obviously has strong west-coast ties while Dixon, from the Los Angeles area, is familiar with the state of Arizona given how he assisted Ben Howland at Northern Arizona in the mid-1990s.

Posted on: September 30, 2008 12:51 pm

Clinic to benefit former Messiah College coach

A group of coaches -- including Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Xavier's Sean Miller -- will host a coaching clinic Oct. 16 at La Roche College in Pittsburgh. It's a rare midweek clinic on the Thursday night before colleges start practice, and all proceeds from the event will go towards the Dave Manzer Heart Fund.

Who is Dave Manzer?

He's the former head coach at Messiah College who is in a Milwaukee hospital awaiting a heart transplant. Meantime, his wife Kathy and three children -- Andrea (20), Erica (16), and Aaron (6) -- are left without a husband and father healthy enough to earn a living, meaning though times are tough for much of the country it's probably fair to assume most of our problems pale in comparison to the ones with which the Manzer family is dealing.

The cost of the event is $20.

For more information email Scott Lang at

But here are the basics ...

What: Coaches Clinic to benefit the Dave Manzer Heart Fund

When: October 16

Where: La Roche College in Pittsburgh

                                         -- Agenda --

  • Former Memphis assistant Ed Schilling (5 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.)
  • Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon (5:45 p.m. - 7 p.m.)
  • Xavier head coach Sean Miller (7 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.)
  • Baylor assistant Matthew Driscoll (8:15 - close)
Posted on: July 18, 2008 10:46 am

Dear Gary (on Pitt)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I have to question your low ranking for Pitt this year. Along with Sam Young -- who has been getting nothing but extremely high praise this summer -- and DeJuan Blair, Pitt also boasts arguably the best point guard in the conference in Levance Fields as well as Gilbert Brown, a young man on the verge of great things. Other than finding a reliable shooting guard out of Brad Wanamaker, Jermaine Dixon or an incoming freshman, Pitt is loaded, deep, experienced, and primed for a huge year. I definitely think the Panthers are a Top 5 team going into the season, maybe No. 1 or No. 2 if Mike Cook gets his redshirt granted.

-- Ryan

OK, Ryan, let me make sure I understand.

You think Pitt needs to be in the top five.

And I have them eighth.

So we're essentially arguing over three spots in my Ridiculously Early But Still Kind of Fun Preseason Top 25 (and one) that was published last month, correct? If so, wow. And God bless you! Because it's folks like you -- folks who care about this sport 365 days per year and to a somewhat questionable degree -- who keep me going 365 days per year (and provide potential editions of Dear Gary for every single one of them).

Anyway, back to Pitt.

You saw that I have the Panthers eighth, right?

That means we're pretty close in our assessments, though I fully acknowledge a reasonable person could place the Panthers higher because I agree with you that Pitt is "primed for a huge year." In fact, I'm starting to wonder when Pitt won't be "primed for a huge year" considering Jamie Dixon's track record and the way he's recruiting.

Dixon is now five years in at Pitt, for those unfamiliar.

He's made the NCAA tournament every season.

He's won at least 20 games every season.

And now he has a Top 10 (or perhaps even a top five) team ready to compete for the Big East title, and recruiting is also going well considering Pitt just picked up a commitment from Dante Taylor, a 6-foot-8 McDonald's All-American candidate who chose the Panthers over Syracuse, Kansas and Connecticut. In other words, Dixon has continued what Ben Howland started and made Pitt one of the more stable programs in America, and it's comical in hindsight that the school was at least exploring the possibility of hiring anybody other than Dixon when Howland moved to UCLA in 2003.

As for Mike Cook, yeah, that would be a huge boost if the NCAA granted him another year. I'm told Pitt officials believe it's legitimately up in the air, about a 50-50 shot. And if that happens, don't worry, I'll get Pitt into my top five, I promise.

Posted on: April 11, 2008 12:16 am

Tony Bennett must hate money or something

Everybody knew Oklahoma State officials would put big money on the table for Bill Self. And they did. But it appears the school is also willing to pay top-dollar for a high-profile coach even if said high-profile coach is not named Self, and one direction OSU has already looked is towards Washington State's Tony Bennett.

Three different sources told late Thursday that either an Oklahoma State official or someone speaking on behalf of an Oklahoma State official reached out to Bennett before Self formally rejected OSU's offer and promised the school could make Bennett among the highest-paid coaches in the nation if he was interested in talking if/once Self opted to remain at Kansas. According to the sources, Bennett rejected the overtures almost immediately and reiterated that he plans to continue coaching at Washington State.

So it's official, isn't it?

Tony Bennett is one content SOB.

And now the attention is back on Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder, who seems set on making a splash with this hire thanks to the money booster T. Boone Pickens can provide. Some notable possibilities bouncing around basketball circles are Southern California's Tim Floyd, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings and Memphis' John Calipari -- though it's unclear whether any of those coaches would actually jump from the good positions they currently hold. Among the more realistic possibilities being mentioned are Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and VCU's Anthony Grant, the latter of whom one source believes will ultimately make the most sense.
Posted on: March 27, 2008 9:24 am

This Indiana seach is going to be intriguing

CHARLOTTE -- The coaching carousel is gaining speed, evidence being Wednesday's hiring of Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State and firing of Ben Braun at California. So Missouri State is now filled and Cal is now open. But the best job available is still Indiana, where the names most regularly mentioned as potential replacements are Washington State's Tony Bennett, Xavier's Sean Miller and Tennessee's Bruce Pearl.

Two other names making the rounds here at the East Regional: Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Texas' Rick Barnes.

Would either take the job if offered?

Honestly, it's hard to say -- though all indications are that Barnes is perfectly happy at Texas while a move further west would make more sense for Dixon considering he's from California. Still, multiple sources said Wednesday night that Indiana officials are at least interested to know whether Dixon or Barnes (along with Bennett, Miller and Pearl) would be interested in taking over the Hoosiers program, meaning Dixon and Barnes are legitimate IU targets until they make it clear they don't want to be.
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