|Pitt: No apologies||03.25.09 at 4:13 pm ET|
If you’re expecting Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon to apologize for his team’s underwhelming performance as a No. 1 seed in the East Regional in the first two rounds, here’s some advice – don’t bother.
Pittsburgh struggled mightily with No. 16 seed East Tennessee in round one and was tied at halftime with No. 8 Oklahoma State in the second round before winning by eight, 84-76.
“I guess it reinforces things,” Dixon told reporters about the close calls in the first two games. “We didn’t rebound well in the first game, and the second game we got better, and out-rebounded our opponent by 20, that was something, I think.”
With Xavier on tap on Thursday night, one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country, Dixon knows his players need to bring their best to the glass to continue their march in March.
“I think it was what we learned was we can win — really that Oklahoma State game showed we can win offensively, we can win defensively in the second half. That was an interesting game, because you had two teams shooting, knocking down shots the first half. And the second half became a grind it out defensive affair. And we played that way, as well, played successfully in that half, as well. You learn you can play two different ways this time of the year.”
Moments after learning his team was a No. 1 seed for the first time ever, Dixon was asked by CBS-TV whether he was concerned about jinxes and comparisons to the Chicago Cubs.
” This team is different than any other team,” Dixon said on Wednesday. “And again, that’s — Sweet 16 is an accomplishment. If it was — if it wasn’t, teams would have got there more than we have. And there’s only two that have been there more than we have the last eight years, Duke and Kansas have been there more than us. There aren’t any buys into the Sweet 16. I think maybe it’s forgotten.”
And for the record, Pittsburgh has never beaten a team seeded higher than sixth in the NCAA tournament. Xavier is No. 4 in the East.
“Yeah, I think this team is different than the previous team from last year, and it’s definitely different from the team six years ago, five years ago, four years ago,” Dixon said. “All the times we’ve made it we have different players, we’re playing different teams. And at the same time we know we have a very good opponent to play tomorrow in Xavier.”