Just a year after missing the NCAA tournament for just the second time in Jamie Dixon’s 12 years as a head coach, Pittsburgh holds a 17-6 record going into mid-February and is in position to compete for a spot in the Big Dance. While players like Michael Young and Jamel Artis have played key roles in the team’s success this season, the group has also leaned heavily on a trio of graduate transfers, as guard Sterling Smith and big men Rafael Maia and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa have all been major contributors to this point.
While it’s easy to acknowledge the additional experience as a factor in Pitt’s improvement, there has still been a transition as the new faces have worked to blend in. In a Friday visit with The David Glenn Show, Dixon talked about that transition.
“On paper, we look like we’re old, but we’ve got three seniors that were somewhere else last year,” the head coach said. “They bring something to the table as far as experience, but not execution-wise as far as what we’ve been doing. It’s taken some time, but they bring a different quality to it.”
While a graduate transfer doesn’t share all of the same qualities as a senior who has been in the program for four years, Dixon stated that it’s also different from bringing in a player from high school.
“They’re usually more physical,” he said of the transfers. “They seem to be used to battling. They’ve been through some things, but there are adjustments, and at times they look like a freshman, and at times they look like a senior.”
During the conversation, Dixon also discussed his upcoming matchup against UNC on Sunday, steps that coaches take to staying healthy and the importance of bouncing back from tough losses in the ACC. Click below to hear the full interview: