Pitt's Jamie Dixon praises Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton and his style


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The two longest-tenured coaches in the ACC are Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. The iconic coaches have been in their current job for 34 years and 38 years.

Third is Notre Dame's Mike Brey (14 years), but the next name might be a surprise because it is not North Carolina's Roy Williams (11 years) or Pitt's Jamie Dixon (11 years).

It's Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, in his 12th season as the Seminoles coach. He has led them to a 234-154 record.

Hamilton, in his 26th year overall (college and pro), has 434 career wins.

At Florida State, he has provided a steady hand which has helped the program achieve some stability.

Dixon said Hamilton is underappreciated because his teams usually are not flashy.

Instead, they win with great defense and rebounding while playing hard and as a team. He also said a lot of schools likely could learn from Florida State, which won the ACC tournament title in 2012.

That's because the Seminoles have stuck with Hamilton through some tough years.

As a result, Dixon thinks, Florida State always is competitive and winds up fighting for the postseason.

He also said coaches don't stick around as long as Hamilton has unless they know what they are doing and are successful. He always has admired the job that Hamilton has done.

Coming into this season, Florida State had the third-best ACC record since the 2005-06 season behind North Carolina and Duke. The Seminoles also had the third-most regular-season wins among conference members in that span.

Scouting report
 

Matchup: Pitt (20-6, 8-5 ACC) vs. Florida State (15-11, 6-8), 6 p.m. today, Petersen Events Center.

TV, radio: ESPNU; KDKA-FM (93.7).

Pitt: Has lost four of past six games. ... Is 9-1 against Florida State. ... Coming off 75-71 loss Feb. 15 at North Carolina. ... Lamar Patterson leads team in scoring (17 ppg). ... Freshman power forward combination of Jamel Artis and Michael Young have combined to average 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. ... Averages 72.5 points per game.

Florida State: Has lost seven of past 10 games. ... Won ACC tournament in 2012. ... Is 16-26 in games against Pennsylvania teams. ... Leonard Hamilton has been at school for 12 years. He has coached in college for 25 years and has 412 wins. ... Leading scorer is G Aaron Thomas (13.5 ppg).

Hidden stat: Pitt is averaging 15.8 assists and 10.4 turnovers per game.

"I thought ... when I was watching some of the game film and they had his record and how long he has been there, I said, 'Wow, he has been there a long time,' " Dixon said.

"Then, I sort of laughed because I remember we played against him my first year and so that means I've been around a long time as well.

"But I did notice that, when we went to ACC meetings and stuff, that there really are a lot of new coaches in this league.

"That says a lot about what he has done with that program and why they have had success."

Dixon paused and laughed when he realized just how long Hamilton actually has been a coach and said it might be something he would remind Hamilton about the next time they talk.

"Actually, you want to know how long he has been around?" Dixon said.

"He was actually the head coach at Oklahoma State when I played at TCU and we played against them in the '80s. I have never mentioned that to him when we've talked. It was either my junior or senior year, he may not even remember, but I may have to mention that to him."

Dixon will have a chance to talk with Hamilton about those days before Pitt (20-6, 8-5 ACC) plays the Seminoles (15-11, 6-8)Sunday night at Petersen Events Center.

Florida State was considered an NCAA tournament team until recently, when the Seminoles fell into a slump in which they have lost seven of their past 10 games. They quickly are fading and on the tournament bubble.

But Florida State had an opportunity to notch a much-needed win Monday against North Carolina. In an all too familiar plot, the Seminoles battled the Tar Heels and created some opportunities to perhaps win the game before losing, 81-75.

That means the Seminoles are desperate, which makes them dangerous to the Panthers, who are solidly in the tournament.

A victory for Florida State would be a signature win for the Seminoles.

Dixon said Florida State also is dangerous because they have a good backcourt and are tough defensively.

He said controlling Florida State's guards Aaron Thomas (13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds per game), Montay Brandon (8.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Ian Miller (13.3 ppg) will be a key for the Panthers, who must also handle the Seminoles' pressure defense.

"He always has length on his teams," Dixon said. "I remember his teams in Miami. They always had big guards and long forwards. Defense is always their trademark, and they have shot blockers

"They haven't always had inside size in the post but they always have length on the perimeter, and this team is no different. He also has some international guys, and I heard him on a radio show talking about how he wants to try and get those guys more.

"They are starting Miller now, and, obviously, their guards, especially Thomas and Miller, are explosive and can get to the basket and are well known for that, but, again, what they are really known for is their defensive pressure. That is something we are really preparing for."

The game will mark the start of a tough week for Pitt.

The Panthers play Florida State tonight before facing road games Wednesday at Boston College and Saturday at Notre Dame.

And, although the Eagles and Irish have struggled this season, playing on the road always is tough. Making it tougher will be the knowledge that Boston College upset No. 1-ranked Syracuse Wednesday and that Notre Dame's Joyce Center traditionally has been a tough place in which for the Panthers to play and win.


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.

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