Another Feather In Dixon's Cap

Call it a changing of the guard for USA basketball.

Halting a three-year reign by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon was named the 2009 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year after guiding Team USA to the FIBA Under-19 World Championship this past July in New Zealand.

Krzyzewski won by himself in 2006 and shared the honor the past two years with Anne Donovan. Other prominent award-winners include Larry Brown in 1999 and 2003 and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim in 2001. The honor can be given to coaches at the NBA, WNBA or college levels and was first awarded in 1996.

"This is a tremendous honor from an outstanding organization,'' Dixon said in a released statement. "Everyone (from) our coaching staff, players and USA Basketball support staff contributed to our success this summer, and this award is a direct reflection of their hard work, dedication and commitment.

"It was a rewarding experience for everyone associated with our team. I want to personally thank Jerry Colangelo and the Board of Directors, Jim Boeheim, Jim Tooley and Sean Ford, along with the entire USA Basketball organization for the opportunity to coach the Under-19 team this summer.''

Dixon's USA squad compiled a perfect 9-0 record July 2-12 in Auckland, New Zealand, ending an 18-year drought for USA Basketball, which hadn't won the men's U19 Worlds since 1991.

"Jamie Dixon has established himself as one of the finest collegiate coaches there is in the game today, and this past summer he proved himself on the international court too,'' USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said.

"In leading the USA Men's U19 Team to the World Championship, he not only accomplished something that the U.S. had not done since 1991, but to do so he had to quickly form a team from 12 individual players and earn their respect and confidence. He obviously did so, and his team responded by winning its nine games in an impressive team manner.''

USA Basketball also nominated Dixon for the U.S. Olympic Committee's National Coach of the Year award, which is expected to be announced in Jan., 2010.

"(Coach Dixon) helped my game out a lot,'' Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.), captain of the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team, said. "He stressed that I should be more of a leader and be more vocal. Since I was a point guard, I was more in control in making sure everyone got the ball in the right position, and he helped me accept that role.

"He made it clear that my job was to get everyone involved, stay positive and not worry about individual goals. His practices were very intense. Everything was full speed, so you had to pick up things quickly. But he emphasized the right things, the things you need to do to be successful.''

The USA team, which averaged 88.2 points per game and defeated opponents by 22.2 points per game in the 2009 U19 Worlds, began its journey with team trials, June 16-18 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Following the Trials, 12 players were selected to the 2009 USA U19 Word Championship Team, including DeAngelo Casto (Washington State / Spokane, Wash.), Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.), Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.), Mack, Darius Miller (Kentucky / Maysville, Ky.), Arnett Moultrie (UTEP / Memphis, Tenn.), John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.), Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.), Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.). Dixon was assisted by collegiate head coaches Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois University and Matt Painter of Purdue University.

The USA U19 World Championship Team got its first taste of international basketball in friendly scrimmages against Croatia's and Canada's U19 National Team on June 28 and 29. Including scrimmages and trials, the USA had just 14 days to train prior to the U19 World Championship.

The USA opened the U19 Worlds with a 106-55 win against Iran July 2 and also posted a 71-55 victory against France. Then, the squad closed preliminary play with a 112-55 drubbing against Egypt. In the second round, the U.S. defeated Greece 85-69, Puerto Rico 82-61 and Lithuania 76-69 to advance to the medal round quarterfinals as a No. 1 seed.

The USA claimed a 93-73 win against Canada July 10 to advance to the semifinals where it fought off Croatia for an 81-77 win. In the gold medal game July 12, which featured a rematch with Greece, the U.S. recorded an 88-80 victory to finish undefeated and claim the U19 World Championship.

Under Dixon's guidance, the USA played as a balanced team, with all 12 players averaging between 10.8 and 4.4 points per game. Two U.S. team members, Taylor and Hayward, were named to the five-member U19 all-star team based on their performances throughout the tournament.

Among the 16 teams, the USA ranked first in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goals made (204), 3-point field goals made (84), 3-point field goals taken (238) and fewest turnovers per game (12.9). The U.S. defense limited foes to just 66 points per contest and 38.2 percent shooting from the field.

The U.S. squad set single-game USA U19 World Championship team records for 3-point field goals made (14) and attempted (37) and most blocked shots (12), while an individual game mark was tied by Hayward and Shurna for blocked shots (4). Thompson set a USA individual competition high for 3-point percentage (.516).

The 2009 squad also established USA U19 competition records for 3-point field goals made and attempted, free throws attempted (239), assists (145) and blocked shots (58).

Dixon's impressive performance as a USA head coach came on the heels of a record-setting NCAA season. In his sixth season at Pitt in 2008-09, Dixon guided the Panthers to an Elite Eight appearance, a school-best 31-5 record, the school's first No. 1 national ranking and initial No. 1 seed entering the 2009 NCAA Tournament. He was rewarded with college basketball's most prestigious national award and named the 2009 Naismith National Coach of the Year.

With a .698 winning percentage in the Big East (81-35), Dixon concluded the 2008-09 season ranked as the winningest coach by percentage in Big East history. Also in 2009, Dixon captured his 163rd career win, setting an all-time NCAA Division I record for most wins after six seasons as a head coach.

USA Basketball's National Coach of the Year award was established in 1996 to recognize a USA Basketball head coach who, during the year of the award, made significant impact on the success of individual athlete and team performance at the highest level of competition. The USA Basketball Board of Directors is responsible for selecting USA Basketball's annual coach, player and team of the year awards.

Other previous USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award winners include Donovan (2007, 2008); Krzyzewski (2006, 2007, 2008); Duke's Gail Goestenkors (2005); WNBA's Houston Comets' Van Chancellor (2004, 2002); Brown with the NBA's Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers (2003, 1999); Boeheim (2001); Nell Fortner with USA Basketball (2000); Minnesota's Clem Haskins (1998); Mo McHone with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (1997); and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (1996).

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