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October 12, 2012

Dixon wants to leave the Big East 'the right way'

The 2012-13 season will be Pitt's last in the Big East, a conference that has been the Panthers' home as they have grown into a college basketball contender. For his final run through the league, head coach Jamie Dixon is looking for more of the same.

"What we really want to do is finish this thing off the right way," Dixon said during his Media Day press conference on Thursday. "We've had the best record in the conference the last decade or so…by a pretty good margin, and we want to finish with that. We want to finish with the best record.

"I talked to our guys about that: we want to finish this thing the right way. Finish with the best record. Finish with the most NCAA appearances. The most Big East Championship wins. The most Big East championships. We lead in all of those categories, and we want to finish out that way.

"What we've done over the last decade, we want to continue and finish with that. That's our goal going forward: we want to maintain that and hopefully build off it as well. I think that's a good goal to strive for and a good mentality going into our final Big East season."

To wit, Pitt has a .758 overall winning percentage over the last 11 years, which ranks in the top five nationally. The Panthers have posted a 129-57 record in Big East play over that span to lead the conference, and they have made the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the last 11 seasons, which is more than any other team in the conference during that time. In those 11 seasons, Pitt has also won four Big East regular-season championships (including two Big East West Division titles) and two Big East Tournament championships.

The Pitt basketball team set the bar for itself, and Dixon expects the 2012-13 team to meet it once again.

"We want to finish with those standards," he said.

Pitt will join the ACC as a full member next summer, and while the new conference provides more stability and more marquee football opponents, Dixon still has some disappointment about leaving the Big East.

"Obviously the Big East has been a great home for us and been a tremendous place, and as I said when it became announced that we were making that move, 'bittersweet' was the phrase that I used, because it's been so good to us. But at the same time, the ACC opens up a lot of doors for our entire athletic program."

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