Basketball: Dixon, Gibbs compete in international tournament

By Jay Huerbin

As a head coach in the Big East, Jamie Dixon is used to pressure. And when Dixon was named head coach of the USA Under-19 World Championship basketball team, things didn’t get any easier.

Dixon selected the best 12-man roster, which includes Pitt sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs, to compete in the 2009 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. The tournament, which takes place in Auckland, New Zealand, begins tomorrow.

Dixon was promoted to the head coach position after Davidson coach Bob McKillop, who coached the Under-18 team last year, decided to spend more time with his team after Stephen Curry left early for the NBA Draft.

Team USA won three of the first four tournaments, but hasn’t taken gold since 1991. Dixon said he hopes to change that and bring the championship title back to the United States.

“We know we haven’t won this tournament since 1991, and so we’ve made that a goal for us,” Dixon said. “We understand what we’re up against.”

The team got off to a good start, defeating Croatia, 97-68, in a tuneup scrimmage on Sunday. Gibb’s finished second on the team in scoring in the game with 15 points.

Dixon said the thing that stands out the most on this team is how each player on the team steps up at different times.

“The strength of this team is we have 12 players — top to bottom,” Dixon said. “That might be our advantage over some other teams.”

The United States starts preliminary play with a game against Iran tomorrow morning. The team will take on France on Thursday and Egypt on Friday. Bracket play is scheduled to begin next Monday.