Rigot and Dixon just missed
reunion at NCAA tourney

The former Hawaii basketball coaches
were in the same region
with their respective teams

By Cindy Luis

They acknowledged each other from across the court Thursday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. There wasn't time for the two former Hawaii assistant basketball coaches to do more than that.

Kentucky assistant Scott Rigot was on his way to the locker room a happy man. His top-seeded Wildcats had just run their winning streak to 26 with a 63-57 victory over Wisconsin in the first Midwest Regional semifinal.

Pittsburgh associate head coach Jamie Dixon was on the sidelines, watching the second-seeded Panthers warm up. But it was a very different scenario for Pitt in the second semifinal as the Panthers were upset by Marquette 77-74.

The loss prevented a match-up between the two ex-Rainbow assistants in today's regional final. It also meant that Rigot, a Pittsburgh native, would not have to split his emotions when playing against the Panthers.

"Sure, I was rooting for Pitt," said Rigot, in his first year with the Wildcats. "I still pull for them, as long as they're not playing Kentucky. It's like how I pull for Hawaii. Those are my two teams.

"It would have been great to play Pitt."

Dixon wishes it could have happened. Instead of preparing for an Elite Eight game, he and the Panthers were back in Pittsburgh yesterday.

"It was very disappointing," said Dixon, on Ben Howland's staff since leaving UH in 1999. "I thought we would advance for sure. But we got in a hole and (Marquette) made some shots.

"We were ranked No. 2 several times this season and I thought we were that good. We were looking forward to playing Kentucky and see how good they were and we were. They're going to have a tough game in Marquette."

Besides watching how the NCAA Tournament plays out, Dixon has some thinking to do. The 38-year-old has been contacted by Wright State and Illinois State about their head coaching vacancies.

But whether he stays for a fifth year at Pitt depends if Howland leaves. Howland has been mentioned as a leading candidate for the UCLA job.

"We'll see how things happen," said Dixon, who had two stints on the UH staff (1992-94 and 1998-99). "We have a great group coming back and some good recruits coming in. We had a great year this year and I'd like to keep it going here.

"The move here has been good for me, although my wife misses Hawaii and her family."

Dixon and his wife, the former Jacqueline Corteway, were in Hawaii last August to show off newborn son Jack Connor.

Rigot was in Hawaii last November, when Kentucky opened its 100th season of basketball at the Maui Invitational. The Wildcats went 2-1, defeating Gonzaga in the third-place game.

Kentucky has not lost in 2003. The Wildcats' last defeat was on Dec. 28, 2002, at Louisville.

"You don't even think about that at Kentucky," said Rigot, who replaced Dixon on the UH staff in 1999. "It is one game at a time. I don't know how many games we won in a row or where we were ranked until we got to No. 1. All that matters is what you do the next game.

"The fan pressure is intense here. Good is not good enough when greatness is expected."

Rigot said he and his family have finally made the adjustments to Lexington. With head-coaching aspirations, he knew he could not turn down the chance to go to Kentucky or coach again with Tubby Smith.

"It was tough leaving," said the 40-year-old Rigot. "But you have to move on. My next move will be as a head coach.

"I still have more to learn from a great coach (Smith). This program is rich in history that goes back 100 years, with seven national championships. The expectations are for us to at least get to the Final Four every year."

Kentucky is one game away from its 14th trip to the Final Four, its fourth in nine years. The Wildcats may have to do it without leading scorer Keith Bogans, who sprained his left ankle in Thursday's win over Wisconsin.

"I knew we had a good team in Maui, but I didn't know they would pull together like they have," said Rigot. "We aren't the same team as we had in Maui. I didn't think then that we'd be watching the high we've reached now."

UH Athletics

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