"I don't care about last year," he said through a thick Kiwi accent.
Funny, neither do the rest of his teammates.
True, the Panthers actually won a championship last spring, but the College Basketball Invitational isn't the kind of thing programs that are used to making deep runs in the NCAAs put on their resume. In most ways, 2011-12 was a lost season the moment point guard Tray Woodall went down with a lingering abdominal injury that forced him to sit 11 games and sent the Panthers into a tailspin in which they never recovered.
Woodall insisted Thursday he's "100 percent" but brushes off any talk that this is his team now that Ashton Gibbs has graduated.
"This is the coach's team," Woodall said. "As players, all we can do is focus on getting back to playing Pitt basketball."
Something the Panthers rarely did last winter. Their defense, normally one of the toughest in the country, looked ordinary in home losses to teams like Wagner, Long Beach State and Rutgers.
"It was embarrassing," said junior forward Lamar Patterson.
And now it's over.
Pitt isn't focused on this season being one of redemption as much as transition. The Panthers are leaving the Big East for the ACC next summer and Woodall plans to leave the conference the same way he came in, with a league title.
"That's what our goal always is," Woodall said. "I think we've got the depth this year where we think we can do it."
It's only October, sure, but even Dixon is surprisingly optimistic. Following a season in which nothing seemed to go right and he had to scrape some nights to find 10 healthy bodies to practice, he's eagerly accepted the job of trying to figure out how to get 15 guys on the floor.
"We've got good size," Dixon said. "And we're going to have the versatility to play a couple different ways defensively and do some things that we have in the past. We've got to be the best defensive team in the conference. That's what we've done when we've won conference championships."
Adams and Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler also give the Panthers a much-needed talent influx. Zeigler averaged 15.8 points last season and was granted a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately at Pitt after his father, Ernie, was fired by the Chippewas last spring.
His arrival should soften the blow from Gibbs' departure, and his ability to create off the dribble should open things up for shooters on the wings and give Adams some space.