Pitt Panther Basketball Update

We're #1 – Well……………not yet. The mighty University of Pittsburgh basketball team almost made it to #1 this week after Florida and North Carolina lost games. PantherDigest.com Senior Writer Dale Grdnic talks with Head Coach Jamie Dixon and the Pitt basketball team about their season and the "ranking hype".

PITTSBURGH -- We're No. 2, but we try harder could be the University of Pittsburgh men's basketball team motto if the Panthers cared at all about being passed over for the No. 1 spot in both national polls announced Monday.

Pitt, 6-0 going into its game against Robert Morris Wednesday night at 7:30 at the Petersen Events Center, received 18 first-place votes but only moved from third to second in the Associated Press (writers') poll and went from fourth to third in the USA Today-ESPN (coaches') poll with five first-place votes after No. 1 Florida and No. 2 North Carolina lost this past week.

The Panthers were jumped by UCLA in both polls after the Bruins beat two ranked teams -- Kentucky and Georgia Tech -- last week in Hawaii. Ohio State, which was third in the coaches' poll, moved up to No. 1. UCLA is No. 1 in the AP poll and second in the USA Today-ESPN ranking.

"In no way should it be a disappointment to be No. 2 in the country,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We're working hard, and our guys didn't show any disappointment today. They had business to take care of (practicing for RMU), and they handled it that way.

"It's a nice accomplishment to be where we're at and anytime our university is talked about in those kinds of numbers in anything ... to be mentioned among the elite in the country is a good thing for our university. It's a good thing, and it's not bad that we didn't get No. 1.'' "We watched the games, ... but we're not disappointed,'' sophomore point guard Levance Fields said. "If would have happened, of course, we would have been grateful and definitely been happy. But to be where we are (rated) is great, and it's a great thing to be ranked so high.

"But it doesn't mean anything right now. Everybody's writing about it, but it didn't make practice any different. It didn't make us any madder or make us play any harder. We were energized because we want to get better every time we go out there, and that's what we're trying to do.''

Junior point guard Ronald Ramon had a vested interest in rooting for Kansas against Florida, because a good friend goes to school there. So, he kept a close eye on that game for that reason and nothing else.

"We don't worry about the rankings,'' Ramon said. "But how could we be disappointed to be No. 2? We just have to go out and keep winning games. As a team, you always want to do good for your school and your city.

"We feel that we're a team that can go out and play well against anybody. And if we do what we can do, we can compete with any team.''

The Panthers won their first six games for the fifth straight season and are favored to go to 7-0 to continue that streak, but they have not been ranked this high in the beginning of the season. Dixon believed that there are several reasons for that.

"I think we've beaten some good opponents,'' Dixon said. "We've played some teams that were picked to go to the NCAA Tournament, and I think it's based off of last season and even the success that we've had the past five years. Our consistency is pretty evident when you look at it.

"When you look at what we've done in that time, few teams have done as well overall. And especially in our conference, we're competing against some of the best teams in the country, but our guys know all that talk is nothing more than that. What we do on the floor is all that matters.''

Pitt's toughest stretch is directly ahead with a Sunday matchup at Auburn and Dec. 14 game at No. 12 Wisconsin.

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