Ramon And Panthers Have Moved On

One might believe that the Pitt men's basketball team is still basking in the glow from its spectacular win against West Virginia on Ronald Ramon's last-second 3-pointer last week, but the senior point guard says that's not the case.

Pittsburgh (18-5, 6-4) is too focused on its Big East matchup with Providence College (13-10, 4-7) Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Petersen Events Center.

"The past few games, after a big game, we came back not as strong as we wanted to,'' Ronald Ramon said. "So, we're trying to put that last game behind us to get ready for Providence. It helps our body to have a couple more days, especially this late in the season, but we're still working hard.

"These last games are big as far as the Big East is concerned. Every game is tough, and every game is big. Four (losses) aren't going to put us at the bottom of the Big East, so if we win these last games that will put us right there to compete for the Big East regular-season championship.''

Providence has five players scoring in double-figures and is led by junior guard Jeff Xavier with 12.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Other starters, sophomore guards Dwain Williams and Brian McKenzie, are at 11.7 and 11.1 points, respectively, while McKenzie also averages four rebounds per game.

Geoffrey McDermott, a 6-foot-8 junior swing player, averages 10.4 points per game. However, he leads the Friars in rebounds with 8.3 per contest and is tops in assists as well. It's those aspects of his game that Pitt coach Jamie Dixon just raved about while discussing Providence.

"He's a very good player,'' Dixon said. "We recruited him, and for his size he can really see the floor and can pass. He also can rebound and get assists. Those aren't little things. ... Those are interesting stats to have, assists and rebounds, but he doesn't score enough to rate high with some people.

"I rated him in the all-league, higher than other people did, because his assists and rebounds are great. That's a rare combination. (And) they play a lot of different guys, and different guys play more minutes in different games. So, we've got to out-rebound them, but not by just a few. We've got to out-rebound other teams by big numbers.''

The Friars' other starter is 6-11 junior center Randall Hanke, who averages 8.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Also, junior guard Weyinmi Efejuku is a key player off the bench with 1.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest.

"Providence, they're a team that likes to run in transition,'' Ramon said. "They're a very smart team and are very well-coached team that goes out there and plays hard to the last game each season.

"They have some good guards and good shooters, but they also have some big guys who run the floor and hit the boards. So, we need to be award of that. (And) Providence likes to shoot the 3, so we have to play better perimeter defense against them like we did against West Virginia.''

This is a big week for Pitt, which travels to Marquette for a critical Big East matchup Friday night at 9. The Panthers are in fifth place by themselves, one-half game ahead of Marquette and one behind Connecticut for fourth place and a first-round bye at the Big East Tournament. Georgetown, Notre Dame and Louisville are the top three teams in the Conference standings.

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