After the road win over Cincinnati this week, obviously most of the attention the team is getting is going toward their guards. This first Player Spotlight will shine on Junior guard, Ronald Ramon.
Now in his third year with the Panthers, Ronald needs little introduction. Coming in as a freshman he entertained everyone with his lights-out shooting. As a sophomore we saw him take over the starting point guard position, while Carl Krauser moved to the shooting guard for his senior year. Now, many wonder why Ronald is sitting on the bench at tip-off.
Since the start of the Big East season, Ronald has obviously begun to understand his role on the team. Throughout the season, Ronald has put up better statistics than his career average in every category except steals and turnovers, even while playing fewer minutes. As exciting as that is, since starting conference play, he has improved even more.
He is averaging 11.7 ppg while shooting 57.5% in seven conference meetings. Not only is that a 13% improvement, his 3-point percentage numbers are up to an astonishing 60.7%, with only 44.3% in the non-conference season.
Now that Pitt fans everywhere are once again knocking the Panthers’ freethrow ability, Ronald is hitting a career high 86.4% in conference play. He is also drawing two more fouls per game. Listening on the radio after the loss to Marquette, I heard a number of people comment that with Carl’s departure, Pitt lacks anyone for that “go-to-guy” spot in the final moments of the game. I also recall an article in the Post-Gazette that claimed that Pitt’s shooters were accurate, but not confident.
You may question Dixon’s choice of Ronald starting on the bench, but think about what his new role is. When you have a guy who is hitting over 60% from the arc, drawing fouls and hitting over 85% of those freethrows, who else would you want in those last few seconds remaining in a close game? Ronald is turning out to be the type of clutch player about whom most teams can only dream. I don’t know what Ronald’s opinion about the starting job is, but I am willing to bet he is getting more comfortable every day. For years Pitt has lacked any real outside presence, and with Antonio, Levance, and Ronald all knocking them down like they are, add in Aaron, and now you have a team with some really intimidating offensive options.
While I will enjoy Pitt winning by double-digit margins, I am quite excited for tournament time, watching Ronald take the reins of this team, and pulling out some close victories on the road to the Final Four.