The Pittsburgh Panthers’ deep roster isn’t going to be enough to get them back into the AP’s rankings without fine tuning the offense first.
Pittsburgh is 4-1 on the season after a competitive loss to the Michigan Wolverines that had its share of positives for the Panthers.
Despite the defeat, Pittsburgh has displayed this season they are a much better team than the preseason predictions were suggesting. Especially when you take into account the buzz around the Panthers in the preseason surrounded freshman Steven Adams. Adams didn’t even score a point in a game Pittsburgh took a top five team down to the wire. Although Adams was never expected to be an offensive force, he was the only player out of 10 for Pittsburgh that saw action and failed to record a point.
Sharing the scoring load has been a common theme for the Panthers through its first five games as the team has had four different leading scorers to begin the season. The only player to lead the team in scoring twice was J.J. Moore and he did it after coming off the bench in both games. Talib Zanna, Tray Woodall and Lamar Patterson are the others to have led the Panthers in scoring.
The problems that could arise with sharing the scoring load is the same problem Pittsburgh had late in the game against the Wolverines, the lack of a go-to scorer. Sharing the offensive load and getting everyone involved is nice in theory but a good team needs a go-to scorer to close out tight games. Once Michigan tied the game at 44-44 with nine minutes remaining, the Wolverines began to play through Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored nine points in the final nine minutes. Pittsburgh failed to counter with its own leader on offense because it was a situation they haven’t really faced early in the new season.
Pittsburgh won its first three games by blowing out the competition and its overtime comeback victory was led by the bench. Therefore there hasn’t been a need for a go-to scorer to step up and take over in a close game. Its still something that Pittsburgh needs to change before the problem occurs again and costs the Panthers another big victory.
It’s no question Pittsburgh has the talent to put the basket into the hoop, they just need somebody to become a little selfish while the rest of the team plays through him. Whoever is hot in any given game can’t be counted on to still be hot late in the game, so the scoring by committee theory needs to end late in tight games. At the point the Panthers need to play through Zanna, who already has a pair of 20-point games this season.
Zanna took one shot in the last nine minutes of the Michigan game and that is nowhere near enough for the Panthers most talented scorer. Woodall could focus more on setting up his teammates and being one of the best passing point guards in the nation. It lets Moore provide an offensive spark off the bench, giving time for Zanna to rest. It also takes pressure off freshmen Adams and James Robinson to score, allowing them to chip in when the opportunity presents itself instead of forcing the issue.
Most importantly, it will eliminate the awkward offense that attempted to close out the game against Michigan. The same offense that appeared like it had no idea who wanted to shoot the ball.