Pittsburgh Basketball: Talib Zanna Is a Difference Maker

By Gregory Philson
Talib Zanna
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Panthers‘ Talib Zanna is coming off a terrific performance of 16 points and 12 rebounds in the team’s victory over Wake Forest Saturday. Zanna is an extremely efficient player, which was evident in his 5-of-8 day from the field and zero turnovers.

Zanna may not be Pittsburgh’s best player but with two games this upcoming week both on the road against Georgia Tech and No. 2 ranked Syracuse, Zanna could be the major difference in how Pitt is looked at this time next week.

Zanna did not average 10 points last season despite playing more than 23 minutes per game and taking up a lot of space inside. His scoring numbers mostly suffered because he did not have to be a focus on offense. Coming into this season, coach Jamie Dixon obviously had different thoughts for how Zanna should contribute to Pittsburgh’s overall scheme. Zanna has taken to this new role in his senior year and now averages 12.4 rebounds on 58.4-percent field goal shooting. Zanna is a great compliment to Pittsburgh’s leading scorer and best player Lamar Patterson. While Patterson has taken the lead role head-on, it definitely has to be a relief for him to have someone like Zanna who can be trusted to score the easy baskets inside and grab a clutch rebound down the stretch. It is also a relief for Zanna that he does not have to the main focus. Zanna is not someone who can completely take over a game day-after-day, but he can be there in spot situations to be a reliable and capable post player.

Zanna will probably not lead the Panthers in scoring this week, but he very well could be the player who grabs a big rebound, scores off an offensive rebound or plays terrific post defense when it is desperately needed in a big week in the ACC for Pittsburgh.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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