It was not that long ago the Pittsburgh Panthers were considered one of the best teams in the ACC. However, the Panthers have lost five games in the conference, including four of their last six, and now stand in fifth place.
The easiest excuse has been an offense that has struggled since the Syracuse Orange exposed it with a zone that slowed the down the team and star Lamar Patterson. Pitt has not shot above 42 percent in its last six games. Even in the Panthers’ latest loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels, the offense could not get going against a man-to-man defense. Pittsburgh shot only 40 percent and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 14 times.
While Patterson is not the only player struggling, he is the face of it. Patterson has shot 29 percent in his last six games and like the team itself, he has disappeared for extended periods of time.
Even worse for Pittsburgh is that there is not a significant secondary scorer on the team. Talib Zanna can have numbers in the book, but is not skilled enough offensively to take over. Cameron Wright is flashy, but he does not have enough control of his game to get free for open jumpers.
Obviously, this is a major concern for Pittsburgh. When teams close out Patterson, the Panthers are helpless on offense. The Panthers are good enough on defense to hang around in most games, but the offense needs someone to help Patterson or find easier ways to get open shots for other players.
Pittsburgh does not play until it faces Florida State on Sunday, and maybe this time off will give its players time to rest, heal up, regroup and gain the confidence they seemed to have three weeks ago. The Panthers need to sharpen up their offense soon, or it could be faced with another early exit come NCAA tournament time.
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