Pittsburgh Basketball: Panthers Need More From Talib Zanna

By Gregory Philson
Talib Zanna
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Panthers finally picked up a victory — and a confidence-booster — after surviving a comeback against the Boston College Eagles on the road Wednesday. Talib Zanna led the way with 21 points and six rebounds.

While Zanna took advantage of the Eagles’ less-than-stellar post defense, he should be more of a force as the regular season turns over to the postseason. Zanna — like the team — has struggled over last few weeks and has four games in the last seven that he did not score more than seven points. Zanna actually is shooting well, but he does not demand the ball enough and seems reluctant to call for it.

Zanna’s numbers are respectable at 12.5 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game, but he needs to the player who helps out Lamar Patterson as defenses continue to clamp down on Pitt’s leading scorer. Zanna has proven this season he can be a force inside with 10 games of 15 points or more and nine games with at least 10 rebounds. However, considering his size, he should have even more games with those numbers.

Pittsburgh’s recent slide has one main problem: The offense went through a month-long slump. While the Panthers looked more like the offensive team they were earlier in the season, stretches against Boston College still left something to be desired. These kinds of droughts are exactly where Zanna needs to chip in. Zanna is not a massive inside player, but he does have his moments where he looks very light on his feet but is unable to finish near the basket. He must turn these moves into scores when the tournament season comes along.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon knows he cannot completely rely on Patterson to take over every single game from here on out, and if there is one player who can help out when Patterson is taken out of games it is Zanna. But he needs to find the confidence to do so. The Panthers take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend on Saturday, and Zanna must show he can carry over success from one game to the next.

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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