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Pitt Basketball: Talib Zanna Struggling

Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns contests a rebound with Talib Zanna #42 (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns contests a rebound with Talib Zanna #42 (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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With my site basically hijacked for the past week by Dave Wannstedt, Dana Holgorsen, and Mike Haywood, this has been on the back burner a bit. I had been trying to get a post up on Talib Zanna, but the Post-Gazette beat me to it.

Talib Zanna's game has taken a hit since the Maryland game for whatever reason. Zanna doesn't know why:

So what's amiss?

"I really don't know," Zanna said the other day. "I just have to keep playing my game. That's what coach is saying, try to be more focused."

Zanna said he has not lost his confidence, but his production clearly has dipped. He has not scored more than six points since that double-double against the Terrapins and has scored three points or fewer in five of the past seven games.

The PG goes on to say that his production dip is coinciding with the return of Nasir Robinson, but Zanna is still getting plenty of minutes. He started the season looking better than expected, averaging nearly a double double through his first four games. Since then, he's only averaging about 3.5 points per game.
But clearly, the more important thing in his case is rebounding and those numbers have dropped as well, to a little more than three rebounds per game.
It's way too early in Zanna's career to be worrying about this kind of stuff. And I expect we'll see some more highs and lows in Zanna's season. As I've mentioned repeatedly, Pitt's big men don't have an array of moves and they're not running a lot of plays designed only for their big men (because of that aforementioned reason, in my opinion). So a lot of points for the power forwards and centers are coming as a result of putbacks ... something Zanna doesn't really have any control over.
The other question is, of course, with Nas playing better, does he get his starting job back? I don't know. Dixon has at times left better players on the bench to start games. I've always been a fan of starting your best guys, but there's something to be said for having a sparkplug come in and get things going if the team is off to a bad start. Nas doesn't really fit that stereotypical sparkplug role, but he can come in and give the team very good minutes.
Zanna's still obviously learning and only a redshirt freshman. He's shown some flashes ... and some lapses this year. But I think he'll will be just fine.