A big question coming into the year was the Panthers' depth and talent in the middle with the abrupt leaving of Steven Adams. Talib Zanna has helped answer that question with solid and consistent play every step of the way in the early going for Pitt. The senior from Nigeria has been there night in and night out (with the exception of the opener) and for that reason, he is our Panther of the Week.
During the past week, Pitt took care of a surprisingly solid Penn State team, 78-69, pulling away late. Zanna put up a great stat line with 16 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, four blocks, and a VERY key steal. On top of his great game, the man in the middle played aggressive, but smart, accumulating only two fouls and one turnover for the game. Playing intense as a big man in college basketball is going to get you mixed up in fouls and turnovers, so that portion of Zanna's game this past Tuesday night is probably what sticks out the most.
The 6'9 center didn't exactly take off on Friday night either, posting up 12 points to go along with five boards, and one block in only 27 minutes during Pitt's easy 85-68 win over Loyola Marymount. Once again though, my attention zeroed in on Zanna's fouls and turnovers and again, he showed discipline with zero turnovers and only one foul.
You can point to the competition all you want, but Zanna has done what he has needed to do and then some. He's playing smart and solid basketball and if he continues to do this, Pitt could be a very tough team to beat when they begin ACC play.