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Pitt needs improved play from Michael Young

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Young remains Pitt's best player, but if the Panthers are going to make any noise in the NCAA Tournament (or perhaps, even make the Big Dance), they will need to get more out of him in their final few games.

Young hasn't played terribly - that much is clear. He had 19 points in Pitt's narrow win against Wake Forest, 13 rebounds against Syracuse over the weekend, and had 15 points against North Carolina. But the Pitt forward is also making some mistakes and needs to clean things up a bit.

Young had a solid game against Louisville on Wednesday with ten points and seven rebounds, but also missed four free throws and had three turnovers. The story was similar against the Orange over the weekend. Despite the 13 boards, he had a modest eight points, had four turnovers, and missed both of his free throw attempts.

In the past five games, Young has averaged 3.4 turnovers (including a whopping six against the Tar Heels) while shooting only 55% from the free throw line. Not exactly numbers you want from your best player. Young is also less efficient as a scorer than he was the rest of the year.

And while he is scoring, he's not been nearly as effective there, either. In the past ten games, he is shooting a reasonable 47% from the field. However, that's a far cry from what he was doing before that stretch when he was connecting on approximately 55% of his shots. His total production is down, too, as Young is averaging only 11.9 points per game - significantly below the 17.2 he was averaging before that stretch. The competition has gotten much stiffer so a drop in production is almost to be expected. However, Young is scoring more than five points less per game than he was despite playing many more minutes. In those ten games, he averaged 33 minutes per contest. Up to that point, Young was playing only 27 per contest.

Again, this isn't to suggest that Young isn't having a very good season. He is and has carried Pitt more times than I care to count this year. The fact is that without him, this is almost certainly not a tournament team. But if the Panthers want to do much of anything the rest of the way, they need him to be a little more effective.

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