Pitt big man Zanna is taking big steps forward
Pitt has produced six Big East most improved players since 1999-2000, and if redshirt junior forward Talib Zanna continues to play as he did during the nonconference schedule, he may be the Panthers' next and final candidate for the conference award.
Through 13 games this season, Zanna leads the Panthers in scoring (13.2 ppg), rebounding (6.3 rpg) and field-goal percentage (62.3) with an average of 23.3 minutes per game.
Last season, the 6-foot-9 Zanna averaged 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and shot 57.1 percent from the floor in 19.3 minutes per game.
He has scored a career-high 20 points in three different games this season and has finished in double figures in scoring in all but four games for No. 24 Pitt (12-1), which opens Big East play against No. 8 Cincinnati (12-0) on Monday.
Zanna has started every game this season and played a career-high 32 minutes against Delaware State on Dec. 19 with center Dante Taylor sidelined with a bruised heel.
“I think he just understands more,” coach Jamie Dixon said of Zanna. “That's so general, but I think he's gotten better each year so the process continues. I think the biggest thing is just simplifying his game. He seems to be finishing, keeping the ball up, taking the first open shot. He had a tendency to have the open shot and dribble into a tougher position, so I think that's probably the biggest step.”
Zanna credits experience and off-season work for his improvement but also noted the role his teammates, in particular point guards Tray Woodall and James Robinson, have played in his increased scoring.
“They're pass-first point guards, so when you're wide open, they're going to pass it to you,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time, and they pass me the ball, and that's how I keep finishing.”
Zanna played in all 39 games in 2011-12 with 14 starts and also gained experience as a center. He finished the season well, averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in six CBI games, and was named the team's best defender at the season-ending awards banquet.
“He's always been in great shape and always ran hard,” Dixon said. “He's probably a little stronger (this year). His running gets us baskets by other guys getting guarded and him getting other guys open by being guarded. I think those are things he's doing really well. But he's always done that. He finished strong last year, too, so I think it's a continuation of what he did last year.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Pitt’s acting athletic director is deft facilitator
- Position move fits Pitt sophomore Artis
- Assistant at Duke eyes Pitt football job
- Analysis: Misunderstood Chryst served Pitt well
- Time is of essence for Pitt in finding football coach, athletic director
- Pitt coach Chryst expected to take Wisconsin job
- Rossi: It’s OK if Pitt coaches don’t stay
- Pitt offensive coordinator Rudolph still focused on Panthers
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin