Tim Frazier’s Return Makes Penn State Backcourt Best in the Big TenPosted by Jonathan Batuello on October 25th, 2013
Penn State isn’t known for being at the top of the B1G in anything basketball-related. But this season, even in a conference loaded with quality guards, the Nittany Lions will boast one of the top backcourt duos in the conference thanks to the return of Tim Frazier. Despite bringing in a decent recruiting class, head coach Pat Chambers has to be most excited to see the fifth-year senior returning from a ruptured Achilles injury that ended his season just four games into last season. At the time, Frazier was averaging 21.7 points and 5.0 assists per game as the Nittany Lions’ leading scorer and overall best player. Now, after being granted a final year of eligibility in Happy Valley, he is back and listed on the Bob Cousy Award preseason watch list despite not playing almost all of last season.
Losing Frazier was a big blow to Penn State’s hopes last season. He had earned first-team All-B1G honors as a junior after averaging 18.8 points per game, second best in the league, as well as the conference leader in assists (5.6 per game) and steals (2.4 per game). His season and play had been so strong that CBS named him No. 54 in their annual top 100 players list. His explosiveness and ability to pull up for a jumper and connect, made him a lethal offensive combination. Early reports from practice have Frazier looking back to form, and his abilities will help push Penn State out of the cellar.
Of course, Frazier alone won’t make the Penn State backcourt one of the best in the conference. Going down to injury early last year allowed the Nittany Lions to develop D.J. Newbill. His added minutes made him a much more seasoned player than he would have been if Frazier had been there all season lighting it up. Now, though, Penn State actually has the top two returning scorers in the conference if you use Frazier’s 2011-12 stats as Newbill averaged 16.3 points per game on his own last season.
The biggest question facing Penn State may be how to effectively use both Newbill and Frazier together and allow them as individuals to do what they do best. Both guards have great speed in driving to the basket, and Frazier can pull up and hit a jump shot when needed, but Newbill’s outside shooting isn’t his strong point (26.7 percent from 3-point range last season). Both will be asked to distribute the basketball too, but with Penn State lacking a solid inside presence and any other known outside threats, the Nittany Lions will want the ball in the duo’s hands as often as possible. When you have Frazier’s natural scoring ability and Newbill’s growth from last season, that isn’t necessarily the worst problem to have if you’re standing in Chambers’ shoes. The hope is their talents can mitigate the rest of Penn State’s weaknesses while simultaneously raising the Nittany Lions up the B1G standings.