Big Ten Summer Check In: Penn State Nittany Lions

Posted by jnowak on July 24th, 2012

It certainly hasn’t been easy, but amid the messy scandal going on with the football program at Penn State, Patrick Chambers‘ team is moving forward on the hardwood this summer. After a disappointing Big Ten season — matched in unfulfillment only by newcomer Nebraska — Chambers is looking forward to the opportunity for the basketball program to carry the athletic department … “for once.” With the young roster Chambers is trying to mold this summer, he’s certainly got plenty to work with.

Tim Frazier, a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate? (CDC Photos/Christopher Weddle)

  • Evaluating Last Year: It would only be fair to grade last season on a curve, given what Chambers inherited in both personnel and prestige at Penn State. Under Ed DeChellis, the Nittany Lions were perennial bottom-feeders in a top-tier conference, and it was hard to imagine that Chambers would be able to work any miracles in his first year. He had no veteran leadership and it wasn’t until Tim Frazier broke out as one of the conference’s most surprising and productive players did Penn State even have a go-to scorer. They had just four Big Ten wins — against Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue — to finish dead-last along with the newcomer Cornhuskers. Without much to choose from, it’s no question that Frazier’s emergence was the top storyline to draw from this club last year. Read the rest of this entry »
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Making the Leap: Tim Frazier

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 14th, 2012

It is 1,244 miles from Houston, Texas, to Penn State University.  That is where Tim Frazier grew up.  He’s the only player from the city of Houston to be playing in the Big Ten conference, and only two other players (Nebraska senior Toney McCray and Northwestern freshman Trey Demps) are even from the state of Texas.  Tim Frazier has come a long way to be where he’s at, and his game has come even further.

It hasn’t been easy to notice the Nittany Lions this season, as their relation to first place in the Big Ten standings seems about as far away as Houston and University Park.  But it’s impossible to not notice the play of junior point guard Frazier, who has made an astronomical statistical jump from his sophomore season.  Last year, Frazier played in 34 games, averaging 30.0 MPG, 6.3 PPG,  and handing out 5.1 APG; good numbers considering his number one job was to facilitate offense for high-scoring guard Talor Battle.  With Battle gone this season, Frazier was expected to increase his scoring load and take leadership of the team, but not even the most die-hard Penn State fan could have imagined the lines that Frazier has been able to put up this season.

Tim Frazier has been phenomenal so far this season for Penn State (CDC Photos/Christopher Weddle)

Most points scored in the conference.  Second in scoring average.  First in assists.  Most minutes played.  Tops in steals.  Leading in free throw makes.  This is what Tim Frazier has been able to accomplish up to this point in 2011-12.  The 5’11” guard is also tied for 16th in rebounding at 5.0 RPG.  The term “do-everything player” not only describes Frazier’s statistical impact, but it also rings true because he is head and shoulders the most effective player on Pat Chambers’ squad.  The Nittany Lions are currently the worst-shooting team in the Big Ten conference at 38%, and they only average 61.0 PPG as a team.  Frazier’s 18.5 PPG means that on a nightly basis, he alone is scoring almost a third of PSU’s buckets.  To make the numbers even more astounding, please note that before this season, Frazier had scored over 20 points in a game exactly once in his career.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.13.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 13th, 2012

  1. Michigan State currently has control of the Big Ten after the Spartans’ hard-fought 58-48 win at Ohio State on Saturday. Michigan State used a combination of great defense, hustle plays, and just-effictive-enough offense to down the Buckeyes and end their 39-game home winning streak. So, has the question of how to beat Ohio State been answered? Give the Spartans tons of credit for their game plan, but William Buford and company didn’t do themselves any favors. Having Buford and Deshaun Thomas both go 2-12 from the field obviously hurt the Buckeyes.
  2. One key player Spartan head coach Tom Izzo knew he would need a great effort from was sophomore center Adriean Payne. The Dayton native was expected to supply critical defense on Jared Sullinger, and Payne and his defensive counterparts were effective forcing Sullinger into 10 turnovers. What the Spartans didn’t expect was for Payne to go 6-for-6 from the field and finish with a career-high 15 points. Given the chance to play in front of his family and friends in his home state, Payne made the most of his opportunity.
  3. One team preparing for their second shot at Ohio State will be Michigan, and the Wolverines will have plenty of time to do it. Coming off their 70-61 win over Illinois, John Beilein‘s club remains undefeated at home this season and will have six days to prepare for Ohio State. Beilein admits that getting that much rest at this point in the season can be beneficial as guys can rest their legs a bit. But Michigan doesn’t want to get out of the groove they are currently in especially junior guard Matt Vogrich, a 20% three-point shooter this season who has gone 5-for-5 from three in the last two games.
  4. While there was plenty of celebration for Penn State after their win over Nebraska this weekend, there was some sad news in Happy Valley as junior forward Billy Oliver announced he will end his playing career. Oliver is struggling with recuring symptoms related to his history of concussions and migraine headaches and after talking with coach Pat Chambers Oliver decided to hang it up. His roommate Tim Fraizer was saddened by his decision, but agreed that Oliver is doing what is best for him.
  5. March is only a couple of weeks away, and teams are gauging their NCAA Tournament chances with every win and loss. Minnesota is a team that many experts thought didn’t have much of a chance of qualifying for the Tournament a couple of months ago, but the Gophers have a chance to earn their way in with some quality wins. They will have plenty of chances to do that, with four of their last six opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. It will take some upsets, but Tubby Smith and his crew know the road that lays before them if they want to go dancing again this year.
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Checking In On… The Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 10th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, Russian nesting dolls and life.

Reader’s Take 


The Week That Was:

  • OT Madness in Madison: It was just one of the most unusual endings to a basketball game in recent memory. Ryan Evans banked home a turn-around desperation heave from the right wing as time expired, and many thought the Michigan StateWisconsin game in Madison was heading to a second overtime tied at 63. It was waved off, however, after officials discovered the there was a 0.2-second disparity between the game clock on the basket and the one on the scoreboard. By rule, the officials used the clock on the basket, which expired with the ball in Evans’ fingertips. (The must-see full video is after the jump). Ball game over as Wisconsin’s woes continued under truly bizarre circumstances.
  • Bertrand to the Rescue: A subtle, underrated move by Illini coach Bruce Weber has Illinois at 3-1 and currently tied for second in the conference. Looking to shake up his lackluster team, Weber gave little-used sophomore wing Joseph Bertrand more minutes against Missouri. Bertrand responded by going 9-9 from the field for 19 points. In the last five games, Bertrand has averaged 15 points and 3.2 rebounds in 29.2 minutes, and has even started the past two. He poured in a career-high 25 points on 11-12 shooting to help the Illini survive Nebraska at home.
  • Road Warriors: First, Iowa took down Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. As a follow-up act, the Hawkeyes went up to The Barn this week and knocked off Minnesota. That’s no small feat for team who was blown out by Campbell earlier this season and whose leading scorer in conference play is 28th in scoring (Matt Gatens at 10.5 PPG). It’s doubtful Fran McCaffrey’s bunch will finish conference play with even a .500 record, but they have proven they can make shots and win on the road.

Who Will Stop Draymond Green And Michigan State? (Al Goldis/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (15-2, 3-1) – When you consider that Ohio State plays in the nation’s top-ranked conference (according to the RPI), it’s pretty insane that the Buckeyes have won three of their Big Ten games by an average of 31 points. They aren’t just beating lesser opponents; they are destroying them. It’s a clear indication of why the Buckeyes are considered by many the class of the conference and one of the favorites to win it all in New Orleans. Another reason is that OSU is ranked in the top 3 in 16 of the Big 10’s 21 statistical categories. Read the rest of this entry »
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