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Penn State Basketball: Ross Travis Finding Game at Right Time

by on December 14, 2012 6:00 AM

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers took his team on a tour of the historic Palestra in Philadelphia, a venue that has seen some of the greats of Philadelphia basketball and the NBA walk its echoing corridors.

Maybe it was the tour, or maybe it was just meant to be. But despite the 3-point barrage that saw La Salle win, 82-57, a light went on for sophomore forward Ross Travis.

Pulling down nine rebounds and scoring 12 points, Travis began to capitalize on his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame, driving to the basket and pulling up inside of the arc. Travis repeated the performance in the Nittany Lions' next game against Army, collecting 10 rebounds and scoring a season-high 15 points. Exactly 50 percent shooting from the field over the two games after struggling to find the bottom of the basket earlier in the season was a welcome sight for coaches and fans alike.

"He's playing great in the first half," Chambers said. "Two really good first halves. Took some good shots. He plays hard. His next step is 40 minutes. And having a willingness to learn, and continue to learn. Be taught the game and understanding the game. He's posting a double-double, that's great production.

"He's so versatile; he can play in the guard spot, he can play the small forward where he is a nightmare matchup, which is good for us. He has to continue to shoot. He has to start making those free throws, and he has to start making shots in the second half. We are going to need that. He wants to be a big-time player. Big-time players want to be challenged, and they want to play. He doesn't care what position he is in, he just wants to be on the floor."

As Chambers alluded to, Travis' development is not yet complete, much like former Nittany Lion Jeff Brooks, who mirrors the same style of play and athleticism of Travis. Brooks spent much of his underclassman years at Penn State finding his role in the college game. As the 2009 NIT championship run took place, Brooks began to elevate his play and became a crucial cog in Penn State's 2011 NCAA Tournament team despite a nagging shoulder injury late in the season.

Anointed by Chambers as one of the team's most important players, Travis attributes his recent success to just letting the game come to him.

"I'm just shooting the ball without thinking about it," Travis said. "And shooting the ball with confidence. I think that is playing a huge role."

For players like DJ Newbill who have been forced to carry the load in the absence of injured All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier, it's welcome news to be able to share the scoring burden.

"That's one thing that we try to do is share the ball," Newbill said. "Play with confidence. If a guy has an open shot, just stick it. That's what Coach tells us to do, and I think that's what we're doing."



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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