Penn State Basketball: With Frazier Out, New Leaders Ready to Emerge for Nittany Lions
As the Penn State basketball program looks to refocus following the loss of returning All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier to injury, head coach Patrick Chambers isn't looking for sympathy, he's just looking for leaders.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," Chambers said bluntly Tuesday afternoon. "We have to go out and compete and go out and play Penn State basketball. We've got a top 25-caliber team coming to town Friday. This is a great opportunity for guys to step up. Know your role, trust your teammates, play hard. I think they understand what they need to do and they came ready to work."
Even so, the loss of Frazier takes away one of the most prolific statistical players in Penn State history. Frazier's distribution of the ball coupled with his scoring ability and defensive skill is what has made him one of the top guards in the country.
Replacing him with any single player on the roster is impossible, but a solid team effort might do the trick, the kind of effort Chambers saw for most of the first half against Akron following Frazier's injury.
"I felt like those first 20 minutes against Akron, that was finally the team I was expecting to show up," Chambers said. Penn State scored 36 first-half points and showed balanced scoring over that span. "Break down those last 14 minutes, we played with energy, with great intensity, we shared the ball, we defended, we rebounded. We have to bottle those 14 minutes up."
Without question, sophomore transfer guard DJ Newbill will try and fill the role Frazier had on the court. He did so with a fair amount of success following Frazier's immediate departure from the Akron game, scoring 20 points, collecting six rebounds and handing out five assists.
Newbill stuck with his coach's message Tuesday, looking forward to what is essentially the entire season.
"We gotta move forward, we feel for Tim, but the season has to go on," Newbill said. "Our roles change dramatically, everybody's roles change. Even the bench guys, even the coaches. We all have to step up, Tim was a big part of the team and we have to step up and fill that spot."
Newbill will shift over to the point position to handle Frazier's roles, and while Frazier won't be on the court, Newbill intends on getting all the information he can from him.
"I think I'm adjusting to it fine, we can't play as fast as we did with Tim but we can still push the ball and move the ball and get good shots. We've been talking ever since he went down and he's gonna pass on his knowledge to me. We've got a long season ahead of us and a great group of guys who are willing to work hard. It's unfortunate, but we can't sulk on it, we've got to move forward."