Column: Penn State After Four Games
THIS TEAM GOES AS TIM FRAZIER GOES
The much anticipated return of Tim Frazier has been mostly positive. The senior point guard is averaging 20.5 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds, and hasn’t shown any negative effects from last year’s season ending Achilles injury. He has been the leading scorer in two of the four games, including a double-double in the opener against Wagner.
The only thing that worries me so far is the second half that Frazier had against Bucknell, the Nittany Lions only loss this year. No doubt about it that Bucknell was the hot-shooting team that night and was better than Penn State, but Frazier had three costly turnovers late that doomed the Nittany Lions. Until Pitt transfer John Johnson is eligible, Frazier has to be the guy late in games to be able to create for Penn State.
D.J. NEWBILL LOOKS MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE THIS YEAR
Newbill had to overtake the point guard role when Frazier went down. This year, the junior looks much more relaxed, being able to play off the ball and spot up for open shots on the perimeter. Newbill’s points, free throw percentage and three point shooting percentage have all increased from last year.
The penetrating abilities by Frazier are going to give Newbill a plethora of opportunities to fire from beyond the arc. The lack of a true post presence allows Newbill to dribble drive to the basket and not worry about going into all the bodies down low that he’s use to seeing.
THERE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ONE THIRD SCORER
We’ve seen double-digit point efforts from junior forward Ross Travis, sophomore forward Brandon Taylor and sophomore forward Donovan Jack, already this year. As long as one of them can make a defense honest every night, that takes a tremendous amount of pressure off Frazier and Newbill. Jack showed his perimeter shooting abilities against La Salle on Tuesday, and may be a better place to have him set up in the offense.
Taylor has been given the green light from three, but I would love to see him and Jack switch places. Taylor is a matchup nightmare at 6’7’’, 235 pounds, he can hit the 10-foot jumper as well as display multiple effective post moves. Travis is a guy that catches fire running the floor in transition and will be a running mate all year long in the frontcourt with Taylor and Jack.
NO POST PRESENCE
The lack of size can be sufficient enough during non-conference, but when the frontlines of Michigan and Ohio State start showing up is when Penn State may run into a problem. Offensively, Jack is a liability down in the block because he shows one post move and usually a weak effort of a shot. His shooting abilities as mentioned against La Salle may be a preview as to what the offense should look like as the season moves forward.
All senior forward Alan Wisniewski has shown to be able to do is grab defensive rebounds and be effective at clogging up space. Freshman forward Julian Moore saw 15 minutes of action at Penn last weekend and will battle with Wisniewski as Jack’s primary replacement.
NEWCOMERS STILL FINDING ROLES
Graduate senior Allen Roberts caught a lot of eyes in the exhibition opener with his outside shooting abilities, and is a formidable option off the bench. If Penn State ever wants a small lineup with three guards, Roberts is more than capable to be the third option.
The freshmen have shown signs of being able to chip in spurts. Freshman guard Graham Woodward didn’t see any playing time against La Salle and was exposed a little defensively against attack first guards against Bucknell.
Guard Geno Thorpe has stayed in the rotation for now. Expect Thorpe to play sparingly this season, but if he can contribute 8-12 solid minutes every game, that’s all that will be needed with all the depth at the guard position.
Ryan Stevens is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.