Editor's Note: Lions247, with the help of head coach Patrick Chambers, breaks down all of the Nittany Lions in a four-part series. Part I focused on Penn State's true freshmen, Part II on the team's bench and Part III on the starting forwards. The series concludes today with a look at the starting backcourt.
Patrick Chambers will need another big season from senior guard Tim Frazier.
Rewind: Frazier came to Penn State as a part of the 2009 recruiting class along with current Nittany Lions Sasa Borovnjak and Jermaine Marshall, starting 10 games as a freshman on a team that went 11-20. The following year, Frazier started all but one game during a run to the NCAA tournament, growing game by game as the season progressed. Averaging five assists a game, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard facilitated a senior-laden squad, running the point while all-time leading scorer Talor Battle was filling it up.
The Take: Everything starts with Frazier, and it isn’t just because he’s the point guard. With three years of experience - including the scrappy road to the NCAA tournament two seasons ago - the senior captain’s leadership is as important to this team as his talent on the court. Frazier is one of the fastest players in the Big Ten, pushing the ball up the court on the break in a blur. The Houston native has played many different roles in his career at Penn State, from coming off the bench as a freshman, to deferring as a sophomore and finally being ‘the guy’ as a junior.
The Forecast: As a senior, Frazier will have a more complete cast surrounding him, mainly thanks to the transfer of D.J. Newbill from Southern Miss. After sitting out last season, the 6-foot-4 combo guard from Philly will take some of the scoring pressure off Frazier. Opposing defenses won’t be able to key multiple defenders on the senior as was the case last season, mainly because of Newbill’s scoring threat. Couple that with a seasoned Jermaine Marshall - last season’s second leading scorer behind Frazier - and the backcourt starts to emerge as the focal point of the team.
Chambers’ Words: “I think Tim has to continue with his leadership and play every single day - the consistency and leadership - I think that's what will help this team and pay huge dividends.
“He's worked on his jump shot and has t down more consistently, but he also can't go away from what made him a first-team All-Big Ten player. He's still got a lot of room for growth, he hasn't arrived just yet.”
Rewind: Coming out of Strawberry Manison High School in Philadelphia, Newbill was originally part of a four-man class at Marquette, a university he called his ‘dream school.’ Unfortunately for him, head coach Buzz Williams released Newbill from his scholarship to make room for highly touted transfer Jamil Wilson. The Philly native rebounded and wound up at Southern Miss, starting every game for the Golden Eagles as a freshman, averaging 30.5 minutes, 9.2 points and 6.2 boards per game on over 53 percent from the field. Newbill transferred to Penn State following his freshman year - after Patrick Chambers was hired - and had to sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA rules.
The Take: The redshirt sophomore spent last season pushing the starters in practice, consistently receiving praise from the head coach about his efforts. Chambers eventually paired Newbill and Tim Frazier up towards the end of the season and was blown away with what he saw. Following the 2011-12 season, the second-year head coach proclaimed he is going to have the best backcourt in the country, and has stood by the statement throughout the off-season.
The Forecast: Newbill is built like a tank - standing at 6-foot-4, weighing in at a solid 210-pounds - and opposing defenders won’t want to take charges when he’s coming down the lane. Spending the entire season as the focal point of the Nittany Lion offense, Frazier will finally have some relief at the guard position. Newbill has the handle to bring the ball up, but will do most of his damage slashing towards the basket. No longer will opposing defenses be able to key on Frazier, or Newbill will make them pay. Newbill has already been named a captain alongside Frazier and the duo have taken control of off-season workouts and are providing the leadership needed for this developing team.
Chambers’ Words: “He's going to bring a toughness to this team that we sorely need, especially on the road. He's got a chip on his shoulder, got that passion and aggressiveness. He is going to bring that fight every day, but he's also extremely talented.
“Five guys can't guard Tim Frazier, so opposing teams are going to have a problem now. They have to guard Tim but now they've got to stop DJ Newbill, who can get downhill with the best of them, and he's really quick, athletic, has a good mod-range game.”
Rewind:The Etters (Pa.) native came to Penn State on the shelf in the class of 2009, having suffered a torn patella tendon that forced him to miss his entire senior season in high school, and continued the rehab during a redshirt year in 2009-10. As a redshirt freshman, Marshall saw action in 28 games during the NCAA tournament season, averaging nine minutes a contest and just over two points per game. Coming into last season, the redshirt sophomore found himself in newly appointed head coach Pat Chambers’ doghouse, as he served an indefinite suspension for violation of team rules to start the year.
The Take: Marshall worked his way back on the court quickly - he played in the second game and ended up starting the team’s ninth contest - and finished the season as the team’s second leading scorer. Averaging 10.8 points and over four rebounds a game, Marshall had his inconsistencies - he shot 38 percent on the season - and was prone to turning the ball over on offense, mostly due to charges.
The Forecast: With D.J. Newbill starting the season at the two-guard, Marshall will be freed up to play off the ball and become more dangerous on offense. The 6-foot-4 wing has worked all summer on extending his shot to become more of a threat from deep, stretching the defense and opening up holes for his teammates. Marshall will look to improve on his percentages from last season and cement a starting role on the wing.
Chambers’ Words: “With Tim and DJ the way they're playing they can get to the basket at any time, I mean Jermaine is really going to reap the benefits of defenses trying to stop those two. He's got to be ready to shoot. We saw some glimpses last year. He came on strong at the end of the year.
“He said one day ‘Coach I’m shooting too much at practice,’ but I said, ‘You’re not, you’re taking good uncontested shots.’ That’s what we need Jermaine to do this year, knock down those open shots he’s going to get.”