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2012-13 Preview: #11 Penn State Nittany Lions

Pat Chambers is back for his second year at the helm and returns the biggest piece of last year’s team in senior point guard Tim Frazier. While Frazier could put together a spectacular season, the key for Penn State is getting good experience for their younger kids.

Last year the Nits struggled on both sides of the ball and they will again this season, but there are areas where they should be able to show at least modest improvement.

Penn State is capable of pulling off a couple impressive victories, but they’ll be near the bottom of the Big Ten again in 2012-13.

Glass Half Full

Solid Core

If Tim Frazier can shoot the ball a bit better, his already high value to the team will increase substantially. Speaking about Frazier at Big Ten Media Day, coach Chambers said, “I think we all know he needs to work on his jump shot and he’s done that. In practice so far he’s shooting his three’s at a high clip, which is great for us, almost makes him un-guardable…”

Even though Frazier only shot an effective field goal percentage of 44.6% (44.0 2FG%; 31.4 3FG%) in 2011-12, he posted an offensive rating of approximately 104 which is quite impressive considering his usage in nearly a third of Penn State’s possessions.

The 6’1” guard was one of the nation’s top assist men and regularly got himself to the free throw line. However, Frazier was the team’s only assist man and created most of his own shots. A little more team creativity on offense should produce higher percentage scoring opportunities for him.

On defense last year he was a big time thief (4.0 steal %) and with the ball cut down his own turnovers significantly after struggling in his first two seasons.

D.J. Newbill sat out last year after transferring from Southern Mississippi and has three years of eligibility remaining. He’s a big, physical but skilled guard that can do it all and will make his presence felt.  One area Penn State needs to improve on is getting guys other than Tim Frazier to the line and Newbill will certainly help in that regard. He’s an impact newcomer to the conference this year.

Ross Travis is a sophomore forward from Minnesota (Chaska HS) who showed some of his rebounding ability as a freshman, but has a lot more to offer including the ability to score and play multiple positions. Travis, who has one cousin at Harvard (sophomore Jonah Travis) and another in the strong 2014 Minnesota high school class (Jonah’s brother Reid) only averaged 17.9 minutes and 4.4 points per game as a freshman, but don’t sleep – he’s a player.

3-Point Shooting

If for no other reason than regression to the mean, the gap in 3-point shooting between Penn State and their opponents will probably decline in 2012-13. Penn State’s 3FG% figures on offense and defense were awful:

Overall Conf Only
Penn State 31.1% 29.8%
Opponents 38.2% 40.5%

Free Throw Rate

Similar to 3-point shooting, the disparity was so great a year ago that it would be tough be much worse.  The Nittany Lions attempted 296 free throws in conference play last year while their opponents earned 417 trips to the line or 41% more than Penn State.

Glass Half Empty

Reality

There are players to like on this team including those discussed above and redshirt junior guard Jermaine Marshall who averaged 27.1 minutes and 10.8 points per game, but the team’s talent just doesn’t match up with most of the Big Ten.

 Other Comments

  • In addition to losing Cammeron Woodyard (25.8 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) to graduation, several other players are gone including transfers Matt Glover (23.5 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Trey Lewis (18.7 mpg, 5.6 ppg). Late last season, then-junior Billy Oliver (24.0 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg) ended his career early due to recurring concussion symptoms.
  • 2013 Recruiting: Philly stud Brandon Austin de-committed this summer, but Chambers has four pledged to next year’s recruiting class including combo guard Geno Thorpe, wing Payton Banks, local big man Julian Moore and Edina HS (Minn.) point guard Graham Woodward.
  • Area basketball fans can’t complain about ticket prices: lower bowl season tickets between the baselines cost just $200 with the remaining seating options priced at $180.  Season ticket holder benefits include a season parking pass good for all Bryce Jordan Center lots.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“There is no hope of the Nits returning to the tourney this year.”

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Edina’s Graham Woodward to Big Ten

Graham Woodward
Woodward scores a bucket at the adidas Super 64 (photo credit: adidas)

Minnesota Pump N Run and Edina (MN) high school point guard Graham Woodward has committed to Penn State. The 2013 floor general would have attracted more early attention from high majors if he were taller, but eventually many schools decided they couldn’t help but take interest in the under-six-foot guard after a strong summer.

LateNightHoops was in Las Vegas in July and witnessed an impressive run to the final four of the adidas Super 64 by Woodward’s Minnesota Pump N Run 17U squad. 2014 F Reid Travis is the more well known name on that team (and rightfully so), but in several games during the tournament it was clearly Woodward who led the way.

Woodward is a true point guard who combines a solid all around game and a strong court IQ with a incredible effort and grit. Capable passer and scorer, his game continues to develop.  He’s small, but has skills and smarts.  There is no doubt that the effort will be there.

Penn State will graduate do-it-all point guard Tim Frazier after the 2012-13 season, but the Nittany Lions expects to sign both Woodward and combo guard Geno Thorpe next month during the early signing period.

PSU sophomore forward Ross Travis, who was recently included in an article about Minnesota players ready to make a mark in D1 basketball this year, played against Woodward in high school.  During the 2010-11 season, Travis and his Chaska team beat Edina twice, including a 82-51 victory to end Edina’s season in the sectional playoffs.  Travis scored 28 in that contest and 25 in the teams’ previous match up.

Graham Woodward highlights from HardwoodElite.com:

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