Allen Roberts was introduced by Tim Frazier after Penn State’s easy 84-52 victory over Monmouth on Tuesday night because he was making his first appearance in the Penn State postgame pressroom.
Roberts already had made sure everyone knew who he was.
The fifth-year senior transfer from Miami (Ohio) scored 17 points, just two below Frazier’s 19 that led the Nittany Lions. He was 4 for 6 from the field and 3 for 5 from 3-point range. Throw in a perfect 6 for 6 from the foul line, and of the 17 balls that Roberts launched toward the basket, 13 fell through.
Penn State (5-1) won its fourth straight game because of yet another balanced scoring attack as D.J. Newbill added 15 points and Ross Travis 11.
And Roberts was right where he wanted to be — deeply involved.
“I’m very comfortable playing with these guys now,” Roberts said. “I’ve been playing with Tim and D.J. and Ross and all these guys since June.
“I can tell and I can read when Tim is about to drive and pass, when he’s about to do the no-look pass. I know to follow him when he’s about to drive to the rim. I can remember those things after doing it so many times that it’s becoming more familiar and it’s repetition and it’s locked in my head.
“I have to get open because they are going to find me,” Roberts said. “They’re great teammates and they’re always working hard to get an assist. I’m just trying to work hard with them.
“I would rather be on this team than be a leading scorer anywhere else.”
Coach Patrick Chambers likes the sound of that.
“He’s getting there,” Chambers said about Roberts.
“You have a guy who’s been somewhere else for four years with different styles, different philosophies. We’ve been stressing here in this non-conference (schedule) about becoming a Penn State basketball player.
“We have to speed up the process with him. He took one very large step tonight in doing that.”
Frazier appreciated that as well.
“For Allen to step up and shoot the ball as well as he did today, and do other things as well, it was great,” said Frazier, who also had seven rebounds and seven assists. Frazier became the fourth Penn State basketball player with more than 1,000 career points and 500 career assists.
“With our team, one guy might not be having a good game, but the next four guys on the court are going to pick them up,” he added.
Any pick-up necessary to topple Monmouth came late in the first half when the Hawks pulled to within five points, but Roberts knocked down a 3-pointer and Travis drained a six-footer to build a 40-30 halftime bulge.
That margin quickly grew in the second half when the Nittany Lions applied a three-quarter court press and forced enough Monmouth turnovers to go on a 20-4 run and build an insurmountable 60-36 lead.
The Hawks’ 16 turnovers led to 24 Penn State points as Monmouth simply ran out of gas.
Hawks’ coach King Rice took the blame for scheduling three games in nine days against St. John’s, Seton Hall and Penn State.
“In the first half I thought we played pretty well,” Rice said. “I think what happened, and it’s totally my fault, they were on their third game on the road in a high major building.
“Tonight, after the 20-minute mark we just didn’t have enough. They’re stronger and they’re bigger and the three games in a row wore my kids down. That’s on me because I should not put them against three high majors in a row.”
The Hawks have no seniors on their roster. Frazier and Roberts are the only regulars who are seniors on Penn State’s squad, which means Nittany Lion depth is finally improving.
“I’m still getting used to it,” Chambers said about being able to play 12 men and having 10 of them score. “For two years I played six guys.”
Penn State had averaged nearly 82 points per game through its first five games. One of those games was a 90-80 home defeat to Bucknell which prompted a few changes.
“We made our adjustments after Bucknell, no question,” Chambers said. “I think our defense is a lot better, we’re rebounding the ball a lot better.
“We’re not fouling as much. Tim and DJ understand they can’t do it by themselves. We have some depth, we have some skill, we have some players. We just have to continue.”
Penn State continues Friday with a game against St. John’s in the Barclay’s Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y. Georgia Tech and Mississippi will play the other semifinal.