Penn State Basketball

Penn State men’s basketball notes: Nittany Lions’ coach Chambers watching more NBA these days

Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers has more reason to watch the NBA now. He and the Nittany Lions are keeping an eye on former standout Tim Frazier, who is playing with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers has more reason to watch the NBA now. He and the Nittany Lions are keeping an eye on former standout Tim Frazier, who is playing with the Philadelphia 76ers. CDT file photo

Tim Frazier has given Penn State coach Patrick Chambers a reason to watch more basketball in the last four days.

The former Nittany Lion standout signed a 10-day contract with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday and made his NBA debut in Boston on Friday. Chambers was busy preparing for their game the night before his team’s contest against Nebraska, but he couldn’t turn the television off.

The coach likened himself to a father watching his son as Frazier finished with 11 assists in Philadelphia’s 107-96 loss to the Celtics.

Chambers was planning to tune in for another 76ers’ game Monday night before continuing preparation for a Big Ten matchup at No. 23 Ohio State (18-6, 7-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“I don’t watch the NBA,” Chambers said. “But now I do because Tim’s playing.”

Frazier earned his second straight start Monday against the Golden State Warriors in place of the injured Michael Carter-Williams. In three games, Frazier had 15 points on 6 of 27 shooting. He grabbed 14 rebounds, had three steals and dished out 26 assists.

Frazier went undrafted and played for Philadelphia’s NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas. He signed a training camp contract with Boston in August and was assigned to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, in October.

Frazier averaged 15.9 points, 8.9 assists and 6.8 rebounds and recorded two triple-doubles in 27 games for the Red Claws.

He’s been productive during his run with Philadelphia.

“I think the NBA game, it’s perfect for Tim’s style,” Chambers said. “He’s got the freakish speed, the freakish athleticism and he can get the ball rim to rim faster than anybody, and when you’ve got shooters filling lanes the way they do, it’s a great way to play with a kid like Tim Frazier.”

He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2012. He then suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the fourth game of the 2012-13 season and returned to finish his career last season. Frazier earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2014 and left Penn State as the program’s all-time assists leader.

“I couldn’t be happier for somebody like Tim Frazier,” Chambers said, “to take the route he’s taken and go through all the adversity and challenges that he has and to be able to see his dream not totally fulfilled, but at least the door’s open and he’s putting on that jersey that says NBA.”

Taylor working back

to 100 percent

Chambers said forward Brandon Taylor is “probably 75, 80 percent” mentally and physically coming off his right-knee injury.

“I’ve gotten my knee opened up a million times, it takes you a little while to really trust it,” Chambers said. “I thought he had a great first half (against Nebraska), but I think you see his conditioning a little bit in the second half and just the mental side of the game in the second half.”

Taylor has played in two straight games after missing two games due to the injury suffered against Rutgers on Jan. 24. He was limited to 16 minutes and 21 minutes in those games after averaging 29.2 minutes in the team’s first 19 games.

Taylor played 14 minutes and scored eight of his 11 points in the first half against Nebraska on Saturday.

Russell leading

Ohio State

Ohio State freshman D’Angelo Russell added his first career triple-double to his impressive resume Sunday.

Russell finished with 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes to a 79-60 win over Rutgers.

“It just shows you the type of player he is, the caliber of player he is and I know he’s only a freshman but that’s a leader,” Chambers said. “That’s a leader who’s keeping Ohio State in the Top 25 and top-four in the Big Ten.”

Russell has emerged as one of the Big Ten’s star players heading into the matchup against Penn State (15-9, 3-8) on Wednesday. The 6-foot-5 guard leads the Big Ten in scoring with 21.7 points per game, assists with 5.5 per game and 3-pointers made with 34 in league games. Penn State’s D.J. Newbill is averaging 20.9 points for the season and 20.3 in conference play.

Russell was named the Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week on Monday. It was his second Player of the Week Honor and sixth Freshman of the Week award.

He ranks in the top 10 in rebounding (7.3), free throw percentage (82.0), steals (1.6), 3-point field goal percentage (42.5), assist-turnover ratio (2.3) and minutes played (36.3) in conference action.

The Ohio State guard is averaging 19.5 points, 5.4 assists and 5.9 rebounds for the season.

“He makes them go,” Chambers said. “He makes everybody around him better.”

Big Ten defined by parity

Penn State has fallen by single digits in seven of its eight Big Ten losses.

“All these games become possession games and we got to take care of every possession,” Penn State guard Shep Garner said. “We got to win every possession because if you lose a possession, that could lose the game for you.”

The conference has just one dominant team in No. 5 Wisconsin (21-2, 9-1). The Badgers are outscoring Big Ten opponents by 13.4 points.

No. 19 Maryland and No. 23 Ohio State are the only other ranked teams, but they sit in a four-way tie for second place with Indiana and Purdue at 7-4. The Terrapins have been outscored by an average of 1.1 points.

Iowa and Michigan State are each 6-4 followed by Illinois (6-5), Michigan (6-6), Nebraska (5-6), Minnesota (4-7) and Penn State (3-8).

Rutgers (2-10) and Northwestern (1-9) sit at the bottom of the league standings.

“There is a lot of parity, I guess you could say, but we’re right there,” Chambers said. “We are right there.”