Three keys for 2012-13 Penn State men's basketball
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1 D.J. Newbill must fit in quickly
Tim Frazier is going to score a lot of points. He is going to take a lot of shots. Problem is, everybody knows it. Frazier will be the focus of every team's defense, and Penn State has few proven entities to draw attention away from him. Newbill, who went to Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School, is the best bet. A transfer from Southern Mississippi, Newbill averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman. If he plays to his ability, he should complement Frazier's skill set. Newbill is more of a driver than a shooter. He gets to the free-throw line and rebounds well for a guard, having led Southern Miss in rebounding in 11 games in his lone season there. A productive Newbill likely means an even better Frazier, perhaps a player that can go from All Big-Ten to second or third team All-American.
2 Own the Bryce Jordan Center
If Penn State plays well at home, it could be the surprise team of the Big Ten and could take a shot at making the NCAA tournament. Obviously, that is a huge "if." The Nittany Lions have a favorable home schedule, starting with non-conference games when they play seven of eight games at the Bryce Jordan Center from Nov. 23 to Jan. 3. In conference play, Penn State plays Michigan State and Ohio State once each, with both games at home. Win those, and the Nittany Lions have an opportunity to far exceed expectations (they were picked to finish 11th in the conference in a preseason media poll). Doing so will be a challenge. Penn State hasn't "owned" its home court in some time. Last year, the Nittany Lions were 10-7 at home.
3 Play fast
We all know by now that coach Patrick Chambers brings energy to this team. He's a guy who hangs around campus just to talk with students and bought a season ticket package for one lucky student. He loves the game, loves to socialize. Like his personality, his teams are supposed to play fast, but Penn State didn't quite live up to his promise last year. The Nittany Lions averaged 61.8 points per game, giving up 65.8. Aside from a tendency to jack up 3-point shots, they weren't truly up-tempo. They'd be better off trying to throw off some of the more conservative teams by running as often as they can, winning or losing with high-scoring games. They have the personnel to do it -- actually, their personnel might require it. Penn State likely will start three guards and does not have any significant players taller than 6 feet 9. Playing up-tempo gives this team its best shot to win. It is a style played by few Big Ten teams and up-tempo games would cater to fans.
First Published November 7, 2012 12:00 am