CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – If Penn State ever gets another player or two besides Tim Frazier going, the Nittany Lions just might surprise some people. As it is, they’re 6-2 while being carried by one of the best players in the Big Ten, and Wednesday night’s 62-54 win at Boston College may show what could be possible if this happens.
No team can ever rely on one player, and certainly not Penn State. Frazier is a good player, but he’s not exactly at the top of people’s minds as a first team All-American. He’ll do all he can for this team, and he’s certainly done plenty thus far, but the plain fact is that if this team is to be better than one of the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders, other players need to get going on something resembling a consistent basis.
On Wednesday, Frazier had to sit for stretches in the first half after he picked up his second foul before the halfway point. At first, they didn’t score for more than two and a half minutes with him out, but they managed to stay close in the first half despite getting just two points from their star. With that, you had a feeling that they would have a chance in this game as long as he didn’t get in more foul trouble in the second half.
Granted, Boston College is not a good team, as the Eagles are not only young but inexperienced all over and trying to find out combinations as well as learn about the college game. It’s not like Penn State knocked off North Carolina on Wednesday. But the game served to illustrate what might be possible for this team if Frazier gets some help.
Frazier didn’t get in more foul trouble in the second half, and Boston College never broke away from Penn State despite leading for much of the first 12 minutes of the second half. The Eagles ultimately paid the price with the game.
One player who could be that second scorer is Jermaine Marshall, who had a career-high 22 points on Wednesday night to go with eight rebounds. Marshall has now scored in double figures twice on the season and looks athletic enough to be a scoring threat from the wing. One factor with the sophomore is that he had not played for two years before last season, as he missed his senior season of high school with a torn patella tendon in his knee and then redshirted his true freshman year to continue rehabbing the injury and put on weight. He’s scored his points in bunches in his career, scoring 18 against Purdue in one game last year and half of his points on the season before Wednesday night against South Florida in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
Now that he’s played a full season and is en route to getting more consistent minutes this season, Marshall may have a lot of the rust shaken off. Frazier said he saw some of Marshall’s potential last year albeit in spurts. Chambers said he had practiced well leading up to Wednesday’s game and had a sense that Marshall might have a good game coming, as did Frazier.
“He had great practices coming up to this, and it showed on the court today,” Frazier said of Marshall. “He was hitting shots, playing defense, led the team in rebounding.”
Another candidate is third-leading scorer Billy Oliver, and like Marshall he spent last year getting some rust taken off. Oliver missed nearly two seasons due to a concussion and related symptoms following it. Chambers thinks on any given night, the second scorer could be Marshall, Oliver, Cameron Woodyard or freshman Trey Lewis among others. Lewis is the only Nittany Lion besides Frazier who is in double digits in assists on the season.
No matter who it is, getting someone to help Fraizer in the scoring department will be important. Frazier is a competitor and will do everything he can for this team to win, and thus far he has with his scoring and passing. But take some of the load off of him and this team will only be better.
“I think it’s crucial,” Chambers said. “I thought BC did a really good job on Tim. Let’s give BC their due right there.”
The Nittany Lions are 6-2 while relying a lot on Frazier. As the players get adjusted to new roles and the new coach, if they improve this team could be better than many think.