The Associated Press
UNIVERSITY?PARK - While first-year coach Patrick Chambers brings energy and a new identity to Penn State basketball, any success this season in Happy Valley will likely revolve heavily around a returnee from the Nittany Lions' old regime.
Point guard Tim Frazier is the lone returning starter from Penn State's 2010-11 campaign. The other four starters on that team, which finished 19-15 and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years, were seniors, including the school career leading scorer Talor Battle.
Now, it's Frazier's turn to take the shots and the spotlight.
"I'm going to get a lot of attention I didn't get last year," said Frazier, who averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 assists per game last season. "But I've just been adjusting as far as taking a leadership role, taking it day by day."
The expectations for Frazier's junior season are high, even though expectations for the team are low. In a media poll at Big Ten media day last week in Chicago, Penn State was picked to finish last in the 12-team conference.
Chambers replaced Ed DeChellis, who coached his alma mater for eight seasons before leaving in May to take the same job at Navy. At his first preseason team media day Tuesday, Chambers said he's still not sure what kind of style of play his team will employ, but he expects to take advantage of Frazier's speed.
"He's a freak," Chambers said about the 6-foot-1 junior. "His speed, his athleticism ... He's a much better shooter than people give him credit for. His decision making, his IQ. He can run a team. He can jump out of the building."
Frazier has been pushed hard in preseason practice by freshman guard Trey Lewis.
"I give it everything I've got because I want to make Tim better," Lewis said. "That's a big part of my role this year."
That was a big part of Frazier's role the past few seasons, too. Frazier said he worked hard in practice to make sure that Battle - the team's leading scorer in each of the last four seasons - was always on top of his game.
Frazier called Battle "a big brother."
"Leading by example - that was one the main focuses he took care of every day in practice," Frazier said. "That's why he's a 2,000-point scorer."
Frazier isn't a natural scorer, but he said he's willing to do anything it takes to help Penn State win. Chambers said that's exactly what he wants from the team captain he calls "a stoic kid out there who plays with great energy and great passion."