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Nov. 9, 2013
Penn State 74, Wagner 62
Bryce Jordan Center
Patrick Chambers, Penn State head coach
Q: Tim [Frazier] said he was really jittery before the game. Did you talked to him in the locker room or on the court to try to calm him down? What did you think of his overall performance?
A: I absolutely did. Before we ran out we had a nice moment together. He worked so hard to get to this point and you can understand he was jacked up in the first 20 minutes. I think he settled things down in the second half, which was good.
Q: Are you happy with 43 free throw attempts? What’s it like to have two guards who can get to the line with the new rule?
A: We have to adjust as coaches, and we’re trying to. Obviously it’s an advantage because we have three really good guards. When you get in foul trouble, it messes kids up. We just have to continue to coach and do the best we can and see how guys are calling it. You have to adjust in media timeouts. Trust me, the last five minutes felt like two hours and I’m the coach. I take advantage of their speed. I wanted to get Tim [Frazier] and D.J. [Newbill] to the line so I was calling plays to get them to the foul line.
Q: We saw Donovon Jack take a few good shots early in the game. Was that the game plan to get him involved early to free up Tim and D.J.?
A: With Donovon and Brandon and Alan Wisniewski and Julian [Moore] as he gets back, we want to get them the ball. It’s not like I don’t want an inside game because I do. It will take a lot of pressure of the guards. The last couple days of practice, I’ve been talking to Donovon about wanting the ball and going up strong. He was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line so he’s got a good stroke. I thought he did some good things. He was another guy in foul trouble. I think that’s the greatest challenge for coaches now. Your kids are going to get in foul trouble; what are they doing on the bench? How are they staying in tune? Are they staying focused? I throw them on the bike. We have a bike tucked in behind the bleachers. If there’s 12 minutes to go and I’m going to put you in under eight: go on the bike for four minutes. Doing little things like that that keep them focused and get the sweat back. When they’re sitting on the bench they get cold. I think that’s the biggest challenge. It wasn’t like it was a goal of ours to get him the ball but it just happened that way.
Q: Wagner opened the second half on a 10-1 run to cut into your lead, and then Tim seemed to take over for a bit. He hit a few layups on fast breaks and knocked down a three-pointer. Can you talk about the turnaround at that point?
A: First of all, they’re extremely well coached. This is a really good team. You’ll see them in the NCAA tournament, that’s how good they are. We did not take them lightly. We felt like it was going to be a Big Ten game and that’s the way we played. A 10-1 run, obviously, as a coach, you do everything you can to prevent it. Having Tim back with D.J. and those guys, being able to get us to the foul line and hit a big three and stop their momentum, they scored in spurts but I never felt like it was time to really get concerned. I think it got to six maybe and Tim hit a three. We answered the bell every time they made their little runs, which was good to see. It showed us where we are right now.
Q: You guys shot under 36 percent from the field. Was that just due to first game jitters?
A: I just said to the team that the first game is always the toughest. I don’t care who you play. The last three years, the first game has always been the toughest. I would say first game jitters, unfortunately they’re trying to play perfect, but they just have to go out there and play and relax. We’ve been working since August. So whatever comes natural: do that.
Q: With that, and the way Wagner shot, there were a lot of rebounds to be had. You had the edge. Tim and D.J. each had 10-plus. What did you think about the way you rebounded?
A: I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half. I was pretty fired up. They took 23 threes so there’s a lot of long rebounds. We got our hands on a lot of balls; we just couldn’t squeeze them. It’s definitely something we’re working on every day. We have a great team coming in here on Wednesday; they’re going to rebound the ball. They have great bigs as always. So we have to do a good job of taking care of the glass. Then we have two guards that get double-doubles for us; it’s pretty good, but they can’t do this all year long. They wont have to. We have Brandon [Taylor], Donovon [Jack], and Allen Roberts. I feel good about our bench. The lineups that we played today just presented themselves.
Q: You mentioned how you guys kept answering the bell. Were you hoping you guys would pull away at some point? They kind of hung around between eight and 11 points pretty much the rest of the way through to the end. Were you hoping you would pull away or were you comfortable with where you guys sat?
A: You’re never comfortable as a coach. Obviously, you want to take an eight point lead and make it 11, and take 11 and make it 14. I just think Wagner is that good. They’ve got great guards; they have good bigs; they’re athletic; but they were going through the same thing we were going through: foul trouble. I thought it was a very difficult game to coach and to play in. I was pleased with the outcome but I was really pleased with how they kept competing and battled.
Q: Wagner started the game 0-7 from three and you held them to 25 percent shooting in the first half. What was your defensive strategy going in to the game and what adjustments were made?
A: They have really good shooters in Harris and Rivers. They were actually missing a guy, I’m not sure where he was. They have good shooters. The kid Ortiz is a senior; he’s an all-league player. We were trying to get to their feet and speed them up; obviously they took advantage of that. In the second half they started driving the ball more and it got us into foul trouble but we’re doing a good job defending the three-point line. Then the next thing we have to do is keep guys off the line.
Q: I know you talked about guys that earned the right to take those shots, but Ross Travis is 9-66 from three point range throughout his career and he seems to do better when he’s around the basket. Knowing that he’s the kind of guy that can be a critical part of what you’re doing, do you have to take time to remind him of what he’s really good at and what he should do?
A: Honestly, I thought Ross was ready to play. He shot the ball well last week. He comes in and nobody works harder than him. He got in foul trouble and I think what you saw today was the product of a young man who was in foul trouble and had to adjust his mindset. We mixed it up a lot. We had Ross on the perimeter and we had him inside. But when you have him on the bench your hands are tied.
Q: Were the early fouls in each half alarming to you? On the opposite end, how did they feel you were at the free throw line? Tim said he wishes he converted more at the line.
A: We have to be at least over 70 percent if we’re going to win these close games. I’m glad we got to the line that much. We have to adjust again when they’re calling fouls like that. I don’t think the officiating was poor because that’s the way they’re supposed to call it. As coaches and players, we have to adjust. For us to leave 13 points on that court, that’s too many points. Then you win by 16 or 18 if you make a couple free throws.
#23 Tim Frazier, graduate guard
Q: Tim, First game back for you in the regular season how did it feel and how did the chemistry between you and DJ feel? Obviously you both had a double-double.
A: It was great. I can tell you I had so many jitters running through my veins. Last week was great but it was still an exhibition. But this time to se the fans to really put a jersey on and for it to really count. You can ask him (D.J. Newbill) I was like “ I have too many jitters right now” I’m in warm-ups and I’m just like I’ve got too many jitters. I keep breathing and breathing and breathing cause I’ve been gone so long and I’ve missed so much to be able to step back on the court with these guys and it was just an amazing moment and I’ll never forget this day.
Q: Did you have someone talk to you to calm you down? Did D.J. (Newbill) or did Coach (Chambers) say anything to you?
A: He did. He was like “I got you man.” He said that they cause they all saw and Ross (Travis) saw it as well and he came up to me and said “I got you, don’t worry I got you” and after that I just took a couple breaths and shaking my hands and just tried to throw all my negative energy and jitters away. And D.J said he got me and after that I was good.
Q: Tim, You talked about last year that you observed the game as a coach and noticed things a little differently from the bench. Were you able to apply any of that during the game or is it just how you approached the game?
A: It’s definitely how I approached the game. But after that I think even during the game. Sometimes you see me run over to coach and you see certain situations that I take on my own. And he is giving me the leeway of that. I call certain plays, and call certain defensive plays and we just make eye contact and its fine. I think that’s what a year benefitted me for was being able to be a step a head of sometimes what Coach is looking for and as well as what the team needs. In certain situations where there going on a run and we need to get to the basket, we need to get a foul, we need a good shot and I think that’s what that maturity of sitting out a year is going to help me.
Q: Tim you took 17 free throws and kind of struggled with them early. Is that just getting your game speed and legs back?
A: I don’t know. I’m still very upset about those I left those 5 on the line right now. But like I said, the other guys on the team they also got foaled and they picked me up. Especially D.J. (Newbill) he did a great job at the line 6-9 and just all the way around the board. I think we benefitted from this new rule and if we can get to the line like we did today, 43 times as a team, I think we will be fine. We all have to practice free throws. I know I’m going to go back and practice free throws and shoot a bunch and I know we will as a team so we can try to stay 100% throughout the game.
#2 D.J. Newbill, junior guard
Q: Do you think it helped (Calming Tim down)?
A: Yeah. He played a great game today so those jitters went out quick and it was good to have him out on the court.
Q: How do you think your role will be different now that Tim (Frazier) is back versus what it was last year? Is it going to take a few games to figure that out or do you have a pretty good idea of what it might be already based on tonight and practices?
A: My role is not going to change I’m still going to be a leader. I’m going to be out there just trying to help the team win. Now that Tim is back I’ve got more help in the back court but my role isn’t really going to change, same thing from last year. Just going out and playing hard and doing anything my team needs to win.
Q: The two of you (Newbill & Frazier) were the two leading rebounders for the team. Is that something you’ve been trying to strive to do to help the team with rebounding or is that just how it played out today?
A: It just kind of played out that way. We teach the game rebound, all 5 guys rebound. I think we’ve got a few balls bounced our way and we were just trying to get them off the boards. That was part of our game plan was to rebound hard because they had some big athletic guys so we were just trying to help our bigs with getting rebounds.
Q: Did you notice the difference between last year with the new hand checking rule? Did it seem like it affected the game or not so much?
A: When I’m out there I’m not really paying attention to things like that I’m just trying to play hard. I didn’t really see a lot of hand checks called so I don’t think the rule really affected this game.
Bashir Mason, Wagner Head Coach
Q: In regards to shooting the ball today, was it more you guys missing shots or was it them playing great defense?
A: I think that is was us. With it being the first game, there were some nerves and jitters. I figured eventually the ball was going to start to fall, we just had to defend. Although we weren’t making shots, I think we felt that we were never really out of the game because we were doing such a good job defensively.
Q: What were your thoughts on Tim Frazier?
A: He is a really good guard; you know he is a preseason first team selection in the Big Ten. He is a proven fifth year guard and he is a fifth year kid, so he is older. He was solid and steady. Every time we made a mistake, he made us play and he is a really good player.
Q: Was the plan to try and win from the perimeter or is that just how the game ended up?
A: That is definitely the way this game played out. We have a good five or six guards that shoot the ball from the perimeter and that is a weapon for us. Tonight, they just weren’t falling. I didn’t feel like we shot any forced or bad shots, they just weren’t going down.
Q: Why do you think that Penn State had two guards leading in the rebound category tonight?
A: They don’t really have a low post presence and their big guys spend a lot of time on the perimeter. Their guards did a good job of gathering up the long rebounds.