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Nov. 10, 2013
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just moments before the Penn State men's basketball team was set to kick off the 2013-`14 season against Wagner, Tim Frazier took a deep breath and tried to relax.
Having missed all but four games of last season with a left Achilles injury, the senior point guard couldn't help but feel anxious in his first regular season game back in the Nittany Lion lineup.
"I had so many jitters running through my veins," said Frazier. "I had been out so long and missed so much I just kept breathing and breathing."
The first half saw Frazier ease himself back into the flow of the game as he finished the period with just six points. Then the second half began and the Houston, Texas, native exploded.
After a 10-1 run by the Seahawks cut the Nittany Lions lead to 33-30, Frazier decided enough was enough and starting attacking the basket at will, scoring 19 second half points to help give Penn State a 74-62 victory.
"As a coach you do everything to prevent a 10-1 run from happening," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "Having Tim back, he was able to get to the foul line and hit a big three that stopped their momentum and slowed things down."
Along with his ability to penetrate Wagner's defense, Frazier's clutch free throw shooting was essential to the Nittany Lions as they looked to close the game out.
The senior guard went 8-for-9 from the charity stripe in the second period, while going 6-for-6 in the final two minutes to put to rest any chance of a Seahawk comeback.
"If we can get to line 43 times like we did today I think we'll be fine," said Frazier. "I know I still want go back and practice (free throws) so that I can stay near 100 percent at the end of the game."
Surprisingly, the most impressive aspect of Frazier's afternoon may have actually been his rebounding and not his shooting or passing.
With the Seahawks attempting many long jump shots, including 23 3-pointers, the Nittany Lion guards saw countless rebounding opportunities and Frazier took advantage, grabbing 10 boards to go with his 25 points and four assists.
Shooting guard D.J. Newbill, who himself grabbed 11 rebounds, said that he and Frazier were happy to help the team in any way they could, even if that meant protecting the glass.
"Part of our game plan was to rebound hard because we knew they had some big, athletic guys," said Newbill. "We just wanted to help our big guys out and gang rebound."
Frazier's performance was lauded by Wagner head coach Bashir Mason, who admitted that his squad was unable to shut down the preseason All-Big Ten Team selection, despite having made him their top priority heading into the game.
"He's a really good guard and he played his game and was steady," said Mason. "Every time we made a mistake he made us pay."
As the game progressed and Frazier began to get over his pre-game butterflies, he began to implement some of the strategies that he learned from Chambers while spending most of last season on the sidelines.
If there is any silver lining that Frazier can take away from his injury it is that he now views the game not just as a player, but also as a coach.
"There are situations where Coach and I just make eye contact and he gives me the leeway to call certain plays," said Frazier. "I think last year benefited me in helping me be a step ahead in seeing what the team needs."
For Chambers, having his floor general back means more to him than simply making his job as a coach easier.
Having watched Frazier rehab his injury while keeping a positive attitude and leading the team, the coach could not have been prouder to see him shake off his nerves and play so effectively.
"We had a nice moment together before the team ran out," said Chambers. "He's worked so hard and you can understand him being jacked up in the first half but he settled down in the second which was good to see."
The best part of the afternoon for Frazier was not just winning the game or leading the team in scoring, but simply being back in uniform and in front of the Nittany Lion fans once again.
"To put a jersey on and to see the fans and have it really count was great," said Frazier. "Being back on the court with these guys was an amazing moment and I'll never forget this day."