If you missed one of our hoopstravaganza, here's the link. We handed out grades for the first half of the season, and discussed how the season has gone compared to our expectations. There's also, for lack of a better word, a lively comment section. Check it out.
In part two, we discuss our team MVP -- which if you have half a brain cell, you could probably figure out -- and we discuss who we think needs to step up in Big Ten play.
3) Who is your team MVP through 13 games?
Eric: It has to be Tim Frazier. He has scored or assisted on 173 of PSU's 362 made baskets this year. That is a whopping 47.7% of the team's offense generated by one player. But now that we know Tim is completely healthy, it's time to place the burden of winning on the senior. He's struggled down the stretch of a few games so far this year, most notably the Princeton fiasco. If Frazier wants to garner respect across the country, he needs to rise to the occasion late in games. Fair or not, that's the name of the game.
Tim: Tim Frazier, without a doubt. He's the engine that helps this team run, and if it wasn't apparent during last year's dismal Big Ten campaign, it sure is apparent now that the's back to his old speedy, leaping, assist-doling self. DJ Newbill would come in a very close second, given his consistency as a scorer and his ability to drive. Not to mention, Pat Chambers' 30-day challenge to Newbill (Newbill was not allowed to take a single shot outside of the paint for 30 days this past Summer in order to improve his shooting technique) was more successful than any Morgan Spurlock documentary.
Chad: The MVP thus far is Tim Frazier, without much of a doubt. D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis have been fantastic, but Frazier would be a household name if he wore a Michigan State or Ohio State jersey. He's second in the nation in assists and is pretty clearly the driving force behind one of the B1G's most explosive offenses. We're probably the worst team in the conference without Timmy, and I'm not sure that would be the case if you took away any other player.
Bill: It's Frazier. He's one of the 10-15 best players in college basketball, is arguably the best pure point guard in America, and is on pace to do something historic this season. There's not much that I can say that the other three haven't already said. Frazier is a gem and we should all be thankful that we get to watch him.
4) Who do you think needs to step up during Big Ten play?
Eric: Ross Travis is the X-factor. He's the most versatile player on the roster and you can see he's slowly starting to put it together. There's still a bad decision or two to be had by Ross every game, but those frustrating moments are becoming less frequent. The Lions desperately need him to be a consistent presence in conference play. He's been fairly consistent through the first two months of the season, but he did throw in that clunker at Pittsburgh that still lingers in my mind. Penn State will win games if Boss Travis shows up more often than Ross Travis. Hoping he can average 11-12 PPG and 7-8 RPG in B1G play for this team.
Tim: The guys up front. I get that Brandon Taylor has the green light to shoot it from downtown, but he needs to be able to rough and tumble on the boards with the Big Ten's bigs and avoid foul trouble (you can pretty much say the same thing regarding Donovon Jack, too). Ross Travis, while he is leaps and bounds better as a post player from a year ago, will truly be tested starting tomorrow night against Sparty. While I don't expect John Johnson to score 20 ppg off the bench, him becoming a reliable source of instant offense off the bench (similar to what Allen Roberts has been, for the most part) will go a long towards taking the pressure off any one backcourt player to carry the team on his shoulders.
Chad: It would really be nice if Brandon Taylor found some consistency in his second B1G go-round. When's he's on his game, he's the team's best three-point shooter and Penn State's second-best rebounder. He doesn't have to be a 50% 3pt shooting, 10 board-a-game kind of guy, he just needs to stay out of foul trouble and play within himself to be effective.
Bill: I want to see Allen Roberts and Brandon Taylor find their strokes from downtown. The old adage is that if you want to pull an upset, you need to hit your threes, and in Penn State's case, that's absolutely true. If the Nittany Lions want to survive the Big Ten and pull off an upset or two, the team will need to knock down a few shots from downtown. Taylor and Roberts are the team's three point specialists, and they're shooting 32.3 and 32.7 percent, respectively, from downtown. The two need to hit threes, it's that easy. John Johnson and D.J. Newbill are going to hit shots if they get them, but they aren't three point specialists. Taylor and Roberts are. They could be the difference between Penn State winning 4-6 conference games and Penn State winning 7-9 conference games.