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August 9, 2013

Frazier set for playing return

Set to hop on a bus Saturday morning, drive to Philadelphia International Airport, board a flight to Brussels, Belgium, and embark on a six-night European tour, head coach Patrick Chambers and the Penn State men's basketball team laced up for one final practice.

The tenth of an NCAA-allotted 10 summer practices leading up to the foreign exhibition trip, Chambers hoped to install the final nuts and bolts for a team he says he feels is on the cusp of heading in a much better direction.

Coming off a disappointing 10-21 season, the return of senior All-Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier is a big reason why.

Losing the dynamic scorer just four games into the 2012-13 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, Frazier's return actually helped prompt the mid-August Euro-tour.

"I wanted to do it for Tim. Just because of the injury, I wanted to get him back playing in some real games before we actually get there," Chambers said. "Typically, with injuries of that magnitude, it might take him until January, February. For him and us, I don't know that we have that type of time."

If Frazier's presence at the Nittany Lions' practices this summer have been any indication, he's well ahead of schedule for a rehabilitation that typically takes longer. Now at a sturdier 180 pounds, Frazier has already matched many of his physical testing numbers he'd reached before the injury, including a recent 35-inch vertical jump.

Saying that he feels great about his progress, Frazier insisted that the trip, and maybe more important, the team's preparation for it, have been monumentally important.

"It's been great being able to actually have coach on the floor," Frazier said. "Being able to practice, being able to go live has been great for me. Just to give me that feeling of being back on the court with these guys, as well as being with coach again as well as doing the same things I was doing before."

Following a last-day breakfast with his star guard, Chambers said he feels the same.

"I felt like he was in a great place. He feels pretty good about himself - the Achilles itself and his body in general," he said. "Look, I've watched guys get hurt - ACLs, MCLs, and they're never the same right away.

"This guy looks like he's already back, to me. Now, his timing is going to be a problem, slowing himself down, because he's out for nine months. You're getting out there and you just want to go crazy. Just gotta slow him down, and he will as the season progresses."

With three exhibition games and some educational travel to tourist destinations in both London and Paris, Chambers said he's hoping the trip can help spark what he hopes will be a positive season for his Nittany Lions in his third year at the helm.

Said Chambers, "I felt like it was the right time. The timing was right. I feel like in year three, we're about to flip it a little bit. This team is about to head in a much better direction."

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