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October 31, 2013

Chambers previews debut of dynamic duo

Patrick Chambers took to the podium Thursday morning at Big Ten Basketball Media Day in Chicago, just days from his Nittany Lions' first official exhibition game of the 2013-14 season.

Still boasting a full voice - something he's touted all preseason as a byproduct of not having to "yell or scream" at his mix of veteran and younger players - Chambers began by setting the stage for his season ahead.

"What I would say is new beginnings for us, looking forward to new beginnings. Obviously the last two years we've been working hard. Our record doesn't indicate how hard these kids have worked," Chambers said. "We look forward to a fresh start, and we look forward to this up coming season. Hopefully it's a healthy one and we keep all of our guys on the floor and being able to compete."

Specifically, Chambers is hoping for a healthy season from his fifth-year senior, preseason All-Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier.

Coming off an Achilles tear just four games into the 2012-13 season, Frazier returned to action with the Nittany Lions full-time in August on the team's foreign tour to Europe. In three games on the trip, Frazier poured in 38 points, resting all of the second half in the game's final appearance.

Now, in finally rejoining last season's leading scorer, redshirt junior guard D.J. Newbill, Frazier and the Nittany Lions once again have the healthy duo that prompted Chambers to project his pair as one of the best backcourts in the country before the year had even begun.

"Obviously it's exciting to have that dynamic duo to put a Penn State jersey on this year," Chambers said. "I think D.J. learned so much about the point guard position in general. And now you have two guys that can make plays for teammates.

"You can't just focus on one or the other. You've got to focus on both those guys. There's gotta be a lot of space on the floor for other guys to step up and make plays. D.J. has a great appreciation for the point guard position and what Tim does. And D.J., by the end of the year, I felt like was a very capable point guard. I think he did some great things."

With Newbill forced to sit out during Frazier's junior season due to NCAA transfer restrictions, and Frazier missing nearly all of the past season, the time spent on the court for the pair simultaneously has been far from plentiful.

Giving them an opportunity to team up starting in the summer and all through the current preseason - something Chambers decided against while both were healthy two years ago, for obvious reasons - he said he's liked what they've been able to do together so far, and is looking forward to what he hopes will be a successful season behind both of their efforts.

"With Tim coming back healthy, what we've done, we did a foreign tour," he said. "We've had those guys play together since the first practice in August because they've got to learn how to play together. And I think they don't mind if one's a leading scorer and‑‑ they just want to win basketball games. They're at that stage. They're mature. They're a little bit older. D.J.'s a redshirt junior, so technically he's a senior in his mentality and approach.

"So I think you're going to see an older veteran back court that kind of has been through a lot. One's a transfer; one went through a major injury. Tim looks very good. One hundred percent healthy. Played really well in August. He's playing well right now. I'd say a little bit rusty and that's understandable.

"But moving forward, that should be a back court that a lot of teams should fear."

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