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February 27, 2014

Frazier not ready for retrospective

The questions were unavoidable.

One after the other, Tim Frazier was asked to reflect on his career at Penn State, the agony of his ruptured Achilles tendon last year, his triumphs and disappointments on and off the court.

The Nittany Lions' fifth-year senior point guard, of course, is not close to being ready for this retrospective yet.

His Nittany Lions, armed with an opportunity to complete a season sweep against No. 20-ranked Ohio State on Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, have five guaranteed games remaining in the 2013-14 season. But, due to Penn State's academic calendar bringing spring break to students beginning on Saturday, tonight's matchup will be Frazier's final tip with his Nittany Nation peers in the stands.

Said Frazier, "I try not to look back just yet… It's been a great year. We're going to continue to get better. Obviously our record doesn't show how good of a team we are, but we're going to continue. We still have four games left to prove it."

Well, five, actually, including at least a first round matchup in the Big Ten Tournament in mid March. At 13-14 overall for the season and holding onto a 4-10 mark against conference opponents, Frazier and his teammates have hardly run out of reasons to keep playing hard.

In fact, though the Nittany Lions currently find themselves in last place in the Big Ten, a win Thursday night would propel them into a potential five-way tie at the back end of the conference, joining Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern, all of whom currently sit at five conference wins.

Choosing to ignore the possibilities - as has been the mantra for head coach Patrick Chambers and his Nittany Lions all season - Frazier said each day's objective has been clearly defined.

"Take it day by day and try to win each day. Get better. We've had two great practices, two tough practices, and now we're trying to make it a third and then make the fourth one tomorrow and get ready for Thursday," Frazier said earlier this week. "At the same time, not look too far ahead. We only get five guaranteed games left, but we got one practice today and tomorrow and we'll just keep focusing on that."

Though Chambers reiterated the same message, unsurprisingly, he still had plenty of positive things to say about the Big Ten's assists leader and now, Penn State's all-time assists leader.

Needing just three more rebounds to become the conference's second-ever performer to score 1,000 points while racking up 600 assists and 500 rebounds, Frazier undoubtedly represents one of Penn State's all-time bests but, for Chambers, the bond goes much deeper.

"Obviously, it's going to be hard. He was the guy you go to, talk to, learn the ropes and helping you out in good times and in bad. He's become a great leader," Chambers said. "Obviously a great basketball player. He's done some things that a lot of individuals haven't done in a long time. So basketball-wise, that speaks for itself, but just as a human being, an ambassador of this program and an ambassador of the university in such a tough time, with everything that we've gone through with the university in the last three years - a kid like that who excels in the classroom, excels in charity.

"You're not just losing a basketball player, you're losing a son. Somebody who means a great deal to you, because we - Tim and I - have invested a lot into each other and we spent a great deal of time together. It's going to be emotional. It's going to be hard. I'm sure it's going to be hard for both of us, but I think he's ready for the next chapter."

Not quite yet, though, said Frazier.

Insistent on demonstrating the strides he and his teammates have made through the course of the season, Frazier said there is still much work to be done.

"I wouldn't say there's something to prove, but we want to be the best team we can be at the end of the year, and we have an opportunity to do that," he said. "Our record doesn't show how great of a team we are, but we have four games to really go out there and prove it."

Tip-off is at 7:05 p.m. and will air on ESPN2. Frazier bobblehead dolls will be given to all fans at the BJC while supplies last.


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