Patrick Chambers understands the importance of his dynamic backcourt duo of redshirt junior D.J. Newbill and fifth-year senior point guard Tim Frazier.
The pair were selected as 2014 All-Big Ten second and third team members, respectively, by both the media and conference coaches. Their 1,090 combined points scored this season account for nearly half of the team's total scoring output, Frazier's 5.4 assists being tops in the league and Newbill's 17.8 points checking in at No. 2 in the conference.
As the Nittany Lions (16-17 overall, 6-12 B1G) get set for Monday night's second-round College Basketball Invitational matchup in Albany, N.Y., against Siena, the pair's importance to the team's continuing quest to extend its season as long as possible to build experience and gain valuable practice time is indisputable.
"Their leadership makes them special, their pride in our program obviously makes them special," Chambers said. "I think they can score in a variety of ways. Tim, obviously broke the assist record this year. D.J. Newbill has been a really efficient scorer.
"And they defend and rebound and they do other things. They don't just score the basketball. They are really complete players that have done a great job of playing with one another this year."
Whether or not their contest against the Saints represents the final time they'll play together or not, Chambers' goals for his team in the postseason require a slightly altered strategy to what took place in the Nittany Lions' opening-round matchup win over Hampton, though.
Coming off a performance in which Newbill was limited to 23 minutes due to foul trouble and, as a result, Frazier's playing time extended to 38 minutes - besting even his team-high average of 35.2 minutes per game - Chambers said he intends to get his team's heir apparent to the point position, Graham Woodward, more action on Monday night.
"This is Tim Frazier's last go-round, and who knows if it's going to be his last game in the BJC, so you kind of reward your senior for that. D.J. only played 23 minutes. I was planning on playing him between 25 and 30 anyway because he really wants to play and has become a real strong leader," Chambers said. "But I gotta get Graham a couple of more minutes and that's going to be the goal here heading into Siena."
Though Woodward was afforded just 10 minutes of action against Hampton last week, Chambers was pleased to have the true freshman point guard acting as an inbounder in the game's critical late game moments. Combined with fellow true freshman Geno Thorpe's late-season breakout, transfer big man Jordan Dickerson's increased role and the steady development of Brandon Taylor, though, the forced circumstances were far from being a lost opportunity.
The Saints, 16-17 overall and 11-9 in the MAAC, topped Stony Brook last Tuesday in the opening round of the CBI.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Times Union Center. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.