While it initially seemed like a minor ankle injury, the result of Tim Frazier hitting the floor early against Akron at the Puerto Rico Tip-off tournament proved to be much more serious.
After sustaining a lower leg injury on Sunday, it was officially announced today that Frazier, the unquestioned leader and go-to playmaker of the Nittany Lions, will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
“We all have to step up,” guard D.J. Newbill said. “Tim is a big part of our team and we have to step up and fill that spot.”
Despite walking off the court on his own power following the injury, the senior standout was evaluated by doctors in State College yesterday, and will undergo surgery this afternoon.
Coach Patrick Chambers said the recovery will be 6-12 months and hopes to have Frazier back by the summer.
Even though his season is over, Frazier’s career as a Lions may not be.
The senior will be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt and come back for the 2013-14 campaign. Chambers said he has talked to Frazier about a medical redshirt, but no decision has been made.
Frazier’s loss could prove to be destructive to hopes of a postseason bid for Lions, considering his reliable contributions in all facets of the game.
Not only did the 6-foot-1 guard’s 18.8 points per game last year rank second in the Big Ten, but he also was at the top of the conference in assists (6.2) and steals (2.4) per game. He led the Lions in points, rebounds and assists per game in 2011.
Frazier was also the only Division I player last year to average more than 17 points and six assists per game.
In terms of preseason accolades, Frazier was named to the Naismith Award watch list and the Wooden Award Men’s Preseason Top 50.
Despite the loss of the team’s leader, Chambers doesn’t believe that Frazier’s early injury will doom the entire season for the Lions.
“The sky’s not falling, the season’s not over,” Chambers said. “This is an opportunity for guys to step up.”
One of those guys who will need to take control in the backcourt will be Newbill.
The 6-foot-4 slashing guard, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, dropped 20 points on Sunday and ran point guard for most of the game – something that Chambers will expect the guard to do moving forward.
“He needs to play the way he's been playing, he needs to step up more because he's going to have the ball more."
And even though Frazier won’t be on the court, it’s expected that the senior will still make his presence felt on the bench, much like Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti did last season after tearing his ACL.
“Tim will sit up front,” Chambers said. “He has to be an assistant. He has to pump the guys up.”
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