Tim Frazier season-ending injury in an early-season tournament game is about as close to worst-case scenario as it gets for Penn State in 2012-2013.
Instead of running the offense, the first-team All-Big Ten point guard will be operating a mobilized scooter for a while after having surgery on his ruptured left Achilles tendon last week. When I first learned this news, probably like many Penn State fans, I thought the season was pretty much pointless and over.
The idea of nine-, eight- and even seven-win seasons popped into my head as I pictured this team spiraling back to futility. But it was an overreaction.
The more I thought about it — and especially after watching the Nittany Lions against Bucknell last Friday — the more I thought this season will be bad, but not that bad without Frazier.
Penn State will undoubtedly lose about five games it would've won with the star point guard healthy, and the team will get throttled a handful of times once conference play starts. There will be many times over the course of the next three months in which this team looks like it did in the first half against Bucknell (5-of-31 shooting, 16 points).
But is the season now a lost cause without Frazier? No.
Figuring Frazier medically redshirts and returns to the Jordan Center hardwood next year, the way I see it, this season becomes a lot like the 2011-12 campaign. That's probably not what many fans want to envision as last season's squad won only 12 games and was 0-9 on the road in conference play.
The current team is now an unseasoned group and its team's best player will run the point while another guard is forced to watch from the sidelines.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
I'm not sure who I'd take in a matchup between last season's squad against the current team, but it would probably be a close game. Not a natural point guard, D.J. Newbill is step down from Frazier at the position. But his supporting cast is a year older and Brandon Taylor is a freshman that has already worked his way into the starting lineup.
So with the script relatively the same as last season, the Lions' win total will likely be in the same neighborhood, but this season isn't a waste. Frazier's loss leaves a big void on the court, and someone needs to take the shots and opportunities that would have otherwise fallen to the Houston native.
Chances are going to be there for players on this team to step up and take them. It looks like Newbill will be grow into the point guard role and he, Jermaine Marshall, Ross Travis, Taylor and Jon Graham will all have increased chances to better their games on both ends of the floor with Frazier sidelined.
My favorite comment coach Patrick Chambers made at his press conference Monday was that him and this are not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves because they lost their best player. That's the right idea to have.
Yes, this season was supposed to be "next season" with Frazier and Newbill together. So, now next season again becomes next season.
But if everything falls into place, who knows the potential of 2013-14 team?
Stephen Pianovich is a junior majoring in print journalism. He is a Collegian football and men’s basketball reporter, and his email is email@example.com.