Column: Lack of Post Presence Will Hinder PSU
Penn State may have a case for one of the best backcourt duos in the Big Ten. With a combination of DJ Newbill, and Tim Frazier, Nittany Lions fans may have something to be excited about.
However what the Lions lack is a post presence. Ross Travis has proven to be a solid rebounder, averaging almost eight rebounds a game last season, but he isn’t a true bruiser down low. The frontcourt will be a serious issue for Penn State this season. 6-foot-9 sophomore, Donovon Jack, is a first year starter, but doesn’t seem to be the real post presence Penn State is looking for. He seemed soft in Penn State’s season opener against Wagner; Jack may be a few years away from developing into a dominant power forward.
Does that mean Penn State will have to play small? I believe so, because what other options do they have? 7 foot SMU transfer Jordan Dickerson won’t be eligible to play until next year, leaving the Nittany Lions with a weak frontcourt.
Penn State only outrebounded a sub-par Wagner team by three in their season opener. That’s just not going to get the job done. What’s even worse is that star guards Newbill and Fraizer were the two leading rebounders. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great when your guards are willing to fight for boards, but when you’re starting center and power forward only combine for five rebounds, you will certainly run into some problems.
With absolutely zero post presence, Penn State has a zero percent chance to knock off the Big Ten’s elite teams when conference play opens up. Newbill and Frazier will not get the open shots they need, and teams will begin to play them tight man to man, giving little attention to their post players and at times playing off their forwards to help with Newbill and Frazier.
How can Penn State make up for this huge hole? Simple answer play a four out, one in, lineup, and try to win games by causing turnovers and winning the transition game. That’s their best chance for success. Ross Travis is versatile and can step out and knock down an outside shot when he needs to.
Penn State’s four guard lineup would include Tim Frazier at point guard, unproven but scrappy freshman Graham Woodward at shooting guard, with DJ Newbill at small forward and playing more of a slashing guard position. Brandon Taylor as a swingman outside, and finally Ross Travis at center. Travis can succeed in this role, because I believe he can really stretch the defense and take a slower center outside and utilize his speed.
Either way Penn State better figure their frontcourt out soon, because prized big men like Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, will cause some serious damage against the Nittany Lions, if they don’t find their identity soon.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey)