Originally written on Just Cover Blog  |  Last updated 11/19/14

In 2010, Penn State was the thinnest team in the Big Ten – their five starters all averaged over thirty minutes per game, and only a sixth player made an appearance in each game – this team was more reliant on it’s starting five than any in the conference. The problem, of course, is that most of them were seniors. Between all-conference selections Talor Battle and Jeff Brooks, third scorer David Jackson, and offensive-rebounding force Andrew Jones, Penn State loses 49 points per game and 21 rebounds with virtually nobody with experience ready to fill in the blanks. In the off-season, Penn State also replaced Ed DeChellis – figuring that losing most of your roster is the best time to change schemes.

So what returns? Most importantly, the Nittany Lions return point-guard Tim Frazier. As a sophomore, Frazier was not much of a scorer (his eFG% a paltry 46%), but he was an effective game manager, with his assists nearly doubling his turnovers. He also was Penn State’s most effective ball-hawk. They also return sophomore Billy Oliver – their all-purpose front-court substitute. Oliver was the one player who got consistent minutes off the bench, but failed to distinguish himself in any meaningful way – he was a poor shooter, a mediocre rebounder, and a forgettable defender. He is also, likely, the starting power forward.

The next most used players from last year’s teams are a pair of guards – Cameron Woodyard and Jermaine Marshall, who were pressed into service during foul-trouble, disciplinary benchings, or injury. Woodyard, a rising senior, largely did nothing but miss a ton of shots when he was on the floor, he’s likely not a starter. Jermaine Marshall, a rising sophomore, didn’t really distinguish himself, but the bar here is low – he’s your likely starting shooting guard.

This being Penn State, their recruiting class doesn’t offer a bounty of riches. Small Forward Ross Travis was the only recruit ranked by all four major scouting bureaus, meriting a unanimous 3-star ranking. Center Pat Ackerman warranted a 3-star ranking from one service, but was un-noted by anybody else. There are two players who red-shirted last year with a bit more hype to them, however. Jonathan Graham is a red-shirt freshman power-forward who was a unanimous three-star recruit noted for his effort levels, while sophomore Sasa Borovnjak played sparingly as a true-freshman, then spent last year sidelined with a knee injury. These two will likely join Oliver in the front-court, with Travis and Ackerman being the primary replacements.

Unsurprisingly, the Lions have leaned on Tim Frazier heavily out of the gates. Formerly a guard tasked with protecting the ball and defense, Frazier is the leading scorer (19.5 points per game), passer (7.1 assists), rebounder (5.7 rebounds), and stopper (2.3 steals). It’s really something of a heroic effort – he’s turned the ball over a fair amount, but his assist rate still nearly doubles that value, and he’s really doing it by himself. His shooting has improved by two points from the floor and seven from three-point in significantly higher usage – at this rate, his statistical profile is that of a better Talor Battle. Yes, you read that correctly. Moreover, he’s not just doing it against lightweights, scoring 22 against Mississippi and 19 at Boston College. The problem is that, as predicted, there’s nothing else here – Frazier and sophomore Sasa Borovjnak are the only players shooting over 40% from the floor, and Borovjnak only takes three shots a game. It’s a mystery who is scoring enough for Frazier to get seven assists a game.

There’s no way to sugar-court the prospects of the Nittany Lions – this is the worst roster in the conference by a fairly wide margin. There is no proven scorer on the team, inside or out, or a proven rebounder, or interior defender. The one thing this team does have is a point guard – but there’s nobody to whom he can pass the ball. This team is going to have to cross their fingers and hope they can knock Iowa off when they come to Happy Valley, because, while I’m sure they’ll win a game or two, I can’t see them being a favorite once during the conference slate.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Herschel Walker: Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson

Report: Raiders fielding calls about fourth overall pick

WATCH: UAB football player brings helmet to graduation

Andrew Luck to students: 'I'm only 25, I don't have advice'

Mark Sanchez: Tebow is another arm while Bradford recovers


Report: Former LSU CB Jalen Collins failed multiple drug tests

Six players suspended for White Sox-Royals brawl

Stephen A. Smith blasts Brady for missing White House visit

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Report: Angels, Rangers talking Josh Hamilton trade

Roger Goodell calls both Los Angeles stadium plans 'viable'

WATCH: Bucks mascot devours fan

Protestors tried to have Orioles-Red Sox game called off

Greg Hardy abandons his Bentley during flash flood

WATCH: LeBron James hits full-court shot after practice

Peyton Manning announces $3 million gift to Tennessee

WATCH: Leah Still scores TD in Temple spring game

WATCH: Todd Gurley shares video of himself sprinting

5 most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Steve Carell, Emma Stone to star in Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King film

Calipari’s new project: Create virtual reality experience for fans

Maurice Jones-Drew will retire with the Jaguars on Tuesday

Ovechkin jokes about taking a chair from Nassau Coliseum

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Sanchez shares thoughts on Tebow

Stephen A. Smith blasts Tom Brady

Kris Humphries apologizes for Jenner tweet

5 boring NFL prime time matchups

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.