Travis, Penn State men's basketball team finding their way
College Football Videos
The alley-oop pass appeared to be too ambitious and seemed destined to sail out of bounds.
A soaring Ross Travis, however, snatched the ball out of midair — and from the turnover column — and slammed it through the hoop. Earlier in a disjointed game at Bryce Jordan Center, the Penn State forward lost control of the ball while driving to the hoop, the kind of unforced error that can tax a coach's follicle count.
The two plays could not have been more different, and they make Travis emblematic of a Penn State basketball team trying to find its way following a season-ending foot injury to dynamic point guard Tim Frazier.
Penn State has scuffled without Frazier, who last season accounted for more of his team's offense than any player in the nation.
The Nittany Lions (5-4), who host Delaware State on Saturday are running out of time to find their footing since Frazier's left Achilles' tendon injury on Nov. 18 scrambled everything.
Only three games separate Penn State from its nonconference slate and the start of the Big Ten schedule. In terms of difficulty, that is like going from an open-book test to the bar exam. And a team that would have run everything through Frazier, a first-team all-Big Ten pick last season, desperately needs players like Travis to emerge.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound sophomore is athletic and versatile with a Big Ten body.
“His next step is 40 minutes — doing it for 40 (minutes) and a willingness to continue to learn and be taught the game and understand the game,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “He wants to be a big-time player, and big-time players want to be challenged, and they want to play.”
Travis scored seven of Penn State's first nine points last Saturday in a 78-70 win against Army. The Minnesota native shot the ball well and was assertive on offense. His dunk off a D.J. Newbill alley-oop pass sent a surge of energy through Bryce Jordan Center.
Travis and Penn State must hope that game proves to be a springboard for the player who has shot just 35.1 percent from the field and made only 2 of 19 3-point attempts.
“I've always had confidence,” said Travis, who is averaging 8.4 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. “I've just been waiting for the shots to fall and they're finally falling.”
Said Chambers, “I want him to play free and clear.”
The second-year coach may have more pressing concerns — ones that will make it difficult to win more Big Ten games than he did last season (four).
Newbill, an offensive-minded shooting guard who transferred from Southern Mississippi, has had to play the point in Frazier's absence. Swingman Jermaine Marshall also has handled some of the ball-handling duties.
Even more troublesome is that the Nittany Lions have not gotten much offensive production from their big men. If that doesn't change, it will only add to the difficulty Marshall and Newbill face when Penn State opens Big Ten play.
“A couple of guys have to step up and fill the spot that he left,” Newbill said. “Like Ross. He's being more aggressive.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins trade for Toronto’s Kessel; lose Martin, Comeau via free agency
- Pitt’s Boyd waives right to preliminary hearing
- Dragon boat competition canceled at Three Rivers Regatta
- FBI searching for Homestead man indicted for sex trafficking in children
- Second Pa. friar commits suicide from order under investigation in sex abuse scandal
- Steelers submit application to host Super Bowl
- Judge revokes bail for Plum High School teacher
- Marinucci sentenced to life in prison with no parole
- Donora-Webster Bridge plunges into Mon River after 106 years
- Hill District widow sues dialysis clinic for husband’s death
- Auction of Dick Scaife’s home decor brings $3.89 million