Can State Slow Down Frazier?

Can State Slow Down Frazier?

NC State will open the 2012 Puerto Rico Tipoff with a matchup against Penn State, and Mark Gottfried knows that his team will have their hands full with the Nittany Lions.

NC State will open the 2012 Puerto Rico Tipoff with a matchup against Penn State, and Mark Gottfried knows that his team will have their hands full with the Nittany Lions.

"They are a typical Big Ten team in that they are very physical," said Gottfried. "They defend in a very physical way. They are not a team that is trying to score 80 or 90 points a night, it will be a deliberate attack.

"I think they are very physical, very strong, and execute their offense really well. I think they would probably want to play the game in the 50s and 60s, and we would probably like to play in the 70s and 80s."

The go-to player for Penn State is talented senior point guard Tim Frazier, a 2012 first-team All-Big Ten selection. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder opened the season with 23 points, six assists, and four rebounds in the 65-58 win over St. Francis (PA).

"[Tim] Frazier is very good," said Gottfried. "He puts a lot of pressure on you because he's always got the ball in his hands and he's always looking to score... he shot 18 foul shots in their first game as a guard.

"Lorenzo will probably get the first nod at him. He's the point guard. Lorenzo has a lot of experience, but I think Rodney could find himself guarding him at times."

Where NC State should have an advantage against Penn State is in the frontcourt. The Nittany Lions start two forwards up front in Ross Travis and Jon Graham who both check in at 6'6 and 6'8 respectively.

The Wolfpack's starting forwards, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell, often do very well against similarly-sized big men, and both are off to a fast start this season. Leslie and Howell combined to score 27 points and grab 18 rebounds in the opener, while missing just two shots between them.

Gottfried remarked that he has been impressed with the chemistry they have going right now.

"I think [C.J. and Richard] do a nice job of looking for one another," he said. "I thought against Miami (OH) they were very good passing the ball to each other.

Defensively, they've played together a lot, they know each other... I think both guys are really unselfish. Neither one of those two guys are hunting shots in a selfish way, they are trying to figure out what is best for the team. I think they do have a good chemistry."

The Wolfpack will take on Penn State at 5:00 pm and the winner advances in the tournament to play the winner from the Providence-UMass matchup on Friday.

Obviously State is the heavy favorite to win the tournament, they are the only ranked team, but Gottfried knows his team must use the Puerto Rico Tipoff as a means to improve.

"Anytime you get to play in an early-season tournament against good competition I think it helps your team," he said. "We're going to play good teams on consecutive days, so there is always a challenge there, but more than anything I like playing good teams.

"We're like a lot of teams, we're still learning those things. When you play good teams, you're forced to learn more about your team than when you're not... I just hope we keep getting better."

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