Whatever the formula was for Penn State to have a chance to exceed meager expectations this season, it likely didn't include a mid-November season-ending injury to the Nittany Lions' best player.
Guard Tim Frazier, who averaged 21.7 points and 5.0 assists in three games this season, suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon in the team's loss to Akron on Sunday in Puerto Rico. The school announced Tuesday that the senior will have surgery later in the day and will miss the remainder of the season.
"Tim is a tremendous player, a great team leader and just a fantastic young man who put a ton of hard work into having a terrific senior season," Penn State coach Pat Chambers said in a statement. "I have no doubt he will meet this challenge and will again be one of the top players in the nation."
The silver lining for Penn State is Frazier is a candidate for a medical redshirt should he choose to apply for one. With the core of this year's team back for the 2013-14 season, Frazier still in the fold and the rest of the Big Ten likely to take some hits from graduation or early defections, perhaps the Nittany Lions could climb toward respectability next year.
In the meantime, however, life without Frazier promises to be difficult.
Penn State, which lost 20 games last season and needed overtime to survive Providence with Frazier in the lineup, was outscored 53-24 in the second half by Akron after Frazier went down. Surely the Nittany Lions will be more effective when they're not shell-shocked by the sight of their best player getting hurt, but that still doesn't bode well for their hopes of being competitive in the nation's best conference.
The realistic goal for this season for Penn State now should be for guys like sophomores D.J. Newbill and Ross Travis and junior Jermaine Marshall to develop as much as possible this season. That way if Frazier returns at full strength next season, he'll have a stronger supporting cast around him.