FEATURE: David Gibbs In Springfield Republican
Oct. 15, 2009
AMHERST - When Derek Kellogg arrived as University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach in 2008, he inherited an incoming guard from East Hartford, Conn., who was departing coach Travis Ford's last recruit.
"I didn't know David Gibbs," Kellogg said. "But I got to know him in a hurry."
As a freshman last fall, Gibbs averaged 3.5 points and 17.5 minutes, played aggressive defense and showed a fearlessness in clutch moments.
This year, the 6-foot-4 sophomore has a new responsibility. He is the UMass point guard, a role he embraces, even as he is still learning to play it.
"I'm getting more comfortable day by day," Gibbs said Wednesday.
"The (dribble drive motion) offense is not that complicated. The main goal is to open the court up.
"I like to get my teammates involved. I usually like to play pass-first, anyway. And I love defense."
Gibbs arrived at UMass as a "combo guard," who had played the point in AAU ball, and at the Master's School in West Simsbury, Conn.
In high school, he averaged 21 points and 10 assists per game over his last two seasons. Even so, Gibbs was considered neither a "pure" point guard nor a natural shooting guard.
"He's going to be a great player. When he's on, it's going to be hard for teams to stay with us" -UMass forward Sean Carter, on David Gibbs But whatever he was, he made his team better, just by being on the floor.
His role is now defined as never before.
"I've been working on my jump shot, on staying down during the dribble, things like that," Gibbs said.
"I've been concentrating on conditioning and weight lifting, too."
Dribble drive motion sometimes bewildered Chris Lowe, Gibbs' predecessor at the point. Gibbs has two advantages Lowe did not.
Lowe had played a different style for three years. Coming to UMass when Kellogg did, Gibbs was playing this style from Day One.
Gibbs, who is three inches taller than Lowe, can also break down a defender 1-on-1. That is a staple of dribble drive motion, and was not Lowe's forte.
"David's ballhandling is much better this year," UMass forward Sean Carter said.
"I think he's going to be a great player. When he's on, it's going to be hard for teams to stay with us."
Quiet by nature, Gibbs "has begun to come out of his shell," Kellogg said.
Vocal leadership was an issue with Lowe, especially under Ford. But Kellogg said his point guard need not be a "holler guy," as long as he leads by example.
As last season developed, Kellogg began filtering in Gibbs at the point. This year, Gibbs is crucial to a team whose only other point guard is Gary Correia, a junior backup.
As for the future, Kellogg made a recruiting pitch for Brandon Young, one of the more promising high school seniors in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area.
Young made a verbal commitment to DePaul last month. But even had Young chosen UMass, Kellogg saw Gibbs as the point guard of the future.
"David has been going hard, competing, and he's done of good job of improving both mentally and in practice," said Kellogg, a former point guard.
"I talk to him in a lot of ways, coach-to-player, guard-to-guard," the coach said.
"David has a good way about him. I am very pleased with where he is at.
"He has the right frame of mind. I think that is what is going to make him a great player."
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