Gibson, Evansville learning as they go

CINCINNATI — Tuesday night was another night of learning for

Duane Gibson, Jr. There will be a lot of learning experiences for the

Cleveland native and they will be on the fly. “Boo” Gibson will have

plenty of company on the University of Evansville basketball team; the

Purple Aces have just one junior and no seniors among its rotation of

players.

Xavier beat Evansville 63-60 Tuesday

night at the Cintas Center. Evansville had a 13-point lead with 12:03

left to play, but the Musketeers rallied for the win by turning up the

heat with their full-court press. It was a tough night for Gibson. He

did score eight points and he handed out five assists, right on his

season averages of 8.9 points and 5.3 assists, but he also committed

four turnovers and had foul trouble in the second half that limited him

to playing just 10 of the final 20 minutes.

The

loss dropped Evansville to 6-4. All of the losses have come on the road

and against high quality opponents — Indiana, Ohio, Murray State and

now Xavier. The losses to IU and OU were blowouts. The Murray State and

Xavier games were decided by a combined five points.

Learning experiences.

“We

will take this game as a positive,” said Gibson. “We’ve got to get in

the gym and work on our mistakes, work on executing and valuing the

ball… When they turn up the pressure, we have to execute better. Coach

was saying to focus more because of the crowd and everything. We have to

focus on our objective to win.”

Gibson knows

about winning. He was a first-team All-Ohio selection and led Villa

Angela-St. Joseph to its fifth OHSAA state championship last March,

scoring 22 points to go along with eight assists, eight rebounds and

three steals in an 87-63 victory over Leipsic in the Division IV title

game. He went from being a 5-10 sophomore learning how to play the

position from VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak to a 6-3 “consummate point guard”

in the words of Kwasniak to the Cleveland Plain Dealer last March.

His role is the same at Evansville.

“He’s

been great,” said Evansville coach Marty Simmons. “I think he’s a heck

of a player. Any success we’ve had he’s played a huge part in it. He’s

such a terrific young man. He, like all of the freshmen, I’m sure he’s

learning a lot every day. He comes to practice every day with a great

attitude. He comes from a great family, a great basketball family back

in high school. He’s a giver. He’s a pass-first scorer. He rebounds the

ball so well. We’ve certainly asked a lot of him at an early age and

he’s responded.”

The Missouri Valley Conference

preseason poll picked the Purple Aces to finish sixth in the league.

Given the makeup of the roster, so heavily reliant upon freshmen and

sophomores, that’s not a bad spot in a conference that features Wichita

St., a Final Four participant last season and ranked No. 12 in the AP

poll and No. 8 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

The

Purple Aces lost four starters off of last season’s 21-win team. Gibson

has started all of his team’s 10 games. He is the team leader in

assists for a team that leads the MVC in assists. He’s had at least four

assists in eight of those 10 games, including back-to-back games with

double-digit assist totals. He’s the first Evansville player to do that

since 1989.

He also already has his first career

double-double, scoring 12 points with 10 assists in a 100-92 win against

Valparaiso.

Boo Gibson is having a good start to his college learning experience.

“I’m

having a lot of fun,” said Gibson. “I know that we’ll grow every day

and get better every day. We have leaders on this team, just not

seniors. We’ve got (sophomore) Adam Wing and (junior) Jaylon Moore who

are real good leaders.”