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Gibson sure where's he's going

February 11, 2002

Gibson sure where's he's going



By BOB PARASILITI
bobp@herald-mail.com


EMMITSBURG, Md. - Rodney Gibson is finding out first hand the benefits of a high school experience.

In his days on the basketball court at St. Maria Goretti, Gibson was a versatile, Mr. Inside-Mr. Outside for the Gaels. His positioning changed, but when a basket was needed, Gibson was the final answer.

Now a diploma and a scholarship offer later, Gibson is starting as a shooting forward for St. Francis (Pa.) University. He starts on the outside, but has the ability to play the inside for the Red Flash.

But maybe more importantly, Gibson is no longer is the last resort. Instead, he's a starting point for the revitalization of the St. Francis program.

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"We wanted to build our team around the freshmen," St. Francis coach Bobby Jones said. "From day one, Rodney has been appreciative to be playing at the Division I level and at St. Francis. He's not easily distracted from that and it shows. He can make the big plays for you."

Jones is shooting for the stars with Gibson and his class of five freshmen. But the rangy 6-foot-5 Gibson seems as unassuming of Jones' plans for his future as he was about his success at Goretti.

"The season hasn't been going as well as I'd like, but it's been fun," Gibson said Friday before St. Francis' shootaround practice at Mount Saint Mary's Knott Arena. "It feels good to be starting and playing. (Jones) has a lot of confidence in me, but I'm not sure what he has planned for me."

For now, Jones would like Gibson to get a season of seasoning to prepare for the next three years.

The reigning Baltimore Catholic League MVP is one of two players to start all 22 games of the Red Flash's season, including Saturday's near-homecoming at Mount Saint Mary's.

He has used his opportunity to become St. Francis' third-leading scorer and rebounder at 10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Despite the success, Gibson still reminds everyone of his freshman status with his inconsistent outings, scoring 15 points one game and coming back with just one basket the next.

"The pace here is much different than in high school," Gibson said. "The difference is strength. You have to hit the weights and the game is more mental here. That took time to adjust to. Sometimes, I think I lose focus during a game. I'm not used to it all yet and there are a lot of other things going on."

Despite St. Francis' struggles, including a seven-game losing streak heading into the Mount game, Jones says the Red Flash is paying the price now for success down the road.

And Gibson will be a big part of the turnaround, especially if he can get some help.

"Rodney is big enough to play the 3 or the 4 (either forward) poistions," Jones said. "I anticipate him to be a four-year starter but the thing that will help him is if we can play him next to a leader. He is not that guy. He's not the one to get in someone's face in the huddle and challenge them to play. But he can go out there and score 20 points a game. We want to take that burden away from him. Next year, we will have a player like that."

It's all part of the process of turning Goretti's proven finisher into St. Francis' starting point to rebuilding a successful program.

"I'm happy with where I'm at," Gibson said. "I'm happy to be playing at a Division I school and I love all my teammates and the coaching staff here. I can see me being here for all four years. I'm going to wait until after the season is over before I say if I accomplished everything I wanted to do. There is still more for me to do."

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