Hofstra’s Gibson Bounces Back To Form
Wendell Gibson has come out like a house on fire for the Hofstra Pride this season. The 6-7-power forward has risen to the occasion with a 14-point average and 7 rebounds to help a young Hofstra team in their quest to rise to the top in the NCAA Colonial Athletic Association. The Far Rockaway native has returned to play his style of ball but only after coming back from a rough sophomore season.
Gibson expected to be in the starting lineup in sophomore year. But Gibson and teammate Rick Apodaca, who graduated in 2003, was suspended for 14 games before the start of the 2002-2003 season after committing a violation of university policy.
"It was disheartening thing", said Gibson. "I had to sit on the bench, watch and wait to get back on the floor".
Gibson waited until he was reinstated in the 15th game of the season. Gibson started 14 of the next 15 games of the season and got support from many different people as he waited for his opportunity to play.
"My teammates and my coaches didn’t point fingers at me", Gibson remembers. They helped me a lot. My mother and my family, who is a big part of my life, were always there to support me".
As he finished the season, Gibson was not impressed with his final statistics. Working hard over the summer and fall, he wanted to improve his conditioning, which he says kept him from playing long stretches of games.
He also wanted to refine an inside game that he was most feared for when he starred at Archbishop Molloy.
Growing up, Gibson started basketball at 12, when most kids he knew had already started playing basketball at a younger age.
"I used to go to the Sorrentino Recreation Center and they had the junior tournament going on. I was interested in playing in it", Gibson recalls. He credits Stan Parker, who worked at the center for getting him to basketball. The size was no problem as Gibson was already 6’2 when he was 13 years old. The competition in those tournaments gave Gibson the love of the game that he treasures.
According to Gibson, what strengthened his resolve were the long trips to attend Archbishop Molloy High School. "It was a long trip to Briarwood. It was a hour and half trip."
"The school gave me a lot of discipline. It was a very strict structure and if you failed to follow the rules, you had to pack your bags".
Achieving many personal goals such as being named to Newsday and Daily News first team and named Queens player of the year in 2001, Gibson gives a lot of credit to legendary high school coach Jack Curran. In now his 45th year coaching at Molloy, Curran has won 6 Catholic League championships, won over 800 ballgames and has produced numerous all-stars such as Brian Winters, Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson
"We had a great relationship. He is one of my favorite coaches. He has a genuine care for the kids and cares about you as a person. He would always take the time to help us out in basketball or in the classroom".
To be successful, Gibson needs to use his post-up game to his advantage. Gibson has shot an amazing 60% from the floor this season for Hofstra, averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds a game.
The Pride may be only 6-7 but they have won two conference games and won a big game at St. John’s in Alumni Hall earlier this season. Gibson knows that this season, he will have to bring his ‘A’ game every night to give this young Hofstra team a chance to win their division and possibly win a conference championship.
"We’re trying to get better. We got to take it one game at a time to win", Gibson says.