Freshman takes lead at guard

Jeff Russ

A year ago at this time, Stephanie Gibson was bringing the ball up court for the successful North Canton Hoover high school girl’s basketball program.

Today, she is in a similar role, except now she is expected to bring the ball up court in a bigger gym, with bigger crowds and bigger, faster players going up against her.

When the season starts 2 p.m. Sunday at the M.A.C. Center against St. Bonaventure, it will be Gibson, a freshman point guard, bringing the ball up the court for the Golden Flashes.

“Stephanie Gibson will be our starting point guard,” coach Bob Lindsay said. “She’s learning the game, she’s learning a new system, and she’s learning what my expectations are. It’s going to take her a while to learn that, and I would expect that she’s going to be much better player February and March than she is right now. “

With a lot of turnaround, including the loss of four starters, Gibson has a lot of expectations, and must learn a new program in a limited amount of time. The early scrimmages taught her a lot about what she still has to learn.

“It’s a total different pace,” Gibson said. “There’s no stopping, you have to go 24/7, full go, no lagging on defense or jogging up and down the court.”

Prior to Kent State, Gibson learned the game of basketball at Hoover High School, earning

All-Ohio status her junior and senior seasons. She expects to be a threat from 3-point range, already hitting a number of shots from behind the arc during preseason scrimmages. Gibson is also described as a very fast guard. She said knowing the game is very important in making the adjustment from high school to Division I basketball.

One of the biggest things she’s learned since arriving at Kent State is trust in those who already are on the team.

“You’ve got to listen to the upperclassmen and listen to what coach says and apply it to the best of your ability,” she said.

Along with Gibson, junior guard Asheley Harkins and sophomore guard Rachel Bennett expect to start in the backcourt.

“For us to be successful, our guards will need to provide defensive consistency and show season-long improvement,” Lindsay said. “They will need to be able to score in transition and deliver the ball to open players.”

The experienced players have helped Gibson make the adjustment and get her ready to play this season.

“The upperclassmen have helped tremendously,” she said. “When coach is yelling at me, they’re always there to cheer me up or tell me what I did wrong. There is a lot of encouragement and they are being leaders.”

Gibson says she is ready to play, and it starts for her Sunday.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].