As a junior, Emily Gibbons ’18 claimed D3hoops.com All-America Honorable Mention, All-Mid-Atlantic Region First Team, Centennial Conference Player of the Year, and All-Centennial Conference First Team — and became the top rebounder in Gettysburg College women’s basketball history earlier this February. She is now apart of a team during her senior season, which has won 12 in a row, lost only one conference game (two overall) — and is set to go into the conference championship tourney as the number one seed.
I had the opportunity to talk to her about her past All-American campaign as well as uncover some of the keys to the team’s dominance this season. #GibbyisGreat
Andy Milone: How do you go about preparing for new season of basketball?
Emily Gibbons: Over the summers, I workout with a trainer, who really pushes me. I workout four times a week in the morning. I do a lot of conditioning — a lot of body weight stuff. Then, I shoot whenever I can. Once I get here [in Gettysburg] for preseason, we have Sparks conditioning two days a week and team lifting — and other team activities like pick-up games.
AM: Have you seen a difference between playing your junior season and playing your first year?
EG: Definitely. The team changed. We had two seniors during my first year and three seniors during my sophomore season — and then we had no seniors last year with no upperclassmen besides me and Kendra [Meredith], who transferred in. We were the only juniors and only had four people returning all together. So it was definitely interesting to play in that role and to see the changing of the roles. I definitely had more confidence too.
AM: Was that dynamic of moving the ball around and shooting any different on the court during your junior season?
EG: Last season, it was everyone getting the ball to whoever was open. It just happened that I would be unopposed and I was in a good position and my teammates just hit me when I was open — and I was able to make pretty easy layups. That was a testament to how hard we worked to get to know each other on the court and know each others’ strengths.
AM: Are there any skills in particular that improved your junior year that led you to have a better season?’
EG: I definitely think my rebounding got better. And I think I just became more confident in my shot and confident in the opportunities that I had. I may have been more of pass first player my first-year and sophomore seasons, but then last year led to me thinking: ‘I can make that layup. I have to try.’
AM: Do you see anything in your preparation that led you this improvement?
EG: Last summer, I worked out very hard with my trainer, and I came into the season in a lot better shape than I had the previous two seasons, so my conditioning was better. With basketball, if you’re in shape, it makes things a lot easier.
AM: Do you feel as if being in shape in terms of stamina was more important, or being physically stronger, or both?
EG: Kind of both. Stamina is very important because a lot of the time, we are just sprinting up and down the court, but then we will get just 10 or 20 seconds to catch a breather when someone is shooting a free throw. But, it also makes it easier because I had more stamina to run harder and go for a rebound, or crash harder — or my legs weren’t as tired on shots, or jumping wasn’t as hard.
AM: Did you have any big expectations coming into the season after your successful junior season?
EG: I did, but our team kind of changed this year — and we have a lot more threats on the perimeter with Dorsh’ (Emma Dorshimer) and Ash’ (Ashley Gehrin) stepping up, and even Kenny (Kendra Meredith) has been shooting the ball a lot better, so I think that it’s the natural progression of players. Obviously, I would love to repeat as an All-American, but at the end of the day, if we win a conference championship with the team that we have, that’s ten times better that getting an individual award.
AM: Do you see [winning a conference championship] as realistic?
EG: I do see it as realistic. We are hosting the conference championship tournament. We are the number one seed, so we’ve beaten everyone who will be in the tournament. I think it’s realistic and a goal that we want. We also want to make the NCAA [national] tournament, so we are still playing to prove ourselves on the national stage. If we don’t win the conference tournament, we can still get an at-large bid, which is still realistic.
AM: What are some keys to success for this upcoming conference tournament? What has to be clicking?
EG: Everyone has to be ready to knock down the shots and take advantage of the opportunities that they have — and we’ve done a really good job of this all season. And, we also have to believe in the fact that we can win, and just being tough and resilient. I think we are proving that and becoming more tough and resilient throughout the season.