Tournament Tales: Daniel Gibson

The month of March is a hoops junkie’s heaven, with the Cavaliers preparing for the final 10 games of the season and the NCAA Tournament barreling toward the Elite 8.

Several members of the Cavaliers family have been fortunate enough to play in the NCAA Tournament, and we’d like to bring some of their stories to life in Tournament Tales.

Last week, we spoke to Dwayne Jones, who’s St. Joe’s club went into the tourney with an undefeated regular season record. Earlier this week, it was Assistant Coach John Kuester, whose North Carolina Tarheels made it to the NCAA Finals against Marquette.

Today, it’s guard Daniel Gibson, who starred with Texas in his two years with the Longhorns. In two seasons, Boobie averaged 13.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 68 starts and was named Honorable Mention All-America by The Associated Press following his sophomore season. He set a school record for most three-point field goals made in a season (101) and was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard and was the first freshman to ever lead the Longhorns in scoring.

Gibson talks about his thoughts on his tenure at Texas and their chances in this year’s Big Dance …

You experienced the Tournament as a freshman. What are your memories from that year?

Daniel Gibson: In my freshman year, we made it to the Sweet 16. I remember that game, we were down two points to Nevada – Kirk Snyder’s team – with about 17 seconds left, I came off a screen, pulled up for a three and missed it.

Coach said I should have gone for the two. So, I guess that’s a bad memory I have from the Tournament in my freshman year, because I always thought, if that three goes in, everything’s different. But we didn’t want to wait too long, because if you miss, you want to give yourself an opportunity for a rebound.

But, hey, I was confident enough to take the shot. I just missed it.

And as a sophomore …

Gibson: In my sophomore year, we made it to the Elite 8. In the game to get to the Elite 8, my teammate made a three-pointer at the buzzer to get us there. When we got there, we played LSU – Big Baby Davis and Tyrus Thomas.

I remember, there was a crazy play – ball bouncing everywhere – there was a blocked three-pointer, I dove, tapped the ball to one of my teammates, he pump-faked and got it back to me and I hit a three-pointer at the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

But LSU came out and went on a 5-0 run and they went on to win that game.

Texas has sort of become “Point Guard U.” – putting out one great point after another. How has Rick Barnes been able to build that reputation?

Gibson: It’s kind of become the culture. Because when T.J. Ford came, he started the trend. And I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Then A.J. (Abrams) wanted to follow in my footsteps, then D.J. (Augustin) wanted to follow in our footsteps.

So, it’s like you see points over there performing well and you feel like if you’re put in that situation that they’re in, you’ll be able to do the same thing.

It’s common knowledge that strong point guard play is vital in winning the NCAA Tournament. Why?

Gibson: Because it’s so hard to prepare for games when you play one day against a team you’ve never played or prepared for, and then two days later, you’re playing another team with the same situation.

If you have a good point guard, he’s able to dictate what’s happening and control what’s out there on the floor. If you’re playing in different environments, sometimes players get rattled – it’s hard on players in different environments.

But if you have a good point guard getting guys easy shots, it makes the game a lot easier.

What do you think of your Longhorns’ chances this year?

Gibson: I really feel like we have a great opportunity to win it all.

We have the next game in Houston and then San Antonio in the Final Four. I think we have the right personnel and it makes it tough for teams to prepare for us. If we’re shooting the ball well, I think we can win it.

Where does the NCAA Tournament rank in terms of sporting events?

Gibson: It’s the greatest sporting event there is, hands down. I mean, just the excitement and every year during March Madness – crazy things happen.

I think if you’re a fan of the game, every basketball fan in America loves this time of year.