By Andy Hogue
VCU forward Bria Gibson has been cracking the Rams’ starting lineup with regularity of late, and there are plenty of reasons why that’s good for the Black and Gold.
Yes, the sophomore from Columbia, Maryland leads the team with a 62.2 field goal percentage and 5.4 rebounds per game. She’s also taking advantage of opportunities at the charity stripe, shooting a team-high 77.8 percent. But it’s her high-energy play style, in addition to scooping up all those rebounds, that has allowed her to stand out on the court.
“I feel the team needs those key things to be where we want to be,” said. “I feel like that is what I’m very good at.”
Gibson started her first game when the Rams traveled to Campbell on Nov. 19. Gibson did not start the Rams’ first two games, so she was surprised to get the call against Campbell. It wasn’t until the team’s shootaround that day she learned she’d be starting.
ìI went in to work as hard as I could,î she said. ìThis time around, I knew what I needed to work on specifically. I think that was the adjustment I made to make me a better player.î
“I was wearing a starting color, and one of the coaches looked over at me and winked at me and I was like, ‘uh-oh I’m going to be starting this game.’ I was kind of surprised.”
Gibson says she appreciates head coach Beth O’Boyle in giving her the chance to show what she can do.
“I feel like [O’Boyle’s] decision to start me shows that she has a lot of confidence in me. Since she trusted me with that role I was able to trust myself and go out and do what I had to do. She told me to go out there and get rebounds and be confident.”
O’Boyle feels that Gibson made progress and had shown that she deserved a chance at the starting role.
“We’re excited about the progress that Bria has made this year,” said O’Boyle. “She worked hard over the summer and has improved greatly on both the offensive and defensive sides. She plays with a ton of energy and passion.”
Last season as a freshman, Gibson averaged 3.7 minutes per game over the 15 games in which she appeared, without a start. Though she did not see much time on the court, Gibson showed sparks of potential. She averaged 10.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per 40 minutes.
Gibson went into this offseason not knowing what role she would play on this year’s squad. However, what she did know was how she would prepare.
“I went in to work as hard as I could,” she said. “This time around, I knew what I needed to work on specifically. I think that was the adjustment I made to make me a better player.”
Playing in college can require a big adjustment for some players coming out of high school. As a freshman, Gibson found it hard at first to process the speed of the game and realized that the college game was going to be much more physical. Gibson realized she needed to adapt.
“The hard part of the transition was the pace,” Gibson said. “Playing in college is so much faster than high school. I’m also not the biggest on the floor anymore, so I had to become a more versatile player.”
Gibson hopes her contributions continue to help the team get better as the team prepares for conference play in January.
“As a whole we are coming together very well. We have a lot of scorers and defensive players. It’s starting to show in games when we keep our composure. I’m really excited for conference play.”
The Rams, who reached the Atlantic 10 Conference semifinals a year ago, will be counting on Gibson, and others, to stay in the league race. She says she’s ready to play whatever role O’Boyle offers.
“I want to help contribute to everyone else’s success.”