Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Uno En Uno With: Anthony Gibbs, Bedford Basketball

All the early morning workouts, Scrimmage Wars, and long summer afternoons at Dean Street prepared Brooklyn's Bedford Academy for games like this.

The tiny school featuring tiny guards scored a marquee 58-52 victory over Don Bosco last night in the Monsignor King Classic, improving to 14-0 on the season.

An adversary to AAU, Rob Phelps' team is predicated on in-your-grill defensive pressure and fluid angle-to-angle ball movement rife with dribble handoffs, pick-and-rolls, and countless ball screens creating perimeter space.

Playing together throughout a 12-month period, working extensively with former Bishop Loughlin head coach and shooting guru Ted Gustus, and even holding boot camp-style clinics in which they're confined to the weight room (without even touching a basketball), Bedford's cohesiveness and continuity is always established well before the season.

They vowed not to alter their game plan based on the opponent. Though they simply couldn't simulate the height, length, and athleticism of Bosco's bigs, Bedford survived several mismatches and closed up the passing lanes.

Sharpshooter Ian Roach, whose emergence as a catch-and-stick threat has earned interest from Monmouth and Columbia, poured in a game-best 18 points (four 3-pointers) to bag MVP honors.

Junior guard Anthony Munson submitted 14 points and had a game-best seven steals. Trevis Wigfall, a versatile senior combo guard, added 10 points and six steals.

Bedford stayed in a man-to-man set throughout. Even as Bosco's bigs roamed along the perimeter, they refused to go zone.

With pesky little guards Anthony Gibbs and Romello Ford providing quality defensive pressure, Bosco's routine offensive cadence was halted.

 Gibbs and Ford, both certifiable defensive pests, have been vital X-factors on a team with nary a big man in sight. Just how well the juniors would handle the uptick in responsibility was answered during Bedford's wild season-opening 62-58 win over Banneker.

A two-hour battle, which saw new-look Banneker storm back from a 20-point deficit, was an early barometer of this team's mental toughness.

 Romello sounds strikingly similar to "Carmelo," only this gritty little guard has etched his niche as a defensive threat first. Ford drew an offensive foul in that Banneker game with under a minute remaining and the game, laying out for a charge.

The win was sealed when Gibbs pick-pocketed a guard with 10.3 seconds remaining, the final jab of  a dizzying and chippy affair.

That's a reality check for Bedford. They have the four-guard look, a la the 2006 Villanova team with Mike Nardi and Randy Foye.

Yet without a true post presence, they must win with heightened pressure and box out at a maniacal rate. That's become their identity.

Though they've got a go-to-guy in Munson and a knockdown shooter in Roach, Bedford knows it will start and end with defense.

Munson, a three-year starter, gave an accurate account of himself in the 70-41 dumping of St. Edmonds, scoring a game-best 20 points.

Wigfall, who has met his coaches' demands to stay engaged throughout four quarters, scored 12 points, dished four assists, and had seven steals.

We caught up with Gibbs, the team's point guard and a high honor roll student at the academically-enriched school, in this week's Uno En Uno:

Gibbs On The Bosco Win 

The key was definitely our defense throughout the whole game. That's really a result of all the conditioning we do in practice and in the off-season. 

On classmate and lifelong teammate Anthony Munson

Munson's play down the stretch has been very critical to us. Munson is who we go to when we need a crucial bucket. There's no secret about that. He gets it for us a lot of the time. He has become a top-tier talent simply because of his killer instinct and his want to score in high-pressure moments. Because of his killer instinct, he's learned how to take over the game before it's too late. 

On Team Aspirations

The end goal is nothing less than a city championship. Beating a great team like Don Bosco was a good way to end the season. We set immediate goals and being undefeated before the break and heading into 2015 was one of them. 

On The Game Plan

Coach Phelps told us before the Bosco game that this opponent was another obstacle on our journey. He told us that we had to gang rebound and we had to play the help side when they throw it in the post and rotate and put pressure on their guards to make them uncomfortable. 

On His Favorite Class At Bedford 

My favorite class at Bedford would be physics because I like science and math and physics is basically those two subjects in one.