Anyone who follows this site or the podcast knows, I am a Temple “T.J.” Gibbs fan. He was my breakout player pick two years ago (nailed it!), and I went so far as to name him #3 on the returning players list last season. Juuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside on that second one. This year however, I am confident with Notre Dame’s Temple Gibbs as my pick at #9.
As stated, Gibbs broke out in 2017-18 jumping from a 15 minute per game guy off of the Irish bench that averaged 4.7 points per game, to one of the best shooters in the ACC, averaging 15.3 points per game. Last season, I expected another (smaller) jump as Gibbs took the leadership reigns from the departed Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell. Instead, we saw a good bit of regression as teams keyed on Gibbs defensively. His 31.8% three point percentage was worse than his freshman campaign, and he became only the third ACC player since 1992-93 to attempt north of 350 field goals and shoot less than 35% from the field. I know, I am making a really strong case for this guy to be at #9, aren’t I?
Well, just like with M.J. Walker earlier on this countdown, I believe in Temple Gibbs (yes, that’s from The Dark Knight). If you simply watch Gibbs play, you can see that he has the ability, if not always the mindset, of a premier scorer. It should also be noted that it wasn’t just T.J. who struggled shooting last season as the entire Notre Dame roster really floundered from deep for whatever reason. Whether it be youth, chemistry or just plain bad luck, the 2018-19 Irish were the worst three point shooting team of the Mike Brey era at 31.5%. Considering this is a program that has shot 37% or better more often than not in the era, my money is on a bounce back.
The video is from Gibbs’ sophomore campaign. You did not see him attacking the rim like this very often last season.
My expectation this season is that Prentiss Hubb will fully take over point guard duties in South Bend, allowing Gibbs to hunt his shot off the ball a bit more effectively and eliminate him shooting off of the bounce. It should also provide him with more opportunities to get to the rim and hopefully, the free throw line. A career 81% free throw shooter, Gibbs attempted over 25% fewer shots from the stripe last season than in 2017-18.
To me, this all suggests that we will see some regression back to the mean. If Gibbs returns to his sophomore form, it makes this years Fighting Irish squad even more dangerous.