Hokie basketball fans should be excited about Justin Bibbs. He’s big, he’s bad, and he’s young. Perhaps that’s the most exciting part about him thus far; that he’s going to be around for a while. A sophomore that has started every game this season, Bibbs has been a key contributor since day 1, scoring at least 8 points in every game so far this season. It’s easy to look at numbers and say, “11.4 points per game, that’s pretty good for a sophomore. Oh, wow and he’s 65% from beyond the arc, that’s impressive!” The scary thing is that he’s on an upward trend. Let’s compare his stats from last year to the months of November and December this year real quick, and you tell me when you notice the pattern.
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Do you see it? That upward trend? Two things stand out to me here besides improvement on already pretty decent numbers. 1) A 72.2 three-pointer percentage is absurd and definitely not something that should be expected to increase any higher. And 2) His minutes played. For a sophomore, 33 minutes per game is a lot. It shows that Coach Williams trusts Bibbs and relies on him to be a key contributor throughout the game. I do expect this number to remain pretty consistent for the remainder of the year, barring an injury.
Dec 5, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Justin Bibbs (10) defends Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions guard Austin Cox (13) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 80-45. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Not many people follow FIBA U19 Basketball, but Bibbs was a member of the 2015 USA men’s team this year who won 7 straight games in route to winning gold for the second straight year. The event was hosted in Greece this summer. Bibbs wasn’t a key contributor to the US team, but did see a solid amount of playing time in group play. Regardless of his numbers at the event, it was great exposure for him and surely played a part in the drastic improvements in his stats from last year to this year so far.
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So what should Bibbs be focused on improving? I’d answer that with two things: free throws and assists. He’s 7-17 from the free throw line, which comes to 41.2%… Anyone else confused by this? He’s more efficient from three than from the free throw line!? 17 free throw attempts also isn’t very many. Perhaps he’s not driving to the hoop, drawing fouls because he’s been so efficient from three, and hasn’t mastered the free throw game, but if he does become more comfortable with it, it would be a huge addition to his game, and would make him absolutely lethal. As for assists, he just really hasn’t had many. At 8 total this year, he’s averaging less than one per game, which for a guard, is disappointingly low. Last year, he average twice as many per game.
The Hokies are on a two game winning streak, with three winnable games against Lamar, Grambling State, and St. Joseph’s coming up, it’s going to be key that Gibbs continues to perform well. Having momentum going into the daunting four game stretch that follows (#14 West Virginia, NC State, #10 Virginia, at #8 Duke) will be key and could really dictate what kind of season the Hokies end up having. Needless to say, Gibbs will be a crucial player during these games. He’ll need to have the poise of a veteran, but so far this year nothing has pointing to him playing any other way.