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December 14, 2006Freshman Taj Gibson may be a long way from his home in Brooklyn, NY, but the 6-9 forward is adjusting nicely to life on the west coast. Gibson is leading the team in rebounds and is averaging a double-double (points-rebounds) in his first eight games.
"I have adjusted pretty well," Gibson said after practice Wednesday. "I love the weather and people are nice, it's going good for me."
Judging by his numbers alone, Gibson certainly looks comfortable in Coach Floyd's system.
"I knew coming in that I would have to put in a lot of work in practice and listen to the coaches and absorb everything I can get," he said. "I feel comfortable. The guys are good and we are like a family."
"He has been very impressive, very impressive for a freshman," Coach Floyd said about his new forward. "We thought that he could improve us, but he has improved us more than I thought he would."
Coach Floyd's style of play also appeals to Gibson.
"He is very aggressive and he expects the most from you every time down the court," Gibson said.
His scoring has been nice, but the play on the boards has been Gibson's biggest contribution. He grabbed 18 rebounds against Long Beach State, the most by a Trojan player since 2004.
"Down the stretch against George Washington he got every defensive rebound when a year ago we were giving up second and third chance opportunities," Coach Floyd said. "He has been able to finish shots, he has been able to make hit free throws, he has a nice touch, he is a guy we can throw it to inside, something we didn't have a year ago."
As well as he is playing now, Coach Floyd knows Gibson has unlimited potential as a player.
"I think the sky's the limit for him, he is going to be a terrific player," he said. "He gained 13 pounds from when he first got in here and I think we are going to get another 20-25 on him in the next year or year and a half. I think when that happens he has a chance to be outstanding."
With Gabe Pruitt returning and the scoring of Lodrick Stewart and Nick Young to compliment Gibson, USC should be able to get their share of victories in the Pac-10.
Maybe then they will start to get more fans coming out to the beautiful brand new Galen Center.
"It is wonderful," Gibson said regarding the new arena. "I like looking up in practice and seeing all these stands, hopefully one day we will get them all filled."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on the Trojan basketball team.