February 11, 2007

The men in the women's games

By: Michelle Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

When Jonathan Gibbs found out from a friend two years ago that the Stanford women's basketball team was looking for male practice players, he had two thoughts:

It seemed like an appealing opportunity for him to play organized basketball and feel like part of a team, something he wasn't getting out of pick-up and intramural games.

And he wasn't good enough.

"I didn't think I could do it," said Gibbs, who played basketball at El Camino High in Los Angeles. "They were ranked fifth in the country at the time, and I thought, 'They don't need me.' " But Gibbs, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, has proven a worthy adversary, particularly for the Cardinal's trio of post players, Brooke Smith, Kristen Newlin and Jayne Appel. Gibbs works under the basket against all three players regularly. He doesn't win every battle. He's got a scar on his face from one of Newlin's elbows.

"They are bigger than I am, and better-skilled, but I know they don't enjoy having me guard them," Gibbs said. "I can rebound and make them run. They know I'm here to make them better." (More ...)

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