Report Card: Zack Gibson

Dylan Burkhardt

Previously: Stu Douglass (B-), Zack Novak (B), Laval Lucas-Perry (C), Manny Harris (A), DeShawn Sims (A)

O Rtg Usage MPG PPG RPG FG% eFG% 3PT%
97.1 20.2% 12.1 3.9 2.2 48.4% 51.2% 23.3%

Zack Gibson continues to leave Michigan fans scratching their head and longing for more. He manages to display just enough of his potential every couple games to make you realize that he could play at this level. The problem is that those flashes of potential are nothing more than a tease.  At 6-foot-10 he has enough ability to be a valuable asset in the Beilein offense but he just can’t turn his skill set into consistent production.

In a year that was defined by improvement across the board, Zack Gibson managed to take a step backwards. Zack regressed in almost every statistical category: minutes per game (13.9 to 12.1), offensive rating (106.2 to 97.3), eFG% (52.4 to 51.2), free throw percentage (72.2 to 50.0), points per game (5.4 to 3.9), and rebounds per game (2.8 to 2.2). The most frustrating part of Zack’s regression is the fact that, with Ekpe Udoh’s departure, there was ample opportunity for him to step up and become a contributor.

As we are all too aware, Michigan desperately needed size inside last year. With a 6-foot-8 starting center and a 6-foot-4 starting power forward there was plenty of minutes available for a 6-foot-10 big man. Zack didn’t necessarily seize the moment, he played more than 15 minutes in only 6 games last year (Duke #1, UConn, Northwestern (OT), Illinois, and UCLA). This was partly because he never played alongside DeShawn Sims but mostly because he didn’t produce when he was on the court.


Zack’s first problem was that he couldn’t stay on the floor without picking up silly fouls. He averaged 4.9 fouls per 40 minutes, the highest mark on the team with only CJ Lee and Dave Merritt breaking the 4 fouls per 40 minutes barrier. A high number makes sense for Lee, the team’s most aggressive defender, and Merritt, who almost always was facing a more athletic guard. Gibson just couldn’t seem to avoid cheap fouls.

When Zack was in the game he tried his best to make himself noticed. He used more of his possessions (20.2%) than anyone on the team beside Manny, DeShawn, and Laval. However, Gibson’s 97.1 offensive rating was the third lowest on the team, only ahead of Anthony Wright and Dave Merritt. For those unfamiliar with tempo free stats, ideally you want the players with the highest offensive rating to be the ones using the most possessions. Gibson’s statistics are just the opposite, he was near the bottom in terms of efficiency and the top in terms of usage.

Anyone that watched Zack play would guess that he didn’t shoot the ball well from long range last year. His 23% three point shooting percentage was absolutely dreadful. After shooting under 30% in each of his two years in the Maize & Blue, it’s hard to encourage Zack to launch anymore up from behind the arc.

There are a couple positives to point out on Zack’s statistical profile. He actually shot a very high percentage on 2 point field goal attempts, his 56.5 2pfg% was the best on the team. This is all the more reason that Zack needs to start shooting more shots from inside rather than outside. Zack also did a great job blocking shots while he was in the game, his 7% block percentage was more than double DeShawn’s 2.9%.

Shining Moments

  • vs. Illinois — 10 points on 4 of 5 (1-1 3pt) shooting, 1 assist, and a block
    There is no doubt that this was Zack’s best performance of the year. Gibson iced the win when he blew past Tisdale and finished with a slam with 4 minutes to play (the biggest snub of the plays of the year poll). Zack scored 8 of his 10 points in the second half and was the difference between Michigan winning and losing. This Illinois game is often overlooked but it turned out to be one of Michigan’s more important wins of the year.
  • at UConn — 7 points on 3-6 shooting (1-3 3pt), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
    After this game I commented on how impressed I was with Zack’s effort against UConn’s bigs. The numbers aren’t overwhelming but Zack played hard and gave Michigan productive minutes. A back-up big man doesn’t need to provide scoring, they need to not hurt the team and try to provide a boost with some energy. Michigan obviously lost this game, but it was still one of their more impressive performances of the year.
  • NCAA Tournament
    -Clemson –
    10 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, and a block
    Oklahoma – 14 minutes, 5 points (2-4 fg), 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
    Another two games that weren’t the most impressive on paper but two that convinced me that Zack might be starting to turn the corner. Clemson and Oklahoma were both tough inside but Zack battled against the likes of Blake Griffin and Trevor Booker in a way that we have only seen occasionally. He scrapped and hustled and gave Michigan a lift in two games where DeShawn Sims was invisible at times.

Final Grade: D+

Overall it was a disappointing year for Zack. He had all the opportunity in the world to take on a bigger role but he just didn’t step up. Will he turn the corner before his senior year? Perhaps the competition in the frontcourt with Cronin, Morgan, and McLimans will help push him along but I’m having a hard time seeing it. Despite Zack’s solid play in Kansas City, at some point you have to stop saying that a fifth year senior has potential and start to admit that he is what he is.

This site is supported by donations

Like what you see? Click the button below to donate and access exclusive content.

  • Tom Too

    My comment on this is I have no comment….fair grade.

  • :_(

  • Kenny

    Fair grade, but I have not lost hope on Zack Gibson yet.

  • Tweeter

    I actually think this grade is a little low. Maybe it is just that my expectations for Gibson were very low coming into the season. I agree that for most of the year his only contributions were fouls and getting out fought for rebounds. But in the latter part of the year I thought he played well. He even seemed to battle more on the boards. At the end, he was what I thought he was. So for that I would have given him a C. But maybe its just my expectations and Im an easy grader.

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    Totally agree. With Udoh leaving this was Gibson’s chance to step up and he failed. I hope that he is replaced by the likes of McLimans, Morgan and Cronin next season. Time to see what somebody else can bring to the table.

  • michael

    I’m with Tweeter. Fair write up, but perhaps a slightly higher grade. I thought Zach came on at the end of the season. I also think those people are nuts who were rooting for Zach to give up (or be forced to give up) his final year of eligibility to free up a scholarship. We are expecting Big Ben to come through next year, and I suspect he will be an adequate center, but it is unlikely that he will be significantly better than Zach, who will have 3 years of Big Ten experience under his belt. There is no way I would want to get a scholarship a year early just so we can get some 3 star freshman center to ride the bench and get schooled in the rough and tumble world of Big Ten basketball. Zach was a 3 star recruit, by the way, and even if he hasn’t quite lived up to potential, he does have some skills and now lots of experience. He will be a contributor next year.

  • Ken in Vegas

    He’s just so darn replaceable. That’s all I can really think about him. He also struck me as someone who was just as good his first year as his last. If you aren’t improving with JB at the helm, then you may just not have the heart. I honestly don’t know much about him off the court, so it would be interesting if anybody has some insight.

  • Ryan F

    I went right down to the grade before reading the write-up, and right away I thought it was a little harsh. But as I read the write-up and looked at the facts I have to say it is probably a fair grade…although I would probably give a C-. I do recall throughout this past season often feeling disappointed by Gibson’s play, especially after what I thought was a pretty encouraging redshirt sophomore season. But he did have some big moments in some big games, and I think that’s why I’d give a C-.

    Also, to be fair to Zack, and it seems counterintuitive, but Udoh leaving actually created situation where there weren’t as many minutes available. With Cronin and Udoh out that left only two viable big men (Sims and Gibson), and JB couldn’t play them at the same time because he needed at least one of those guys on the floor at all times. And since Sims is obviously the more valuable player and had to be on the floor as much as possible, Gibson’s minutes got squeezed and I think he had a hard time finding a rhythm. With increased depth this year and the ability to play multiple combinations up front, I think Gibson can look more like the player from 2007-2008.

  • jim

    Man oooooooooo man, I’m just glad I didn’t have Dylan teaching any of my classes. Not sure I would have ever made it out of the first grade.

    Personally would grade Zack out in the C range. Part of his drop in production, essentially insignificant for the most part, was due to the elevated play of Sims. Fact is Sims made huge strides this year and as a result relegated Zack to less PT.

  • ToBlav

    Zach made nice plays, proving he can play. The next step is to be consistant, which he didn’t achieve. That should be his goal and is my hope for him for next year. It seems unlikely that he’ll reach the third step in the progression, which would be taking his game up a level. I think he will contribute but probably doesn’t have a big up side. Using Dylan’s scale with LLP a C, Zach can’t be higher than C-. If the scale were any higher many would be saying it is too soft. Thanks Dylan, for all the work and thought that goes into this.

  • jim

    I agree with you ToBlav. Dylan does a great job. Also agree with a grade in the same range as LLP. Both of these guys need to step it up now, during the summer and into next year.

  • Fred

    C’mon man. D+ is low.

  • jmblue

    I think I would have given him about a C or C-, but it’s nitpicking. I do think that Gibson’s reduced minutes (a function of JB not wanting to use up both bigs at once) made it hard for him to get into a rhythm and maybe caused him to press a bit (leading to the high usage rating). He has a nice touch and really should be in the 30-35% range from 3 and 75-80% range at the line. If he can stroke it that well he could become a real asset. Now that we have better post depth, I’d like to see Gibson play alongside Sims. I think they complement each others’ games pretty well.

  • Avery Queen

    Agree with the grade, only thing I thought worth mentioning is that he might get a chance to share the court with Sims next year versus just being a back up (at least versus lengthy opponents). Maybe he would be better in that scenario.

  • Crazy Eyes

    Zach was a convenient player to fill a void. Unfortunately he only filled it instead of taking it over as do players do who are given the opportunity to shine. Zach just doesn’t have the talent to take his game to the next level. I always remarked when watching him that he was just a clumsy and awkward out there. All I hope for is that Cronin is the answer.

  • davidb

    Zach’s grade while maybe a little low, the review was spot on. That being said, im rooting like hell for the kid. C’mon Zach have a great senior season, cause if by chance it happens, we are in business!

  • cb2009

    Come on…D+? Gibson wasn’t counted on to be a scoring threat but in his limited action he seriously changed some games on the defensive end. I would bet that if someone calculated out his blocks/min it would certainly be comparable, if not better, than Udoh’s was. This is of course a different issue all together since Udoh saw more action. Also that break away dunk when he fell on his ass was priceless.

  • Stu Douglass: B-
    Zack Novak: B
    Laval Lucas-Perry: C
    Manny Harris: A
    DeShawn Sims: A
    Zack Gibson: D+

    The grades weren’t so much about what was expected but what kind of player the person was. Gibson gave us good minutes in stretches but I wouldn’t say that he changed many games on the defensive end. He made some solid plays for stretches but he just didn’t get it done.

  • cb2009

    I would agree that he didn’t “get it done” in terms of the fact that he obviously had a lineup slot opened that was a perfect fit for him, and he didn’t seize the opportunity. I don’t know.. I’d say LLP may have been more detrimental to us over the course of the year if not for a miraculous bounce against IU and that hot streak in Minn. That’s why I’d say I’d grade him higher..he was a change of pace defensively, our only shot blocking threat, and didn’t turn it over like LLP sometimes did.

  • Dtrain

    What’s goin on w/ his shorts in that picture, seriously? Was he gettin aroused from that dunk?

  • V.O.R.

    Every coach knows what they have on their bench, and they use them according to their ability to produce. If a coach feels that a player has skills then the player gets on the floor “somehow,” the coach finds playing time for him. If not, then they stay on the bench. Nuff said! I agree with the grade.

  • Pingback: Position by Position: Center | UM

  • Jude Stambone

    Zack Gibson is completely under-used, he is Coach B.’s biggest mistake. He and Sims should be playing together. It is so difficult to watch the team because of this mistake.