Gibson, Gipson similar in name, on-court aspirations
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Matt Gibson and Matt Gipson figure it will be a good thing if people get confused over their names.
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
Matt Gipson, left, is 6 foot 9 and more quiet off the court, while Matt Gibson is 6-5 and has more of an outgoing personality.
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
"I want to make a name for this team, not myself," Gipson said. "If I can help the team win games, I don't care what you call me."
Gibson and Gipson are first-year players for the Rainbow Warriors. They are both expected to contribute today when their Hawai'i-Manoa team hosts Hawai'i-Hilo in an exhibition game at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The UH coaches are distinguishing the two players by calling the 6-foot-9 Gipson "Big Matt," and the 6-5 Gibson "Little Matt."
"What else can you do?" UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "You can't say Matt because they both go by Matt. And the last names are too close, so you can't go by that."
Jim Leahey, the play-by-play voice of Hawai'i athletics for K5 television, said he will refer to Gipson as Matthew, and Gibson as Matt.
"Matthew is the bigger name, therefore it will go to the bigger guy," Leahey said. "I told them they should go into business together after basketball as speech therapists specializing in enunciation."
Full name: Lon Matthew Gibson Height: 6-5 Weight: 170 Class: Sophomore Position: Shooting guard Jersey No.: 2 Hometown: Oklahoma City, Okla. Date of birth: Oct. 2, 1984 Nicknames: Little Matt, Putnam, Matty Boy MATT GIPSON Full name: Matthew Stewart Gipson Height: 6-9 Weight: 220 Class: Junior Position: Power forward Jersey No.: 4 Hometown: Burkburnett, Texas Date of birth: June 2, 1983 Nicknames: Big Matt, Matty, Gipper
Full name: Lon Matthew Gibson
Position: Shooting guard
Jersey No.: 2
Hometown: Oklahoma City, Okla.
Date of birth: Oct. 2, 1984
Nicknames: Little Matt, Putnam, Matty Boy
Full name: Matthew Stewart Gipson
Position: Power forward
Jersey No.: 4
Hometown: Burkburnett, Texas
Date of birth: June 2, 1983
Nicknames: Big Matt, Matty, Gipper
Gibson could end the confusion if he went by his actual first name Lon. Matthew is his middle name.
"My father's name is also Lon, but that's an older guy's name to me," he said. "I've been called Matt all my life."
But so has Gipson.
The improbable union of the Matts can be traced to associate coach Jackson Wheeler, who recruited both players out of separate junior colleges.
Gipson was recruited first out of North Idaho; Gibson was discovered a few months later at Three Rivers (Mo.).
"The good thing for me was that I wasn't recruiting them at the same time," Wheeler said. "There wasn't any confusion, but I did find it a little weird to see those two names together."
Interestingly, Gibson and Gipson grew up relatively close to each other. Gibson is from Oklahoma City; Gipson is from Burkburnett in north Texas.
Their hometowns are 113 miles apart, and they are now teammates more than 3,700 miles away.
What's more, they heard about each other a few years ago when Gibson was at Putnam City High and Gipson was at the University of Oklahoma (he was at OU for two seasons before transferring to North Idaho).
"I knew about him through the newspapers and stuff," Gibson said. "When coach Wheeler told me there was also a Matt Gipson on the team, I said 'Not the Matt Gipson from OU?' I was really surprised."
Off the basketball court, they couldn't be more different. Gibson is the talkative, rambunctious Matt. Gipson is the quiet, mellow Matt.
On the court, they play different positions but share a few traits including hustle and an array of offensive skills.
Both players are still in the process of learning the intricacies of the UH offense, but both should be challenging for a starting spot this season.
"I want to get the season started already," Gibson said. "When the team starts winning, that's when we're all going to get recognized as a team. That's what matters most to me."
Wallace still undecided on starting lineup
UH head coach Riley Wallace said yesterday that he has selected only one starter for today's exhibition game against Hawai'i-Hilo junior Julian Sensley.
Sensley, a 6-9 forward, is the lone returning starter from last season's 21-12 team.
"I honestly don't know who the others will be," Wallace said. "I probably won't get any sleep tonight and decide at 3 in the morning."
In any case, all 11 of the scholarship players are expected to see action today.
WHO: Hawai'i-Manoa vs. Hawai'i-Hilo WHEN: Today, 4:05 p.m. WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center TICKETS: $15 for lower level seats; $11 for upper level adult seats; $5 for upper level student seats; $5 for Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs seats. Parking is $3. RADIO: Live on KKEA (1420 AM). Also: The UH women's basketball team will play an alumnae game at 1:30 p.m.
Men's College Basketball Exhibition
WHO: Hawai'i-Manoa vs. Hawai'i-Hilo
WHEN: Today, 4:05 p.m.
WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center
TICKETS: $15 for lower level seats; $11 for upper level adult seats; $5 for upper level student seats; $5 for Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs seats. Parking is $3.
RADIO: Live on KKEA (1420 AM).
Also: The UH women's basketball team will play an alumnae game at 1:30 p.m.
Five new scholarship recruits will play in front a crowd for the first time today as NCAA Division I players: Chris Botez, Matt Gibson, Matt Gipson, Kris Groce and Deonte Tatum.
"We know what to do, it's a matter of executing it in a game situation," said Botez, a 7-foot center. "I'm a little nervous, but I'm also excited to be in a Division I uniform."
The final result and statistics will not count for either team, but Wallace said he will still treat it like a real game.
"We have a lot of new guys, and we need to learn to play together and win as a team," Wallace said. "This is our only chance to do that before it counts, so it makes sense to look at it like a real game."
UH-Hilo is a NCAA Division II program. Head coach Jeff Law was previously an assistant at UH under Wallace for eight seasons.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com or 535-8101.