By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Division II Philadelphia University is putting together yet another successful season on the hardwood as they try to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Heading into tonight’s game with Dominican College at the Gallagher Center, the Rams sit at 14-7 and 9-3 in the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference. What makes this season even more exciting in the big picture is the fact that the Rams are being led by a pair of freshman – center Peter Alexis and guard Andre Gibbs.
The 6’10” Alexis, a transfer from Penn State, has been named the CACC “Rookie of the Week” three times. In 21 games, he is averaging 12.9 points a game (third on the team) on 60% shooting from the field. A tough presence down low, he leads the squad in rebounding (8.2 a game) and blocks (two a contest).
While many first-year players hit the wall around this time of year, Alexis has instead taken his game to another level here in February , averaging 18.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in three games this month.
“Mostly just been trying to get acquainted with everybody, playing with everybody,” Alexis tells KYW Newsradio. “Then eventually started to look for my own shot a little more, getting a little bit more aggressive.”
Hall of Fame Philadelphia University head coach Herb Magee says the arrow has pointed up for Alexis all season long.
“Peter just gets better and better and better every game,” Magee says.
Magee is just as impressed with the play of the 5’8″ Gibbs.
“Andre is as good of a point guard as we’ve ever had here,” Magee says.
A Smyrna, Delaware native, Gibbs has also been named the CACC “Rookie of the Week” three times this season. He leads the Rams in scoring at 14.5 points a game and he is also the high man in assists at three a game. But you have to watch Gibbs play on a regular basis to appreciate one of his best assets – the uncanny ability to hit big shots at key moments.
“I do take pride in it,” Gibbs tells KYW Newsradio. “It’s more confidence. My teammates give me confidence to shoot the ball, and when I’m not shooting the ball they get mad at me. So it’s more confidence, it’s my coaching staff and my teammates.”
As much success as these two young players have had, they both feel like they are just starting to scratch the surface of what they can do.
“I’m a freshman, I can only get better each and every practice and each and every game,” Gibbs says.
“I feel like there’s a lot more to learn, a lot farther I can go,” Alexis says.
And that is very bad news for the rest of the CACC.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.