April 5, 2009

Thompson looks ahead, but concentrates on the present even more

April 5, 2009

Santa Clara's red-shirt freshman Scott Thompson played in 26 games this past season, shadowing West Coast Conference Player of the Year John Bryant in practice and spelling him in games. Thompson scored less than a point a game and 1.2 rpg, but he knows his best times are ahead of him and couldn't wait to get back to campus after break to get started.

Get to know Scott Thompson, a 7'0, 245lb. center from Meridan, Idaho.

SCU: How was your break? Excited to be back on campus?

ST: Being home was really fun. I got to see my family and it was nice to be home for more than 2-3 days because that is the usual break. It was nice to be able to relax a little bit, but by the end of the break I was so excited to get back because I can't wait for next year. I went and played pick-up at Boise State with some friends who go to school there, relaxed, and had family dinners with the grandparents. I slept in until 12 or 1 pm most days and then went and lay on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. I got a massage on Sunday right before we got started so I was fresh and ready.

SCU: So, now you are back on campus, in class and doing individual workouts. What do you look forward to most this spring?

ST: I want to get better. I want to get back into playing again. Next year the pace of the game is going to speed up a lot so I am trying to do a lot of conditioning. I am working hard in the weight room to put on more weight.

SCU: Any goals?

ST: I had the weight goal of 260 pounds, but now that I have worked on it some - it's more about overall strength and not the weight. I don't have a goal yet.

SCU: What else are you looking forward to?

ST: I am with Marc Trasolini or Ben Dowdell in my individuals and we are working hard on ball handling and shooting. One of my main goals is working on getting lower so I can post up better. First, I have to get in the weight room and get my legs stronger; and then in individuals I will stay low and stay on balance.

Coach Ware and I were working this past week on post moves. It was good. I don't have a go to move right now so he is trying to get me to have some move and also have a counter move. I have a jump hook and an up and under to counter that. I also have a turnaround jump shot I am working on.

SCU: Is it about having confidence to make those shots in games? How do you get that confidence?

ST: I would say the repitition in practice gives you confidence. The repetition builds confidence so in a game I won't even think about it going in because I have done it so many times in practice. That is something I am working on, but I will really work hard on that in the summer.

SCU: Do you love playing basketball and is that necessary?

ST: There is nothing I would rather being doing with my life. It's an 11 ½ month thing. I was thinking over spring break, `I can't wait to get back to the gym.' That is necessary. If your whole heart isn't in to something you won't be the best you can be and your whole heart won't be in it all the way. If you aren't totally into it, performance suffers. I know I need to get better in the off-season and being so excited to play next season because I love it. It gets me excited when I wake up to know I can go play basketball. I don't take it for granted at all.

SCU: Are the other guys like that?

ST: I think everyone on the team right now is like that. I think that is why we work so hard as a team - we care about it as much as the other person. It's nice going into the practice knowing everybody is trying as hard as they can and pushing each other.

Marc Trasolini has been a good guy to workout with. It's nice having another player working out with hard because you can push each other. You work a lot of harder with another person. It gets really competitive.

Right now we have this dunk competition at the end of every workout. Right now Marc is winning, but we'll see what happens in the coming weeks. We see how many we can get in a row. There are two balls on outside bottom of the key (opposite sides) and you pick up one ball, dunk it, let it go (a manager or coach puts it back in its place), grab the other ball and dunk it and go back and forth and back and forth until you miss. Right now Marc's best is 26 and mine is 22. I started at 18 and he started at 19 so we are getting better.

SCU: Have you thought about next year at all yet? What game are you looking most forward to?

ST: I have thought about it, but I try to focus on what I can do now for next year instead of what I am going to do next year. I am excited we are going to get out and run a lot more. We are going to pick up defense at three quarters of the court. I am excited about the pace we are going to play at.

SCU: Will you play the 4 or the 5?

ST: Right now I am playing the 5 and maybe some 4, but with Marc Trasolini and Niyi Harrison and Ben Dowdell, I would imagine I would stay at the 5. Chris Cunningham, one of our recruits, can also play the 5.

SCU: Are you excited about the guys coming in?

ST: I've been around Niyi a lot and have seen him play. He is gong to be a really good fit. I have met all the recruits and they will fit in really well, especially with the faster pace we are going to play at.

SCU: Looking back for a second to this past year, what was it like to go against John Bryant every day in practice?

ST: For the last two years I have gone against John in practice (Scott was redshirted in 2007-08), and experience of going against him day in and day out was invaluable. To go against the WCC Player of the Year every day taught me a lot. I learned the level I have to play at by playing against him. If I can play against him, the best player in the league, I can play against others.

SCU: Did it give you confidence?

ST: Sometimes it was disheartening because he is a really good player, but I never got too down because if he scored on me I knew he was the best. Overall, I think I gained confidence from it.

SCU: What did you learn from him? What did playing with him teach you?

ST: He taught me to play hard all the time. When we did post individual drills every day we would push each other and it was nice to especially have him because he was a model of how things should be done. That was a big thing for me. He would do the drills first and then I would try to do it the same way.

I talked to him the other night at open gym and I know he has been working out really hard and doing a lot of conditioning. He is really excited to have the spring off (graduated after the winter quarter) so he can get ready for the next step. I try to draw as much as of what he is doing now because I hope to be in the same place in three years. I want to learn as much from him as I can while he is still here. I know we will be close when he leaves. I know we will still be close and that will help. I will follow him and learn from him as he moves on.

SCU: Have you been watching the NCAA Tournament?

ST: I watched the first two rounds.

SCU: Did you pick those four teams that made the Final Four?

ST: I picked one. I picked UCONN, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma.

SCU: Who has impressed you?

ST: Villanova has really impressed me. Their defense. Missouri scored 100 points on Memphis and they were supposed to be one of the best defensive teams. I really liked Oklahoma. I like the way Blake Griffin plays so I try to watch him as much as possible. I played against him at Nike Camp a couple years ago. He has gotten a lot better (big smile). He is so strong and so athletic.

SCU: How you have learned anything watching the NCAA Tournament?

ST: Just how intense other teams play and what we need to be at next year to get there. We need to play as hard as we can at all times because that's what a championship team needs to do.

SCU: Who do you think will win the Final Four?

ST: I think UCONN, but Michigan State is really good. I think UCONN. I don't know about UNC and Villanova. I have to go UNC. I'd still say UCONN wins it all. That would be a really good game.

SCU: Anything else you want to add?

ST: We are all really excited for next season, hoping to do big things, especially with so many home games. We have a lot of less road trips, which means less airports, hotels, meals, etc. I think we only leave the time zone once. Can't wait!