Q&A with Rihards Kuksiks

The return of leading scorer Rihards Kuksiks was in doubt up until late summer, but the senior forward is back and eager to leave his mark in his last season in Tempe.

His thoughts on today's scrimmage

"I think we got better today playing with each other for 40 minutes. It was more like a game and we (can) see what we can do. The Maroon team (consisted mainly of the returning players), we definitely did a pretty good job, but there are still a lot of things we can work on. This was mainly for the new guys; to learn the offense and get a feel for the game. But pretty much, I think this was a good example of things are going to be."

How pre-season has been for him

"The one thing for me it's just to get healthy (Kuksiks twisted his ankle three weeks ago). I can't move the way I want to. I can't drive. You probably didn't see me drive one time today. My ankle is a little swollen. I twisted it and just haven't come back from it. I'm ready (for the season opener on Tuesday). I'm ready mentally. Maybe not physically, but mentally I'm there."

On how it's been integrating the new players into the system

"There are still some guys who need more work on it. Just to get ready for competition. We're trying, the leaders - seniors - to get them in the gym as much as possible to teach them the little things and all the fundamentals about our defense."

On the progress of his game - how it has evolved from last season

"I pass the ball more and try to make situations for other people. Also, I will drive, but with that, I just have to get healthy, like I said. On my national team, that was part of my job; to drive and create situations for other people. An all-around player is what I want to be."

On the team's expectations for the season

"First of all, we just want to win games! At this point, we just want to win games. This is our last chance, so we want to win and get (pac-10) championships. We haven't had one championship. Two years in a row we had chances to be champions of the Pac 10 and we blew it. This time around I think, it's going to tough to blow it."

On the difficulty of deciding whether to return for senior year

"In the end, it was not that hard. My mom told 'You got to go back. You have to get a degree' And that was all I needed. I have my guys here and I can't leave them hanging."

On whether returning was the right thing to do

"Absolutely! I'm happy to be a Sun Devil. Especially after I get my degree, I'll probably be the happiest person alive."

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