Interview: Dijon Thompson

After a harrowing season last year for the team, returning leading scorer <b>Dijon Thompson</b> wants to put it behind him, and step into the role of leader and go-to guy...

After averaging 14 points and 4 rebounds a game as a sophomore, Dijon Thompson returns for his junior year as the Bruins' top returning scorer and, most likely, go-to-guy. He answered questions from the press at last Thursday's medai day about the expectations for the season, carrying the scoring load, and the new staff.

First of all, what kind of goals does this team have for the season?

"As a team, we set a goal to win the Pac-10, get into the tournament and let the chips fall in the tournament. That will be our goal."

With three starters gone and then T.J. Cummings being out, is that a realistic goal?

"Definitely. We can't look back and harp on that. We still have some goals to reach and we want to do them no matter what."

Talk about the different feeling going into this season, not having to hear about the coaching status, and just getting to play basketball.

"It's a lot better. We won't have to focus on any of that. We can breathe a lot easier. It's pretty fun. It's going to be fun."

Toward the end of the season, you guys had a couple of good wins, and showed that even in a bad season, you guys had the talent to compete. Now you get a fresh start, but there are some new faces.

"The thing about starting a new season is a clean slate. No one is expecting us to do anything this year, and they got us ranked 8th in the Pac-10, so its going to be fun and interesting, and there are some teams that are going to be disappointed."

With Jason Kapono gone, you'll probably get the most shots, and be the go-to-guy. Talk about that.

"It's going to be a very humbling experience really. I'm not going to be doing it myself, you know, my teammates are going to be working real hard to get me the ball, and I'll do the same to create shots for them. But I'm going to do the best I can to do it."

What's it been like for you and the team with a whole new staff?

"Coach Howland comes in, he's real intense and demanding and pretty much as a team, we're just listening to him and being real sponges and absorbing everything it is he is saying. We're just going to follow what he says and hopefully win some games."

What did last year teach you, with the media and the fans?

"Personally, you can't really look at that stuff, you just have to keep working hard, and that's what I did. Despite all the comments and stuff, I still played my butt off every game and it showed."

With Jason (Kapono) and Ray (Young) gone, and T.J. out, there isn't any real senior leadership. Is that something that you are taking up?

"The guys we got here have been leaders in the past, as far as high school and they know how to lead. Everyone is going to lead."

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