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October 30, 2010 at 7:36 AM

Klay Thompson: “Why not us?”

Pac_10_Media_Day_Basketball WSU.JPG
Photo credit: AP Photo – Reed Saxon
Had a chance to spend a few minutes with Washington State junior guard Klay Thompson (above, right) at Pac-10 Media Day. He was introspective about his development as a basketball player and his role with the Cougars.
Thompson admitted he struggled at times last year and candidly talked about the poor body language he’d sometimes display that became a point of criticism from Cougars fans and concern for teammates and the coaching staff.
In his first year, Ken Bone (above, left) led Washington State to a 16-15 record last season. The Cougars, however, finished 6-12 in the Pac-10 and were last in the conference.
WSU experienced a lot of turnover in the offseason. Four players transferred and one key reserve graduated. The Cougars also brought in six newcomers, including Lakes High guard Andre Winston and Ephrata High forward Patrick Simon.
The Cougars return all five starters and their top three players (junior F DeAngelo Casto, sophomore G Reggie Moore and Thompson) are as good as any in conference, which is probably why they were picked fifth in the preseason media poll.
Thompson, however, believes Washington State is good enough to win the team’s first Pac-10 title.
(What did you do this summer to get ready for the season?) “I was in Pullman for like five weeks. Getting stronger. Getting in shape. Then I went to the LeBron camp and played against some of the best competition in college basketball. I think that got me a lot better and a lot more ready for the season.”
(What other players were at the camp?) “I think Isaiah (Thomas) was there. Nah, he wasn’t. He went to the skills camp. But Nolan Smith was there. (Kyle) Singler from Duke. Kids from Kansas State, (Jacob) Pullen and (Curtis) Kelly. There was just a lot of good players.”
(So what did the camp do for you specifically?) “It gave me a new boost, a new confidence boost. I went there and played pretty good. And if you can play good against those guys, you can play good against anybody in college basketball. Doing that gave me a big boost of confidence and a little more swagger in my game.”
(I’m sure you’ve heard this a 100 times, but besides yourself, Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto, what does WSU have?)

“People don’t think we have much left, but we do. We got a good nucleus and a couple of guys that are going to breakout this year. Marcus (Capers) has been hitting a lot more jumpers lately, shooting a lot better. We got a new player Faisal Aden and he can really shoot it. And he can really score. Getting Faisal was so big for us. He’s another go-to scorer that we really needed. Brock Motum has gotten better this summer. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s really quick and plays almost like a guard. He makes us a lot more versatile.”

(It’s probably unfair, but what can you do to make your teammates better?)
“I think I can continue to move without the ball and just be a playmaker. As long as I draw the defense to me, that should help. I think last year, starting out hot a lot of teams focused on me a little more. This year if teams do that I think we got a lot more balance this year. So teams can’t focus on me as much having Faisal, Casto and Reggie. Those guys can really score it so (we) have a lot more balance this year than we did last year.”
(What’s the biggest lesson you learned last season?) “Stay mentally tough and not show poor body language because once you do that teams see that and they’re going to come at you. I’m just not going to let a couple of missed shots affect me. Last year I let that affect my game too much and like I said this summer gave me a new sense of confidence and I think I can play with anybody now.”
(It’s funny you should mention the body language because I was going to ask you about that. Tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems as if you really believe every shot is going in and you get really mad when it doesn’t.) “Yeah, yeah I know. [Laughter] Last year I started off so good and then you through a little adversity and not hit a couple of shots and you get frustrated. Yeah I think I worked on that a lot more this year. I’m not showing poor body language and not letting a couple of missed shots affect me. It’s over with. Forget about it. That’s what I think. So I think I’ll do a lot better with that.”
(So is it safe to say you’ve developed more a killer’s mentality or just more ice cold with your emotions?) “Yeah I would say so. I’m not going to let anything rattle me. Stay focused. And just be mentally tough.”
(How good can the Cougars be this year?) “I think we have a chance to win the Pac-10 championship. I think we can be that good. We got all the pieces in place. I can’t wait for our first game and see the hard work pay off. I’m really anxious to get out there and prove people wrong. Being in in last place (last season) and that left a bitter taste in my mouth. And we saw the (2006-07) team do it. They went from 10th to second and we think we got as much talent as that team so why not us.”

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