Jon Thompson proving to be key figure for Broncs
An off-court violation he committed at the end of last season cost him the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and the first two games this year.
“It was hard,” Thompson said in regards to watching last year’s tournament from the bench. “The (team) spirit wasn’t there and for me to be responsible for most of that was really the most hurtful thing.”
Priority number-one was to fix that.
“I learned the hard way,” Thompson said. “But I cleaned everything up off the court.”
Rider is happy he did.
Thompson has made 29 starts this season, and is really beginning to make his presence felt.
“He’s really made this his team,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “He’s been that true quarterback and right now for us to be successful, he’s going to have to have the ball in his hands.”
It wasn’t his team four months ago. Thompson hadn’t played much point guard in his career — mostly being utilized off the ball — and was asked to fill a role vacated by the all-league Justin Robinson.
“It’s been learning,” Thompson said. “(Coach) Dempsey calls me into his office a lot and we watch film. He tells me when to set it up, when to push it. Those are the things that I was lacking to recognize as the (point guard).”
Sure seems like Thompson is catching on fine.
His 4.9 assists per game are second to the 10.1 averaged by Iona’s all-everything point guard Scott Machado. Thompson has 138 assists to 66 turnovers this season.
He’s gained enough confidence to start asserting himself as a scorer too. The 7.7 points per game aren’t indicative of his impact on the offense. Over the last four games, he’s scoring at a greater clip — averaging 12 points per contest.
“He’s starting to shoot a lot more,” said senior Brandon Penn. “At the beginning of the year, it was like passes, passes. Now he’s taking what the defense gives him. He’ll shoot a pull-up jumper or take it to the hole. That’s what we need.”
If the Broncs can make any noise this weekend in Massachusetts, Thompson is going to have to play a part.
“I’m going into the tourney with a lot of energy,” Thompson said. “It’s my first tournament getting a chance to play. I will go in with the attitude that this is redemption.”
Because this time, he’s got people counting on him — looking to him as a leader.
“I don’t know if we could win a game without him,” Dempsey said. “He’s that valuable to us.”