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Freshman Erinn Thompson and the Virginia women’s basketball team earned the No. 3 seed at the ACC Tournament, which begins Thursday in Greensboro. The Cavaliers received a bye in the first round and will meet the winner of No. 6 NC State or No. 11 Clemson at 8 p.m. Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum and will be televised on ACC Select. Thomspon, who hails from Winston-Salem, N.C., recently sat down with to talk about her role this season, why she came to play at UVa and how she got started playing basketball.

Question: What has this season been like for you?
If I could some it up, I would say unexpected. I broke my wrist in my last game of my senior year and I figured that would be the first and only time I would deal with a serious injury. Coming in to Virginia and then fracturing my tibia was extremely unexpected. But I look at it as a blessing in disguise because it gave me a chance to practice I play as long as I did. That helped with some endurance and physicality issues that I had coming in as a first year. Sitting on the sidelines and talking with the coaches and creating relationships with the rest of the staff – I have learned so much about the game of basketball.

Question: Is it hard watching from the sidelines or have you gotten used to that role?
It has been really hard. I got to play in three games and I had the time of my life out there. When it was taken away it was a little upsetting, especially last night. I am from North Carolina and those teams (Duke, Wake Forest, NC State) I get fired up for the most. I have adapted to my role but I don’t plan on getting used to it. I want to be a contributor next year. I want to come back strong and healthy and help this team win.

Question: Not being on the court, have you learned more about the fundamentals from the bench?
Absolutely. In high school you think it’s just run a play and go play defense. But it’s more than that. You have to get consecutive stops, you have to know when to convert, what position to be in. The terminology along is mind-boggling but I feel like I am learning so much. I feel like I am in a basketball class!

Question: Being from North Carolina, what made you want to come play at UVa?
It was just the best combination. Granted, there are four incredible ACC schools in that state. But I love Coach Ryan and I love this team. I have played on numerous teams but never I have felt such a family-oriented bond. These girls are here for me. I have been through a lot this year, on and off the court, and they have been there every step of the way.

Question: How did you get started playing basketball?
It’s a funny story actually. We moved to North Carolina from Arizona on my 13th birthday. We were unpacking and I had finished unpacking my room and I was driving my mother insane. I was asking to do all this stuff and she was trying to get things done. She heard about a basketball camp that was going on down the street at Wake Forest. She enrolled me in Charlene Curtis’ basketball camp. She is now one of my mentors in the game. I started because of that camp. Had I not driven my mom insane, I wouldn’t be here today. But I stuck with it, really enjoyed it. My dad played in college so that was another way for us to grow together.

Question: What do you love about the game of basketball?
Just the feeling you get when you’re out there. I really struggled in preseason because I had never actually been through conditioning sessions. The girls told me being out there and feeling unstoppable and invincible and together is worth it. I learned that.

Question: Off the court, have you thought about what you want to major in?
I came in thinking about English and maybe wanting to do something in journalism. I would maybe like to do sports psychology. There is a lot of emotion and anxiety that goes into personal lives behind the game. I think that is something that would be interesting to deal with and help people through now that I have seen it and experienced it a little bit on my own.

Question: What do you do when you’re not playing basketball or studying?
I just love being with my teammates. We have so much fun. We had a snow day last week and were all piled into one of the girls’ apartments and we just wanted movies, hung out, came over here for the men’s game. I just love being around them.

Question: Why do you wear No. 5?
Numerous reasons. My favorite player ever is Kevin Garnett. Also my number in high school was No. 2, but Whiny (Edwards) wears No. 2. So two upside down is five!

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