Brockman bloodied, but unbowed

Humbleness and greatness are two characteristics that are rarely mentioned together when describing players from the modern era of elite D1 athletes, yet the Washington Huskies feature a player who exemplifies both traits.

A bruised, bloodied and battered Jon Brockman spoke to Thursday about his breakout performance in an 88-72 win over LSU, as well as why fans' expectations and his on court performance don't coincide.

"I didn't sleep last night," said the 6-foot-7 sophomore. "It was a combination of adrenalin and excitement. Plus every time I changed positions, it hurt. My hip was killing me.

"I felt like that was the most complete game I've played. Forgetting the offensive and rebounding aspects, watching film today, the way I was positioning myself on defense, I definitely think this was my best defensive game."

His coach agreed.

"He definitely played his best game as a Husky last night," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after running a lighter than usual workout. "There's no doubt about that. He's had other big games, but the stakes weren't as high as last night, and he really flourished in that environment."

Even with battle scars covering his body, Brockman was still smiling from ear to ear.

"It was kind of the first night where everything really clicked for me," Brockman said, though he added it was far from perfect. "We should have limited Big Baby to 4 points, but I let him grab two offensive boards for put-backs at the end of the game."

As for the scrapes he's sure to carry with him for a while, they'll just be a constant reminder of how hard work can pay off. "I'm pretty scratched up this morning," Brockman said, as he pointed to two one-inch cuts running parallel across his forearm. "How does something like this happen? Parallel lines? It looks like teeth marks or something. I have no idea. I'm beat up though. Hans (Gasser) and I are going to head to the ice baths here in a minute."

Some players don't care for the contact, but not "The Beast". Brockman loved every minute of his battle with the newly svelte Glen "Big Baby" Davis. The All-American forward from LSU is down 60 pounds from his playing weight last year of 350. In fact, listening to him talk you might think Brockman carries just a little bit of the masochist in him.

"My highlight last night was whenever I was battling underneath with Big Baby and he was elbowing me," he said.

Despite the brutal nature of their play and limiting Davis to his worst offensive output of the year, the two brawlers chatted throughout the night. "I told him he needed to cut his fingernails," Brockman said. "He kept scratching me so he showed me his nails on the free throw line and said he'd been meaning to cut them."

Brockman came away with a favorable opinion of the All American junior, renowned for his friendly demeanor and likable disposition. "He's got a great head on him, and he wasn't talking trash at all," he said of Davis. "After the game he told me good luck and that was pretty much it."

As for Brockman's breakout performance - which saw him score 19 points while gathering 14 rebounds in 32 minutes of play, the charismatic forward isn't really sure what he did different.

"I wish I knew what the exact formula was, but it was just one of those nights," he said. The new marks that are tatooed over his upper torso and face tell a different story.

His stellar performance against such a highly touted foe may finally silence some of the criticism fans have leveled at the Snohomish native since his arrival last year as one of the most highly regarded recruits in the program's history. Romar understands where fans might be coming from, but believes that they are looking at it from the wrong perspective.

"I understand when people say they were expecting more from him, but goodness gracious, give him time," said Romar. "If you look around the country, at all of the McDonald's (All Americans) guys, Jon was the fifth-best scorer out of 22 of them last year. There were only a few who had a more productive year than he did. Despite being on a team with an All American and three other seniors, he still managed to lead the league in field goal percentage and finish fourth or fifth in rebounding."

To put it simply, fans wanted Jon to be something he wasn't, nor will ever be.

"People thought they were going to see some high flying, tomahawk dunking guy," explained the coach who couldn't be happier with his team captain. "But all I know is that there is (taking nothing away from what Brandon did) no coincidence that we went to the sweet sixteen last year and are having similar success now. I've heard it still this year, but Jon's pretty much averaging a double-double, so maybe people were expecting him to play three games and go to the pros.

"I've said all along that I compare peoples' expectations of Jon Brockman to Jason Kidd."

Kidd was misunderstood by many early on at California. "When I saw Kidd play for the first time, I expected to see a guy who was dunking over people and shooting threes from all over the place, but what I saw was a guy who played extremely hard and was extremely fundamentally sound," Romar said. "He didn't do anything real spectacular, except win, win, win and make the right decisions time and time again. He grew on me and after a while I was thinking that this guy was a really great player, but I didn't understand where all the hype was from. Jon reminds me of that."

Brockman has worked hard to improve the area of his game that received the most criticism - his jump shot. "Brandon Roy wasn't a polished shooter," said Romar. "Nate Robinson shot something like 27 percent from three his sophomore year, but maybe people expected Jon to be a lights-out shooter as a freshman, but that's nothing the coaching staff ever expected. I think maybe people expected us to just feed him the ball like Ike Diogu and let him go to work."

Brockman is just going to be himself, and that's just fine with his coaches and teammates - even if fans don't understand it. "I'm not going to be doing all the crazy stuff people might like," he said. "I don't have the ball in my hands that much, so I just try and go out and play old-school, hard-nose basketball."

The ever-humble battler with the crooked nose, big smile and bigger heart isn't looking for attention or accolades. "All of the highlight stuff just really isn't for me," he said.

Yet Husky fans couldn't be luckier to have him leading their team into the future.
Romar on his team's improvement: "Our team is still in the oven baking right now. You know how bad something looks when you open the over and it's not done cooking yet? Sometimes it doesn't look good at all."

On Phil Nelson's increased role: "With Phil, people ask about his shooting, he has been so busy learning our defensive system and our offensive sets, learning two different positions. That he has had to work harder than he ever has in his life. Shooters can't have any distractions, and there's been a lot on his plate, so now that his is beginning to figure it out conceptionally, it's freed up his mind to start focusing on shooting."

On play stability: "We want to establish a standard way of playing. The opponent is irrelevant. If we create a standard way of playing, the wins will take care of themselves. The challenge is playing at the same level of play we've been at the last couple weeks."

Brockman on Friday night's game against Weber State: "It's a dangerous game to tell you the truth. All the hype from the big win, with Christmas break coming up and a lower ranked team coming in, it a huge danger for us being such a young team. I don't want us to take any steps back." Top Stories