A visit with Jon Brockman

Two weeks ago, when 12th-ranked LSU came to Seattle and got whipped 88-72, Tiger Coach John Brady heaped accolades upon two Huskies in particular.

"Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes showed our guys what playing hard is all about," said Brady in regards to Washington's two big men. "That was the game. The rest of it was not much. Those two guys just beat us every which way possible. That has not happened to us in a long time."

Ever since he arrived at Washington last season as a freshman, Jon Brockman has earned a reputation as a relentless hard worker at the forward position. Recently, as he sat in his Los Angeles hotel room a day before his team was to take on #1 UCLA, Brockman spent a few minutes with Dawgman.com. He began by describing the childhood origins of his admirable work ethic.

"Ever since I was a little kid I have always been going at full-speed, breaking stuff, running through screen doors," he said. "That's just always been my personality—GO GO GO. When I was first born, I was a little terror. Not that I wanted to do things wrong, but I have always just been high-energy. And the chores that my Mom and Dad had me do, they were always telling me to do my best. Those two aspects just combined, and that's a mentality that I took up long ago and have correlated into basketball."

When asked if his childhood travails were compounded by being a big kid, Brockman chuckled.

"I've always been huge," he said. "That was probably part of the problem when I was growing up, I didn't realize how big I was. I was always the tallest kid in the class, and also have always been a pretty thick kid all my life. I always wanted to do what other kids were doing. But when you're the size of a sixth grader while in the first grade, and you try to do what the first graders are doing, it doesn't always work out."

It was pointed out to Brockman that college basketball must seem drastically different after possessing a year of experience.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "I can focus a lot more on just basketball now, because I know our system. I have a year's experience under my belt, and I can just play. I know where I am supposed to be. It shows itself in the little stuff, like being in the right position on defense and getting the quick steal. I have recognized that a couple of times, where I have made a steal and I thought to myself, `I wouldn't have been in the proper position last year.' "

Reflecting on last year, Brockman described his most enjoyable and humbling moments.

"Going to the Sweet Sixteen," he said. "That was a pretty crazy experience, especially being a freshman and getting a taste of being that close to a national championship. It leaves a little taste in your mouth and makes you want to work hard and come back and get some more. As for the most humbling moment, I would say it just the ups and downs of the college season. I started off the season pretty hot, winning the MVP of the first tournament. Then, with so much to take in, you're thinking so much out there, and it's so different from high school. I learned that there are so many ups and downs as a freshman, and when you hit those lows, you realize that `Man, this is college basketball and you've got to bring it every night.'"

When pressed for a specific detail, Brockman paused to consider before speaking.

"There was a game in the pre-season right before Christmas break last year, where I didn't even score a bucket," he said. "It was a shock to me, because it had been a long while since I hadn't scored in a game. It was shocking. It gave me the realization that there is a big adjustment to be made between the high school game and the college game."

The talk steered to the different atmospheres in the arenas around the Pac-10. Brockman liked Oregon's in particular, for its rowdy and old-style atmosphere. But the dialogue concluded with the rowdy student section at Hec Ed Pavilion—known to all as The Dawg Pack. The mention of them made Brockman chuckle, and he was asked to choose his favorite antic.

"I really loved it last year when Gonzaga came in to Hec Ed," Brockman said. "Everyone had been talking about Adam Morrison's moustache, and then at game time everyone in the Dawg Pack had a little moustache on. I loved that one. There have been some classics, and it's always fun to see what they are going to come up with. The LSU one this year was also great for (the dieting All-American) Glen Davis. I don't remember how the Dawg Pack's chant went, but it had the names of several fast food restaurants.

"But my personal favorite is probably when they start chanting your name after a big play," said Brockman. "It's pretty amazing. Their chants have gotten into the heads of some opposing teams, including the (former) Cougar coach (Dick Bennett) and the Oregon coach (Ernie Kent). The Dawg Pack has definitely been a great sixth man for us."
Derek Johnson can be reached at derekjohnson1@verizon.net

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