Brockman staying strong

PULLMAN, Wash. - In a very quiet locker room after Washington's 75-47 blowout loss to Washington State in Pullman Saturday, Jon Brockman was surrounded by reporters, trying to come to grips with the worst UW loss in the history of the Apple Cup series.

"They are at the top of the league," Brockman said of the Cougars, who beat the Huskies in every way imagineable. "They spanked us twice last year. I have all the respect in the world for that team. They work hard and are efficient on offense and get stops on defense. They compete in every area.

"We didn't come out with a chip on shoulder, we didn't come out on fire. They had a huge crowd for the game. They were ready for the game and they were excited. Right now I'm not going to make any excuses. They were the better team by 40 points tonight, 50 points."

It didn't help matters that freshman center Spencer Hawes was held out of the game due to a gimpy left ankle, an injury he sustained near the end of practice the day before. "A lot of what we do offensively revolves around him," Brockman said of Hawes. "We knew it was going to be a challenge, with or without, but we still can't come into here scared. When you're not firing on all cylinders you're not going to be near as effective. But we never come into a game thinking we're going to lose. If I was hopping around on one foot I'd still come out there thinking about what I have to do to win the game."

Brockman has not only becoming the rallying point for the team because of his captaincy, but he's also become the shoulder some of the new guys have used to display their emotions, simply because most of them haven't experienced losses of this scope before. "I don't need to get on anyone, I don't need to yell at anyone or get in guys' faces," he said when asked if maybe things have gotten to a point where he has to get a little more vocal in his leadership. "That's not who I am. I keep encouraging, staying positive. If you turn negative and turn that way, that's when everything that's why we have to stay together as a team."

Now that the Huskies (11-7, 1-6) are starting a stretch where they play five of their next seven conference games at home, you would think that would come as a welcome relief. But Brockman knows that just playing at home isn't going to give the Huskies that magical piece to the puzzle they've been missing.

"Just hard work," Brockman said, explaining his formula for trying to get the Huskies' nightmarish season turned around. "All hustle, no complaining, no whining. Play through stuff. Play through pain. No matter where we go it's going to be tough, even at home. And we need to try and simulate that in practice."

It's going to be difficult, as Hawes, Quincy Pondexter (ankle) and Adrian Oliver (quadriceps) were all trying to battle through physical adversity. And as freshmen, they are going through it for the first time at the collegiate level. Brockman has experience with this when he wore a mask for the first few games of his freshman season, trying to protect a broken nose.

Effort, he said, has not been the problem of late. "That wasn't the case this week," he said. "We worked really hard in practice. We have to bring it like we brought it last week. I thought that was the first time all year where we practiced like we should for three, four days in a row - brought it, competed and played hard. We just have to keep putting those practice weeks together. The most important days for us as a team are the days we put the work in. That's when we're going to improve."

And Brockman has a message to Washington hoops fans that have already given up on the season. "Whoever wants to write us off can write us off, because we'll be back," he said emphatically. "I'm not going to throw in the white towel. Washington basketball is not down. We just have some work to do. Anyone that wants to write us off and switch from Husky fan to Cougar fan - do it. If you're going to bail on us like that...everyone is excited when you're winning, but when you're losing - that's when you find out who your best friends are.

"We're going to find out who is going to be part of the fist, who is going to stick through this."

And if you ask him, Brockman is steadfast in his belief that his team is strong enough in mind to overcome the obstacles that have been thrown their way. "We're best friends on and off the court," he said. "We're watching out for each other. It's not in our nature."

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