The Duel Resumes: Brockman, Leunen meet again
Time, supposedly, heals all wounds — apparently even those inflicted on a Washington Husky by an Oregon Duck. Not that Washington's Jon...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Oregon @ Washington, 6 p.m., FSN
Time, supposedly, heals all wounds — apparently even those inflicted on a Washington Husky by an Oregon Duck.
Not that Washington's Jon Brockman ever really blamed Oregon's Maarty Leunen for displacing him from the roster for the United States' Pan American basketball team last July.
"Maarty didn't really have anything to do with me not making it or anything," Brockman said this week.
But in a way, Leunen did.
The two Pac-10 rivals — each forwards — were among 32 players invited last summer to compete for spots on the Pan Am team.
When the first cut was made to 14, Leunen made it and Brockman didn't. Many observers said the decision by the committee — a group of six that included Oregon coach Ernie Kent — was essentially an either-or between the two players.
The two will face each other for the first time since then Thursday when the Ducks make their annual visit to Edmundson Pavilion. Tipoff is 6 p.m.
Leunen, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior from Redmond, Ore., was selected largely because his outside shooting — he made 41 percent of his three-pointers last year and is at 45 percent this year — made him a better fit for the international game than Brockman, whose forte is working inside. The international game uses a wider lane, which tends to favor big guys who can shoot.
"They were looking for a certain style," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "That's not to take anything away from Maarty."
"It wasn't necessarily who was the best player," Leunen said. "They just had to put together a team they thought would work best together, so it wasn't really anything about Jon's game or my game because we are different players."
At the time, Brockman said he was "a little surprised, a little shocked" at not making the cut. It was the first time since the fourth grade, when he failed to make a baseball all-star team, he had suffered such an indignity.
But he offered little anger this week when asked about it.
"I wanted to make the team, don't get me wrong," he said. "But it didn't completely just tick me off or anything like that."
It did serve as some fuel for offseason workouts, however, as Brockman took to heart the thought that he needed to continue to improve his perimeter game.
But he said he won't look at Thursday night's game as an individual battle with Leunen, pointing out the two may not even match up all game — Artem Wallace could handle the defense on Leunen.
Brockman, Leunen and the three other Pac-10 players at the Pan Am tryouts — Oregon's Bryce Taylor and WSU's Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver — tended to hang out together during the down time and hit it off well. Low, Weaver and Leunen all made the final roster for the Pan Am team, which finished a disappointing fifth after losing its first two games.
"He's a cool dude," Brockman said of Leunen, a compliment Leunen gives right back.
The two haven't really talked since, however, though Leunen said he might have given Brockman a call had he not dropped his cellphone in the water a few months ago and lost all his numbers.
Though there are some obvious differences in their games — Brockman is 35 pounds heavier and has yet to take a three-point shot in his UW career — there are also similarities.
Leunen is one rebound away from averaging a double-double — he's at 15.3 points and 9.9 rebounds — while Brockman is one of just two players in the Pac-10 who actually is, at 18.1 and 11.1 (UCLA's Kevin Love is the other).
"He gets a lot of work done," Brockman said.
And while Brockman says he may not match up much with Leunen, the Oregon forward figures Brockman may be all he will see.
"I think [the memory of not making the Pan Am games] will just be extra motivation for him," Leunen said. "I'll have to make sure I bring tons of energy and match his hustle and effort."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies
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