Best of the Pac: Brockman's consistency may earn him MVP
Jon Brockman sees double-teams, and then he gets double-doubles. In a season of ups and downs for the Washington men's basketball team...
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW @ Arizona State, 6 p.m.
Pac-10 Player of Year candidatesJon Brockman, UW: Rock of stability for erratic Huskies, averaging 18.7 points and 11.6 rebounds.
Kevin Love, UCLA: Bruins freshman only other Pac-10 player averaging a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. Also shooting 58.4 percent.
Ryan Anderson, Cal: Along with Brockman, one of just two players to rank in the top five in scoring (leading the Pac-10 at 21.9) and rebounding (fourth at 9.8).
James Harden, Arizona State: Freshman has led revival of Sun Devils, averaging 18.6 points per game and also ranking 20th in rebounding (5.3), eighth in FG percentage (55.4), fourth in steals (1.71) and seventh in three-point percentage (43.5).
Derrick Low, WSU: Hard at times to pick a standout on the veteran Cougars roster, but Low is putting up the best numbers, averaging 14.4 points and leading the conference in three-pointers per game at 2.82, and also ranking in top 10 in steals (7th at 1.41), free thrown percentage (seventh at 81.8).
Brook Lopez, Stanford: Missed nine games early. But has been great of late and is averaging 17.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona guard: The freshman's value was evident when Arizona struggled without him. Averaging 19.2 points and 4.43 assists per game.
Jon Brockman sees double-teams, and then he gets double-doubles.
In a season of ups and downs for the Washington men's basketball team, the junior forward has been the one constant. Huskies coaches are confident that no matter what the opposing defense throws at Brockman, the line next to his name in the final stat sheet is likely to read the same — 18 to 20 points and 10 to 12 rebounds.
Except for those games when he might get a few more of each.
Last weekend, for instance, Brockman seemed like an afterthought as UW swept Oregon and Oregon State at home, fans talking about breakout games by young guys like Venoy Overton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
But when the weekend was over, the Pac-10 determined that no other conference player had had a better week than Brockman, who scored 47 points to go with 30 rebounds, hitting 18 of 29 shots. It is the third time this season he has won the player-of-the-week award.
Brockman had double-doubles (10 or more points and rebounds) in each game and now has 12 for the season, eight in his past nine games.
"What he is doing for our team is just unbelievable," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, whose Huskies play at Arizona State at 6 p.m. today.
Good enough that it's suddenly worth wondering if Brockman is a legit candidate for Pac-10 player of the year.
Brockman wasn't really on the frontburner of that talk when the season began, the conference loaded with as many good players as it has had in years, including heralded newcomers such as UCLA's Kevin Love and USC's O.J. Mayo.
But with the first month of conference play nearing an end — and the regular season past the halfway point — Brockman is the only Pac-10 player ranked in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage. He leads the conference in rebounding at 11.6 per game (Love is next at 10.3), and is fourth in scoring at 18.6, shooting 55 percent (ninth).
Romar is quick to tout his player's candidacy, saying "he would be my pick regardless" but says he thinks Brockman would have a more realistic chance "if we could finish up strongly in the Pac-10."
Indeed, player-of-the-year honors are usually reserved for those on teams who finish in the upper half of the conference and qualify for the NCAA tournament. Six of the past seven winners have played for NCAA tournament teams.
Brockman says he doesn't play for individual honors but says, "Who wouldn't want to be [Pac-10 player of the year]? That's one of those things you can work toward without losing sight of the overall goal of just winning games."
What is giving Brockman a higher profile this season is his increased scoring. Nobody ever questioned his rebounding ability, and few are surprised that his numbers are better this year — he's getting exactly two more rebounds than last season, when he averaged 9.6.
But his scoring is up even more significantly, more than four points a game from 14.2 to 18.6. Even Romar wasn't sure that would happen.
"I didn't know he would come out and average 18, almost 19 points a game," Romar said. "I thought maybe he'd be at 16, 17."
Romar points out that if Brockman were shooting free throws just a little better — he's at 57.8 percent, down from 66 percent last season — he would be averaging more than 20 points.
Romar said he wasn't sure Brockman would score that much in part because UW's system tends to spread out the points. Since Romar took over as coach, the only player to average more than 16.4 points for a season was Brandon Roy two years ago at 20.2.
But without the departed Spencer Hawes to share space down low, Brockman has had more opportunities and has been able to take advantage, having refined his low-post moves. He has also improved his outside shot.
"He's more efficient in the low post, and he's started hitting his jumper," Romar said.
Brockman agrees, saying he's more decisive when double-teams come this season, and adds that the team has gotten better at getting the ball into the low post.
"We struggled at it at the beginning of the year," he said. "As the year has gone on, everyone has really improved at spacing and looking in and feeding the post. We've improved at playing together and getting more in the flow."
Brockman's play of late even caused Overton to wonder last week if he might be playing too well and might suddenly feel the NBA's pull.
Brockman laughed at the thought this week before saying he hasn't completely ruled it out and that it's too early to really think about.
"But when I think about myself playing basketball in college, I plan on being here for four years, and that's kind of how I've always looked at it," he said. "Right now, I haven't changed my mind."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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