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 "Team Play Allows Washington to Win First Outright..." 
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Post "Team Play Allows Washington to Win First Outright..."
[Note: Although dated, this article is provided for informational purposes. - Admin]



Team Play Allows Washington to Win First Outright Pac 10 Title in 56 Years
by: Ed Bagley




Washington's 6-foot-7, 255-pound senior power forward has always been there—in the paint—for the last three years, battling taller, more athletic opponents. He brought his lunch pail and hard hat with him every night with no exceptions. Jon Brockman led the way in the underachieving times.

Now Brockman and his teammates just accomplished something that no basketball team at the University of Washington has done in 56 years—win an outright Pac 10 Championship title. He could not have done it alone, but it is even more certain that his Husky teammates could not have done it without their 3-year captain and leader.

Brockman was the role model and he set the tone that said "we can do this if we just play as a team and not worry about individual glory and statistics". For at least one season one team among the 347 NCAA Division 1 teams bought into the "we are one" concept and went to work.

The result for the players was stunning, not in just professional growth but personal growth as well. Never more so than in the case of senior guard Justin Dentmon, an All-Pac 10 Freshman Team selection who struggled through two seasons before arriving this year as a total blessing and an All-Pac 10 First Team selection. Dentmon was also named the Pac 10's Most Improved Player of the Year.

Junior forward Quincy Pondexter, who had been up and down like a yo-yo his first two years, finally settled down and began showing his talent and potential. He flat carried the Huskies at critical moments in some games.

True freshman guard Isaiah Thomas arrived on campus with a lot of hype and delivered big time—as a scorer, as a game-changing threat, and as a team player who exchanged some personal point production for more wins. The 5-foot-8 fearless lane splitter not only made the All-Pac 10 Freshman Team, he was also selected as the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year.

Sophomore guard Venoy Overton, who was a starter last year and came off the bench this year so Isaiah Thomas could start, transformed himself into one of the Pac 10's defensive stoppers. Every time Overton moved, he had so much speed he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. He took on the best of the best and harassed them silly.

Forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning (better known as MBA), Darnell Gant and Justin Holiday all had special moments and kept getting better and better as the team started piling up victories.

After playing themselves into at least a tie for the Pac 10 title, the Huskies put a huge exclamation point on an uplifting, positive, moving season by beating their heated cross-state rivals—the Washington State Cougars—67-60 to bring their home court record to 18-1 on the season.

But back to Brockman, a guy so tough under the basket he can go head-on against taller, more talented players in the paint and come out on top. Never, ever underestimate Brockman in the paint. He is fearless and can both give and take punishment; he has had his nose broken 5 times rebounding.

Brockman set the all-time Husky record for rebounding this year. He is the first Husky ever and the only the fourth player in Pac-10 history to have more than 1,700 career points and 1,200 rebounds. Brockman is the nation's leader with 58 career double-doubles (at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in a single game).

Jay Bilas of ESPN.com has called Brockman the best rebounder in the nation. Brockman pulled down 18 rebounds in the title-clinching game against Washington State.

Washington has built its season around greatly improved defensive play and a balanced offense that favors no one and benefits everyone. Husky players actually dive for loose balls; they will potentially hurt themselves to keep the ball alive and in their hands.

They have 4 players in double-digits scoring. In regular season play, the Husky backcourt had both Dentmon and Thomas averaging 15 points a game, Brockman averaged 14 points and 11+ rebounds a game, and Pondexter added 11 per game. They have at least 8 players who can make a difference on the court.

Because of their great play and great coaching by Lorenzo Romar, Romar was selected as Pac 10 Coach of the Year. Romar has 3 great assistant coaches in Cameron Dollar, Paul Fortier and Jim Shaw. Lance LaVetter needs some props too as Director of Basketball Operations for the Huskies.

Washington started the season at 3-3 and then ended it with a 21-4 run to Husky greatness. As a former champion and record-setter I know how sweet it is to get to the top of the mountain; it is an accomplishment you will remember the rest of your life, and you will appreciate it more the older you get. One of my moments in the sun happened 47 years ago.

The Huskies begin their Pac 10 Conference Tournament play Thursday (3-12-09). They will be strong competitors for the Pac 10 Tourney title and will definitely be 1 of the 64 teams to have a run at the national title when March Madness begins March 19.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley


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Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:53 pm
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