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Our latest Q&A subject is Washington forward Jon Brockman, a 6-7 senior who's the nation's eighth-leading rebounder. Brockman averages 11.2 boards per game (as well as 14.9 points) for the Huskies, who won the Pac-10 regular-season title and are a No. 4 seed in the West Region. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation from Sunday ...
Luke Winn: Your last tourney appearance was three years ago, against UConn in the Sweet 16 [ -- a classic game that was somewhat forgotten after the Huskies' loss to George Mason]. What do you remember about it?
Jon Brockman: I just remember how much of a heartbreaker it was. It was one of those games where you feel like you really had it locked up, and you're headed to the Elite Eight ... and then UConn came back and we lost in overtime. Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay kind of got into it, and Brandon got in foul trouble because of the technical he got, and the momentum seemed to turn at that moment.
LW: Have you been able to watch the tournament the past two years, when you've been out of it?
JB: I've been able to watch games -- but I haven't been able to watch Selection Sunday, and haven't been able to fill out brackets. It's hard to enjoy that stuff when your team isn't in it.
LW: You're matched up with Mississippi State in the first round in Portland. Have you ever been up against a shot-blocker like Jarvis Varnado before?
JB: I saw highlights of the SEC championship, and they reminded me a lot of USC, which has Taj Gibson, who's a great shot-blocker and was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. But I don't think I've played against a shot-blocker who's as skilled as Varnado is. He doesn't just block shots -- he probably changes more than he blocks, so he's going to be a challenge.
LW: You recently became the only college basketball player (that we know of) who's Twittering. What was the inspiration?
JB: Our football coach [Steve Sarkisian] had one, and at first I started just to try to see if I could have more followers than coach Sarkisian has. That was kind of my motivation. [Sarkisian currently has 1,750, Brockman has 961.] I have Facebook, and I think people enjoy seeing status updates on Facebook, and that's basically what Twitter is. A lot of UW fans just really enjoy hearing what I'm doing when I'm hanging out off the court.
LW: I heard you maxed out your Facebook page because of that.
JB: Yeah. I hit the max on Facebook -- they only let you have 5,000 friends -- so I had to start a second account. Now I have two Facebook pages and a Twitter.
LW: Was Sarkisian the first one to tell you about Twitter, then?
JB: Actually, Richard [Kilwein] in our media department told me he was into it, and he was following all of these people. I heard Shaq and Lance Armstrong were really into it, and I thought it was cool, so I started doing it. Shaq will even post pictures on his Twitter -- like, if they're headed to an arena, he'll throw up a pic of Steve Nash or something funny.
LW: You've replied to Shaq's Tweets, right?
JB: I tried to get him to reply back, yeah, but he wasn't having it. I'm sure he gets a lot of messages. I've always been a big fan of Shaq's though. I have a huge poster of him on the wall of my room right now. It's from his rookie year, a six-foot-tall poster of him dunking.
LW: Not a Kazaam poster.
JB: I wish. Or maybe Shaq Steel.
LW: The incident that really got your Twittering noticed was with the heckler from Washington State. Can you explain how that went down?
JB: It was funny. This guy [James Monsey, a WSU student who got ahold of Brockman's cell phone number] was calling me the night before the big rivalry game, our last game of the regular season against Washington State. Calling about 25 times and sending a bunch of text messages. Then after we beat them, that night, I posted his cell number on Facebook and Twitter, said what he'd done, and told all Husky fans to basically let him have it. I guess he had something in the range of 400 phone calls that night.
LW: Have you heard from him since?
JB: He actually texted me a couple of days ago and said something like, "I just wanted to say thanks, I've been interviewed by five newspapers, been on the radio, and magazines have been calling." So it was all in good fun between us.
LW: I read a story in which coach [Lorenzo] Romar said the feeling of running into you in the paint was like getting hit by a flying refrigerator. How accurate do you think that is?
JB: I don't really have any regard for my body when I'm out on the floor. I just throw it around, and I end up getting hurt sometimes. I play recklessly and I've learned to kind of use my body as a weapon.
LW: [Sophomore guard] Venoy Overton is getting a rep as a defender who kind of drives people nuts, especially after the dustup you had with Arizona State in the Pac-10 tournament. What does he do so well to rile people up?
JB: First of all, Venoy is an awesome guy who's one of my favorite guys on the team. Like me he's kind of a restless guy who can't sit still for very long. And what he does on defense, he's so quick and he's so athletic that he can really get into some guards as they're bringing the ball up and kind of turn them back and forth. People get really frustrated by him pestering them like that, to the point that they'll end up throwing elbows at him.
LW: When you were younger you told your parents that you thought you'd be playing football for the Huskies, not basketball. I came across a blog post that asked if you were potentially the next Antonio Gates, headed to a future in the NFL. Is that something you'd actually consider doing?
JB: I definitely would. I love football, and it's something I wish I would have kept playing, but I just couldn't continue it. My hope is to play basketball for a long time after college, but if for some reason that doesn't work out, I'd be more than willing to give football a try.
LW: DeJuan Blair from Pitt, who's another one of the nation's best rebounders, told me that he treats rebounds like money -- like every one is a million dollars, and he's going to go get rich. What drives you to rebound the way you do?
JB: Rebounding is something that I really enjoy. I treat every single shot like it's a missed shot, and try to go get it. It's almost like a little game: who can get to the ball first. I've never really thought of a rebound as a million dollars, but it seems to be working for him, so I might try it.
LW: Another thing Blair said was that he dreamed of winning the national title by pulling down an offensive board and putting it back up, rather than hitting a shot off some set play.
JB: I'd have to agree with him on that. That would be more special. For me, grabbing an offensive rebound, or grabbing a key rebound where you really get up and get above everyone, is the best part of basketball. It's one of those plays that makes you think to yourself, "That's why I play."