The (re)birth of Brommer


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In more ways than one, Iowa's loss to Iowa State on Dec. 10 was a game out of Bizarro World.

Obvious traveling violations went uncalled. Cyclone star Diante Garrett, averaging 17 points on the season, shot 1-of-14 in the first half and 5-of-24 for the game. Neither team could have made a free throw if the fate of the universe had depended on it.

Strangest of all, though, was the identity of Iowa's best player. It wasn't Matt Gatens, and it wasn't Eric May; it was forward Andrew Brommer.

The junior from Rosemount, Minn., went off on the Cyclones. He cleaned the offensive glass for thunderous dunks that received more fan appreciation than any other play in the game. He fed off the energy in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, pounding his chest after baskets. One game after scoring two points in 14 minutes, Brommer finished tied for third on the team with 12 points in 16 minutes.

All of this came from a player who entered the season averaging 1.5 points and whose primary purpose before Dec. 10 was to eat minutes when other Hawkeye big men were in foul trouble.

Brommer was an honorable mention All-American by SuperPrep magazine as a high-school senior, and ESPN.com rated him 86 out of 100 coming out of high school, but he struggled to find a productive niche in the first two years of his Iowa career.

That could have changed after his performance against Iowa State, and at least one of his teammates said he wasn't surprised to see Brommer finally live up to the hype.

"Brommer's been showing a lot in practice, so it was only a matter of time before he did something in a game," freshman forward Melsahn Basabe said. "He has practices where nobody can stop him."

What one does in practice normally isn't relevant, though, and Brommer tended to disappear in head coach Fran McCaffery's fast-break offense. At 6-9 and 235 pounds, the 21-year-old is hardly the quickest player on the floor at any given point, and he struggled to make a positive impact as a consequence.

The 13,276 fans who came out to Carver-Hawkeye for the Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk series saw a different Brommer — a Brommer who hadn't really manifested himself since he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds his senior year at Rosemount High. This Brommer was aggressive and asserted himself on offense, a stark change from the tentative, jump-hook-shooter of the past.

"I was pumped, and so was Carver," Brommer said. "There was a lot of space to do things, where I could use my agility to get to the ball and get to the right positions where my teammates could find me."

While both Roy Devyn Marble and Bryce Cartwright recorded assists to the big man, he was more effective when finding his own shots. He scored twice on put-back shots, ran the floor well, and there was a noticeable jump in energy when Brommer was on the floor.

Recording a career-high 12 points will contribute to the junior's confidence, and Basabe said that will only make Brommer a more consistent threat.

"[He's] a really talented player, and he's starting to realize it," Basabe said after the game. "I don't think he realizes how good he is. I give [credit] to him. It's no secret that I think he's an effective player, and tonight the public was able to see [too]."

The 12-point performance naturally caught McCaffery's eye, and the first-year head coach glowed about the steps he's seen Brommer take in his limited minutes.

"Brommer was great tonight," McCaffery said in his postgame press conference. "I've been really impressed with him — his work ethic, his determination. It was good to see him have some fun tonight, it really was."

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