The Washington countdown rolls on with the No. 10 player on our list — forward Martin Breunig.
Talk about big shoes to fill. The last Husky player from his hometown Leverkusen, Germany was Detlef Schrempf, perhaps one of the most versatile players in UW history.
Breunig has similar characteristics. He can do a little bit of everything. At 6 foot 8 and 210 pounds, he’s just big enough to bang on the low block. He’s shown flashes of being a willing defender and adequate rebounder.
Offensively, Breunig can score in the post and on the perimeter. He’s athletic and quick in transition and he’s able to handle the ball and become an effective playmaker.
In many ways, the Huskies are fortunate to land the three-star recruit (ESPN rated him a two-star prospect) who originally committed to Maryland. After failing to land three big men, UW made a late push for Breunig who received a scholarship offer from South Florida and drew interest from UCLA.
Breunig, who played at St. John’s Northwest Military Academy in Delafield, WI last season, looks as if he can help the Huskies immediately if he learns the defense. His size and versatility will enable him to contend for minutes and perhaps provide relief in a front court that has two likely starters in Aziz N’Diaye and senior co-captain Darnell Gant followed by a quartet of big men on scholarship who have not played a game.
Breunig’s is the fifth UW player from Germany. The other include: Uli Steidl, Chris Welp, Patrick Femerling and Schrempf.
Here’s a transcript from a recent interview with Breunig.
(You’ve been around the guys for awhile, what’s your thoughts about being here.) “Everything has been so nice. I’m feeling like a great part of the team.”
(Why has it been so nice?) “We’re working hard as a team. We go out as a team. We hang out as a team. And it feels good.”
(Who are you rooming with?) “I’m rooming with Tony (Wroten Jr.), Jernard (Jarreau) and Terrence (Ross). I’m not bonding with with any one person. People are coming and going. Everybody is like a good friend for me.”
(You’ve come the farthest of the freshmen. Are you homesick at all?) “Not at all. I found a new family here. It makes it much easier.”
(Coach Lorenzo Romar said on your first day on campus you wanted to immediately find the weight room and the strength coach. What was that about?) “I just wanted to show that I want to be on this team. That I want to give my best for what the team needs. I just want to keep working hard.”
(Did you find the weight room and the strength coach?) “[Laughs] No actually I didn’t on the first day.”
(Do you think you need to improve in that area?) “I do.”
(Why?) “You can’t be strong enough.”
(Have you noticed that playing against a guy like Aziz N’Diaye?) “Yeah sometimes when I play against Aziz or people who are bigger than me I really notice that I need to get stronger.”
(Are you more comfortable in the post or on the perimeter?) “People ask that question all the time. I can do both. Since I’ve got here, I’ve been working more in the post and trying to get better at that. I’ve been working with Spencer Hawes and I always look for the challenge to play against him. It’s really tough because he’s a 7-2 guy.”
(What has he told you about playing in the post?) “He’s given me some tips, which is very important to me because I can listen to him and maybe I can go and actually improve in those areas.”
(What kind of tips?) “Like you got to strong to the rim. You got to use your body.”
(What would you like to accomplish this season?) “Individually I want to give more than 100 percent for the team. And for the team I just want to reach as far as we can. We want to win the championship.”
(The NCAA championship?) “Yes.”
(Okay. Why not?) “We got to work at it. We’re on our way. We’re trying to. We want to.”
(Who do you pattern your game after?) “I don’t really know.”
(Growing up did you idolize anyone? Maybe Detlef Schrempf?) “Honestly I don’t know.”
(Is there anyone in today’s game that you emulate?) “Not really. I’m sorry.”
(How did you learn basketball?) “What do you mean?”
(In Germany, do kids play on the streets or is it played mostly in the schools and academies?) “You just play it as a hobby. Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to play as a pro. In Germany basketball is a popular sport. You play it like anything else.”
(How long have you been playing?) “Since I was 12.”
(Did you also play soccer?) “Yes I played soccer.”
(Where you better at soccer?) “At first yes, but then now I’m better at basketball. In basketball, you got to be athletic. You got to be shoot the ball. You got to be quick. You have to defend. All together, you need a strong body. This is what’s impressive about basketball.”
(Did your parents play basketball? How did you get so tall?) “My parents are tall too. My mom is 6 foot and my dad is like 6-3.”
(At 6-8, do you feel you’re big enough to play inside?) “Yeah. I think so. I’m working on my vertical jump so I can go up there with the big guys.”
(I’ve asked you before, but I’ll do it again and ask who has surprised you the most?) “Three guys. C.J. (Wilcox). He’s quick. I’ve never seen a guy who has quicker feet than him. And Scott (Suggs) and Terrence are very good shooters. C.J. is good too. He’s the best shooter in the country I think. These three guys are special. And Tony too because his passes are incredible. Sometimes we can’t catch the ball. We don’t know it’s coming. He makes the no-look pass and you don’t know it’s coming.”
(Seems like you’re having a lot of fun.) “Yeah. I am.”
(Did you think it would be like this?) “Not this much fun. It’s a lot of work, but we have a lot of fun. I didn’t expect that.”