Brock Brumfield is as cool as a cucumber, the other side of the pillow, an autumn night or any other clich￩ that applies, but that wasn’t always the case.
When he was a freshman and sophomore point guard at Buckeye, the 5-foot-11 senior sometimes let his emotions get the best of him and was eventually called into the office by varsity coach — and former point guard — Tom Harrington.
“My sophomore year especially, Harrington and I had a rough patch,” Brumfield said in a phone interview Thursday while the team was busing to Chicago for the Austin Holiday Shootout. “He sat me down in his office and explained to me what it was going to take to play at the varsity level.
“I needed to calm down to lead this team. A leader can’t be out of control on the court. No matter what adversity you face, you have to stay calm.”
After seeing a bit of varsity action as a sophomore, Brumfield has mastered the role in his second year as a starter for the Bucks (4-1), who will play DuSable (Ill.) tonight and Austin on Saturday. Buckeye’s floor leader is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting .500 from the field and .730 at the line.
The scoring average would be higher if Brumfield were more selfish, but his first responsibility is to make sure center Michael Knoll (16.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 apg) and shooting guard Anthony Watkins (11.8, 2.4, 2.0) get their touches.
“As Brock goes, we go,” Harrington said. “He has the ball in his hands a lot. We run a lot of our offense through him and he kind of steadies the ship for us. He’s the guy that, going back to last year, we kind of put our faith in him. As Brock goes, so does Buckeye basketball.”
Brumfield’s leadership is partly an extension of his confident personality, but he also focused on that area and worked to improve, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by his coach.
“That is a huge area of growth for him,” Harrington said. “When he was a freshman and sophomore, he was a little more on the emotional side.
“His leadership and personality have improved exponentially. The whole program is very important to him, and his personality has allowed him to keep that as the focal point. He doesn’t get too high or too low. His leadership is very steady.”
One of the few lows occurred a week ago, when the Bucks were outscored 30-8 in the second half while losing to Keystone in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division action.
Tonight will be Buckeye’s first game since that second-half debacle, and Brumfield can’t wait to get back on the court.
“I’m so psyched for it,” he said. “We played so bad the second half of that Keystone game. I approach every game the same, but that game really did mean a little more to us after they beat us in overtime last year. We wanted to come back and get them, but things happen. We’re really looking forward to getting back on the court and showing what we can do.”
There was a moment when Brumfield didn’t know if he would get on the court at all this season. Having stopped playing football after his freshman year, friends talked him into joining the team again as a senior, but the wide receiver/defensive back suffered a concussion and sprained anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee in an Oct. 12 win over Firelands.
That ended Brumfield’s football season, but after a few scary moments and several consultations with doctors, he donned a brace he’s still wearing and was on the floor for Buckeye’s season opener in basketball.
“We spent a lot of time going to doctors and getting evaluated,” he said. “I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to play this season. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.”
Another shot at Keystone is in the future — “We’re looking forward to a second chance against them,” Brumfield said — and a Stars Division title and successful tournament run are possible, but point guards have to stay focused on the present.
That’s a lesson Brumfield learned from another former point guard, his coach, and befitting his on-court demeanor, he’s totally cool with that.
“If (Knoll) is hot, I get him the ball. If (Watkins) is hot, I get him the ball,” Brumfield said. “You have to do whatever it takes to win.
“I’m the point guard, and Harrington played point guard. He always tells me practices are going to be rougher on me because of that.”
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