Brewer reflects on breakout game, laments playoff absence
Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 7:18 p.m.
For former Florida standout Corey Brewer, scoring 51 points in an NBA game for the Minnesota Timberwolves validated the progress he's made in his pro career.
But Brewer would gladly trade that game for a chance to keep playing in the NBA playoffs. At 40-42, Minnesota failed to land one of the top eight seeds in the ultra-competitive Western Division.
“It was very disappointing because we didn't make the playoffs,” Brewer said. “That's why I came back here. The team we put together, it was a playoff team. We just couldn't get over the hump.”
Brewer will return to Gainesville this summer to host his fifth annual Back 2 Back youth basketball camp from July 31-Aug. 2 at Buchholz High School. He's added another camp in Ocala from July 28-30 at the Frank DeLuca YMCA. More information on both camps, which benefit the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund, can be found at www.coreybrewer.com.
The 6-foot-9 Brewer is an anomaly, one of the few former pro Gators who won't be playing when the NBA playoffs start Saturday. Of the 12 Gators in the NBA, nine are playing on playoff teams, a list that includes Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), Mike Miller (Memphis Grizzlies), Nick Calathes (Memphis), Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), David Lee (Golden State Warriors), Marreese Speights (Golden State Warriors) and Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs).
A source told Yahoo Sports on Friday that Calathes faces a 20-game suspension after testing positive for Tamoxifen, a banned substance that was part of an over-the-counter supplement he took. The source said the lab results showed no traces of testosterone or PEDs.
In addition, Al Horford would have played for the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs as well if he had not suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle injury in December.
Brewer said much of UF's pro success has to do with coach Billy Donovan's ability to develop players and stress team-oriented goals.
“Most of those guys that are Gators, we're winners,” Brewer said. “We know how to win. That's why we play the right way. You look around the league, David Lee plays the right way at Golden State, Joakim is playing out of his mind right now. Chandler Parsons is playing really great. Gators are everywhere. Mike Miller, even at his age, Mike Miller is still doing what Mike Miller does.”
Brewer's breakout 51-point, six-steal performance April 11 against Houston put him in select company. He joined Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry as the only players to record 51 points and six steals in an NBA game. With Minnesota's top three scorers out, Brewer displayed his athleticism in the open court, making most of his 19 of 30 shots by twisting past defenders for transition baskets. For good measure, Brewer also added a 49-footer at the halftime buzzer.
“Everything was working,” Brewer said. “I'm not going to lie. It was one of those games where I felt like I could throw it from anywhere and it would go in. It was good to do it against a good team. The Houston Rockets are a playoff team, and my team won. So it can't get better than that, 51 points and have my team win.”
Brewer said he was proud to see Florida reach the Final Four for the first time since 2007. He missed much of the Final Four loss against Connecticut because he had a game that night with the Timberwolves in Orlando.
“They had a great season,” Brewer said. “It was amazing. I was happy for them, for those guys. I'm happy for coach to make it to the Final Four. But I know that coach, he's not happy. It's all about winning. But, they got back. It was good for Florida basketball.”
Brewer, Noah and Horford were the centerpiece players on UF's back-to-back national title teams in 2006 and 2007. He saw some similarities in how the 2014 team played compared to the 2006 and 2007 teams.
“They played together, they were unselfish and it looked like they liked each other,” Brewer said. “That's what it's all about. It looked like they wanted to play together and hats off to those guys. They had a great year.”
Brewer said he's hopeful that if the Timberwolves keep their core players, they can make the jump to the playoffs next season. Minnesota was woeful in close games, finishing 6-13 in games decided by four points or less.
“We'd win by 20 or we'd lose by 2, it felt like, the whole year,” Brewer said.
Individually, Brewer said he'd like to continue to work on getting stronger and being more consistent with his outside shot. He finished the season averaging 12.3 points and 2.6 rebounds, shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range.
“I just need to get better as a player,” Brewer said. “I feel like I'm just not hitting where I need to be — I'm 28 years old, kind of know my game now, and each year I've gotten better. So I need this next year to be an even better year.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.
A look at the nine former Gators in the NBA playoffs:
Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls — The versatile 6-11 big man is averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists as the Bulls' starting center.
Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards — Beal is averaging 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists at shooting guard, leading the Wizards to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
Chandler Parsons, F, Houston Rockets — Parsons is averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as starting small forward.
David Lee, F, Golden State Warriors — Averaging 18.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists as starting center.
Mike Miller, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies — Averaging 7.1 points and shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range off the bench.
Nick Calathes, G, Memphis Grizzlies — Averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 assists off the bench as a backup point guard, could miss the playoffs according to a reported suspension for banned substance.
Marreese Speights, C, Golden State Warriors — Averaging 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds off the bench as a backup center.
Udonis Haslem, F, Miami Heat — Averaging 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds as a forward off the bench. Going for his fourth NBA title ring (2006, 2012, 2013).
Matt Bonner, F, San Antonio Spurs — Averaging 3.2 points per game and shooting 42.9 percent off the bench.