Iowa CITY, Iowa - The cheers rained down on seniors Matt Gatens and Bruce Cartwright as they exited in the closing seconds of Tuesday's game. The
Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd showed its appreciation for the senior starters in their final home game.
Awaiting them on the bench was their much-less-heralded classmate, Andrew Brommer. The applause wasn't directed at him, but he should have been included.
The Minnesota native persevered through four years of downs with only a senior season of ups. His value to the turnaround could not be measured in minutes played, points or rebounds.
Brommer makes players better in practice. More importantly, he advises young teammates on and off the floor. He's a soundboard. He's big brother. He's a support system.
"He comes to work every day," freshman Aaron White said. "He's a good leader on and off the floor. He sets a good example for the young guys. He never takes a play off and he's working hard in practice.
"Even if he's not getting the minutes he wants, that doesn't affect what he does on the practice floor."
White said Brommer's leadership and tenacity in workouts have been invaluable for he and sophomore posts, Melsahn Basabe and Zach McCabe.
"He's bigger and stronger than us," said White, who scored a career-high 25 points in Tuesday first-round NIT win against Dayton. "You go against a a 6-9 guy who's 260 in practice and you know what you're going to see in games."
We read about guys leaving programs often these days. They're unhappy with playing time or the head coach. They're not getting what they feel is a fair shake.
Then, there's Brommer. He busts it when he gets his chance in games. He applauds young guys taking his minutes.
"He's adjusted to his role and how the new guys are playing and he doesn't complain," sophomore guard Devyn Marble said. "He comes into the game and gives us a lot of energy and solid minutes."
Brommer and Gatens are the only current Hawkeyes to play four seasons with the program as Cartwright is a junior college transfer. Their first two years with Todd Lickliter as coach rank among the worst in program history.
When it appeared Lickliter was going to be fired while the team was at the Big Ten Tournament two years ago, Brommer sat in front of his locker in support of the coach. When Fran McCaffery was hired a few weeks later, the big man backed the move.
You see, Brommer respects the coach. Even more, he loves the university and wants what's best for it.
Brommer did his best to help classmate and good friend, Aaron Fuller, adjust to Iowa City after coming from Arizona. He also worked hard to keep Fuller from transferring to USC without success.
It's loyalty to friends and school that make Brommer an important building block in the recent rebirth of Iowa basketball.
"He's such a nice kid. He genuine," Basabe said. "I've always enjoyed being around him since I got here. He's the ultimate when it comes to attitude. He's always positive.
"He going to be successful in life even if it's not basketball. He also has more basketball talent than people are aware of."
Injuries have slowed Brommer this season. That opened the door early for the younger guys to suck up his minutes and prove themselves.
He's fine with it.
"It's definitely special," Brommer said. "I love being in the postseason. It's definitely an honor. Words can't describe it because it was so down (earlier in his career).
"This is a huge bright spot for us. We're just going to continue to play our hearts out and keep it rolling."
Brommer will do his part to continue the ride. It's the only way he knows to carry himself.