2006-03-10

Hansbrough and the Heels


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Just got done watching the Tar Heels dispatch Virginia en route to the ACC tournament semi-finals. I'm always up for a powder-blue win, but this one was more of a struggle than it should have been. Had the Cavaliers been hitting from outside Carolina's weekend might well have ended early.

Another key to the Cavs effort: they didn't give Carolina's freshman star, Tyler Hansbrough, room to breathe. Hansbrough's modest 17-pt outing was a far cry from last Sunday's explosion that powered the Heels over arch-rival Duke.

There is no doubt that Hansbrough has serious game. He's a force in the paint, a monster on the glass, and for a big man his outside shot is obscene. Tonight Virginia demonstrated that even Hansbrough can't beat a triple-team. With every opponent in the vicinity rushing Hansbrough every time he touches the ball, Tar Heel success depends on two things: 1. Other Heels stepping up, and 2. Hansbrough learning how to distribute the ball.

The good ones have Hansbrough's skills. The great ones know how to beat you, regardless of your defensive strategy.

Shifting gears, it's time for another stupid announcer moment. Watch any Carolina game and you can't miss hearing how Hansbrough is the first freshman to lead Carolina in scoring and rebounds for the season. OK. But then you'll get the added observation, "That's really something when you think of all the great players that have come through this program!"

There have been some great Heels through the years, no doubt. Eventually the NBA Hall of Fame will be littered with Carolina alums. But most of the greatest (so far), came through during the era of Dean Smith, who was notorious for keeping his freshmen on ice. How can you call yourself a college basketball announcer and know so little about the University of North Carolina?

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