Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tyler Hansbrough

Unlike a lot of people I know, I did not grow up a Carolina basketball fan. I remember hanging out in the bedroom listening to the Tennessee Vols on the radio (Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld!) while my folks watched Vanderbilt lose another one on TV. It wasn't until we moved to North Carolina when I was starting high school that I found out about the Heels. It was actually watching a State-Carolina game while we were still living in Georgia and seeing a freshman Phil Ford drive against the acknowledged best player in the game (David Thompson), do a 360 in the lane around him and lay in a fingertip roll. From that point I was hooked on the Heels.

In that time, there have been a number of guys that have had their jerseys honored in the rafters, but few of them have been centers. Of the ones that were, a number of them were really power forwards playing out of position, like Sam Perkins and Rasheed Wallace. We have had some damn fine centers, though, from Perkins and Brad Daugherty through Scott Williams and Eric Montross and on to Brendan Haywood and Sean May. But Tyler Hansbrough may very well be the best of them all. Even as a freshman he seems to have May's hands, Perkins' ability to put the ball on the floor and Montross' absolute will to win. Just starting into conference play and he's already been named ACC Freshman of the Week 6 times (and he's got well over 20 points already tonight against BC). I know he hasn't been tested against Eric or Sheldon Williams yet, but he's played against some pretty fine centers and has impressed against all of them. Even though it's too late to save the game, he even just hit a freakin' three pointer! I don't usually gush about freshmen, but this guy is something special.

Yeah, we lost to BC, dropping to 3-3 in the conference, but we knew it would be an "eventful" season. We've got some great kids on the team but they really are kids and it's going to take some time. But they're fun to watch, even when they lose, and they're only going to get better.


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