Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tyler Hansbrough: You Love To Hate Him

He is a four-time first-team all-American. He is the Atlantic Coast Conference's career-leading scorer with 2,836 points entering Saturday's Final Four game here against Villanova. He has been the ACC player of the year and the national player of the year. He has been praised to the heavens by everyone who ever picked up a microphone for his "fanatical work ethic."

"He does so many things well," said Michigan State center Goran Suton, who faced Hansbrough here at Ford Field in December. "He's versatile, which makes him dangerous because you can't do one thing to shut him down. The part about working hard is real -- he does -- but there's more to it than that."

Hansbrough averaged 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds this season even though he is frequently double-teamed and often has to create a lot of his own offense with rebounding his teammates' misses. He finished third in the balloting for ACC player of the year -- behind teammate Ty Lawson and Florida State's Toney Douglas -- and there is no question that Lawson has been the sensation of the NCAA tournament so far for the Tar Heels.

Hansbrough is the player people most love to hate. Every time he takes a charge, people scream, "Flop!" Whenever he goes to the foul line, it is because referees won't allow him to be touched. Every time Dick Vitale and his cohorts go ga-ga over him, many watching want to gag.

"People forget that a guy like him makes the other guys look better," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "I saw a lot of people talking and writing about how he only got eight points against Oklahoma. Fine, Oklahoma slowed him down -- but who won the game? Carolina, going away. Why? Because Oklahoma had to give up something to guard Hansbrough and the other Carolina kids had open shots all day. There's not a statistic for that. People may not appreciate the guy, but I guarantee you coaches do."

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