Tyler Hansbrough for National POY

Tyler Hansbrough vs Michael Beasley

Last season there was no debate. Kevin Durant was head and shoulders above the field which is partially blamed on the fact Greg Oden was injured early on. It was thought Tyler Hansbrough would take a shot at national player of the year last season but his game did not reach that tier which separates a player from everyone else around him. This season, Hansbrough has done that as have others, such as Kevin Love, UCLA and Michael Beasley, Kansas State. In recent weeks, Love has kind of receded and it looks to be a two player race between Beasley and Hansbrough.

The Stats

Player G MPG PPG RPG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% PPS
Tyler Hansbrough 28 32.8 23.4 10.5 1.6 0.3 55% 0% 81% 1.76
Michael Beasley 27 31.3 26.2 12.6 1.4 1.6 54% 38% 76% 1.51

Looking at the basic statistics, Beasley averages three more points and two more rebounds per game while shooting slightly worse from the field and FT line. Beasley also features a three point shot which Hansbrough does not and also is a better shot blocker in general. Since the ACC and Big 12 are 1-2 in the RPI and UNC’s SOS in the non-conference is slightly better than KSU it is safe to assume these numbers have been posted against similar competition. On the surface these numbers give an edge to Beasley, especially given the dominant nature of his play in certain games. However, there are factors which make the numbers what they are which deserve consideration.

One significant factor is examining the makeup of the respective teams involved here. The question is raised as to whether Beasley enjoys a higher scoring and rebounding average because he plays a larger role on his team than Hansbrough does? The answer according to Ken Pomeroy is yes, Beasley does play a larger role in the offense. According to Pomeroy, Beasley has a Possession Percentage of 33% and takes 35% of his team shots per game. Hansbrough on the other hand has a %Poss of 26% and takes 24% of his team’s shots. So this basically tells us that Kansas State is more dependent on Beasley than UNC is on Hansbrough because the supporting cast is probably better in Chapel Hill than Manhattan, KS. A perusal of the team stats for each team shows UNC has three players besides Hansbrough averaging in double figures whereas KSU has only two besides Beasley. In effect Hansbrough is required to carry a lighter load and his numbers reflect that.

The Injury Factor

So based on the numbers Hansbrough is a slightly smaller factor in the offense for UNC than Beasley is for KSU. That being said, let’s examine how Ty Lawson’s injury(and by extension Bobby Frasor’s as well) affected Hansbrough’s numbers. Lawson was averaging 13 ppg when he went down with his ankle injury and has been replaced by a backup in Quentin Thomas who does not bring the same offensive production. Add to this the fact UNC also experienced multiple injuries to other key players such as Deon Thompson, Danny Green and Marcus Ginayrd which eliminated some of their effectiveness to score points and provide offense in different games. What do Tyler Hansbrough’s numbers look like when he is thrust into a situation where his supporting cast is rendered less effective due to injury? They improve significantly:

  G MPG PPG RPG FG%
With Lawson/Frasor 21 31.1 21.8 9.9 55%
Without Lawson/Frasor(and others) 7 37.7 28.0 12.1 57%

Tyler Hansbrough, when faced with injuries effecting his supporting cast posts numbers that are as good or better than what Michael Beasley has posted the entire year. And in terms of sheer toughness, Hansbrough is playing six more minutes per game that had did before Lawson went down and has essentially carried the team to a 6-1 record in those games. And this was not some slight elevation in his numbers, the scoring and rebounding went through the roof in an effort to keep UNC winning as the personnel around him faltered due to injury.

It also should be noted that Hansbrough has a higher offensive rating than Beasley. Pomeroy explains the ORtg to be:

A measure of personal offensive efficiency developed by Dean Oliver. The formula is very complicated, but accurate. Anything over 110 is good, and 120 is excellent for a player that is the workhorse on his team. The best I saw from last season was Utah State’s Spencer Nelson at 133.

Hansbrough has an ORtg of 127 while Beasley’s is 120. This basically means, Hansbrough is more efficient on the offensive end than Beasley which is also reflected in points per shot. Hansbrough has a PPS of 1.76 and Beasley is at 1.51. Considering rebounding, according to Pomeroy, Beasley is better than Hansbrough in terms of percentage of offensive and defensive rebounds collected. Beasley is also capable of hitting three point shots, tends to block more shots whereas Hansbrough(especially of late) has been very good at getting steals and drawing offensive fouls from opposing players.

As it pertains to the stats, the cursory look gives the nod to Beasley but a deeper investigation of the numbers as well as the escalation of Hansbrough’s play in wake of multiple injuries to his supporting cast seem to place him in a better light.

Winning Matters

Aside from the stats, I am convinced the team winning games also must be considered. Not only has Hansbrough carried his team to a 6-1 mark in a stretch of games rife with injuries but he has done so and managed to maintain UNC has a top five team. In fact UNC is now 26-2 and Hansbrough is obviously a huge part of building that record and keeping it viable when personnel issues cropped up. Beasley on the other hand is a member of a now unranked team that has lost three straight despite his gaudy point totals. KSU is presently 18-9 and at one point was near the top of the Big 12 before losing several games to less than stellar competition.

Also consider the Lawson injury factor again. When UNC was found struggling to adjust to the loss of their starting PG, it was Hansbrough consistent play that righted the ship. In the double OT game against Clemson, Hansbrough almost willed the team to a win. The same was true in the game at Charlottesville. Now that the team has adjusted, Hansbrough is still the one player opposing teams can do little to stop. Conversely, Beasley routinely puts up big numbers but it does not seem to translate to winning. In other words, if you remove Hansbrough from UNC, the Heels probably lose all of those games in the stretch with Lawson out and a few more even with Lawson playing. In the case of KSU, Beasley is a difference maker in that the Wildcats would not have 18 wins without him but not to the point he cam put them over the top as often as Hansbrough has done.

Conclusion

In many ways I realize the case I have presented follows more of a “most valuable player” route rather than “best player in college basketball” concept. It is very evident that Beasley is an absolute beast, more athletic than Hansbrough and possessing better skills than the UNC junior does. I imagine some voters are going to look at it from that perspective rather than accounting for some of the factors I have mentioned. I would argue, however, that given the gap between Hansbrough and Beasley in terms of talent and the fact their numbers are very close when the circumstances are similar you can argue that Hansbrough’s performance is the more impressive one, especially in the all important month of February. Granted there are still games left to be played and both candidates have more opportunities to make their respective cases to the voters. In my biased opinion, Hansbrough has done a great deal for his case with the way he has carried the Heels during the past seven games and if that continues along with the winning, I am not sure how it can be argued otherwise that he is the best player in college basketball.

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18 Responses to Tyler Hansbrough for National POY

  1. TxTarheel says:

    Each player and their respective team’s performance in March likely settle this debate. While a statistical beast, Beasley is not performing the same feats as Durant did last year with Texas; I have doubts as to how deep KSU can actually make it into the NCAA (assuming that they will). All that said, I wouldn’t want to face this dude in a second round matchup, dangerously skilled.

    Hansbrough’s run since Lawson went out has been nothing short of monumental, and voters should appreciate the difference between having a great start to playing great down the stretch on a top-5 ranked team with very real chance to win it all, let alone a trip to SanAntone.

  2. I get the sense that some folks would like this to be an award about NBA draft pick projection, and I feel strongly that the NBA prospects of the player should have no bearing on the award. Similarly, the Heisman should go to the best COLLEGE football player, not the best pro prospect (and not just the best QB, either).

    As far as a draft pick, I think Beasley may have more upside, because Tyler just seems to max out his potential night in and night out. But it is precisely because Tyler plays to his potential every time out that he deserves POY above all others.

  3. Will says:

    Great article.

  4. jackiemanuel says:

    Very well done THF. Tryingt o be objective obout this is nearly impossible (I own a Psyco T shirt) I think it should be a very close race but that Tyler will win it due to Carolina’s massive publicity edge and the public’s familiarity with Psycho. They are both deserving at this point. Michael has better numbers and can’t really be punished for playing on a worse team. He takes more posessions because he plays on a 18-9 team. Without Beasley, the Wildcats would be pretty bad. Tyler’s case is based on how he’s carried his team through February. He has more help, but stepping up his game seemded unlikely considering how well he was already playing. That clinches it for me.

  5. […] Heel Fan has an excellent break down of Hansbrough v. Beasley. How can we not back Tyler […]

  6. Steve says:

    I feel strongly that Tyler should be POY. That said, Love might be a factor because he has all of the characteristics that typically attract votes and other than being in his first year, no negatives. He’s in an historic program, he’s leading a winning team, he has some throw-back skills, and people can’t wait to see him in the NBA. He’s not going to win it because the other 2 candidates are too good, but here’s my question: will his “candidacy” split the freshman phenom votes with Beasley, or the hard-working post player votes with Hansbrough. In other words, is Love more like Hansbrough or more like Beasley, because whichever one he’s more similar to, he’s going to take more of their votes away.

  7. C. Michael says:

    Here is another thing to think about. Regardless of NPOY, if Tyler comes back next year, him becoming UNC’s all-time leading scorer is as close to a mortal lock as there is (he will be within 100 points, assuming any sort of run this year). That being said, it will have been 31 years that Ford held the title, and given the nature of the game today, and the way Roy recruits (i.e. lots of depth), it is not unreasonable to think that Tyler could be UNC’s leading scorer for the next 50 years! That, alone, should make us all take pause and realize how special a career he is having…

  8. Josh Bowling says:

    Well said C. Michael. You are right on!

  9. fatty fat fat says:

    You bring up UNC injuries but fail to bring up KSU injuries. KSU lost a returning 2nd-team all big 12 member, and their 3rd top 100 recruit on the roster has missed half of big 12 play.

    Oh, and you don’t think Hansbrough gets some help from the numerous top 100 blue-chippers on his team? Double-teaming hansbrough can’t be done because UNC is loaded. KSU has a pathetic roster outside of two players.

  10. 52BigGameJames says:

    “Double-teaming Hansbrough can’t be done”–haven’t watched much UNC hoops this year have you?

  11. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I was not aware of injuries to KSU players. And 52 is correct, you had no idea what you are talking about when you say Hansbrough can’t be double teamed. He is double teamed all the time and it simply does not matter in most cases. Also, Hansbrough passes the ball out of the double team about once every 10 times it happens.

    If you care to illustrate how Beasley has stepped up his play in response to these injuries the same way Hansbrough did I’ll be glad to listen. Also, while UNC does have a deeper cast of role players, you must have missed the part where I referenced injuries to not only Lawson(which completely changed the way UNC played offense) but other key players which at times limited the Heels to Hansbrough and about two other scoring options.

  12. CarolinaGirl says:

    fatty fat fat must be an idiot or have not watched either team play. Beasley rarely gets double-teamed whereas Hansbrough is getting double and triple-teamed constantly. Watch a game before you come over and comment.

  13. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I think the user name was a serious tip off as to the intelligence level of the comment.

  14. fatty fat fat says:

    Has any acc team played a box in one on hansbrough? EVERY team plays zone vs us. Everytime I watch UNC, most the time the opponent is still playing man.

    Seriously, we are kansas f-ing state. We have zero talent outside of beasly. UNC has studs everywhere.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Bill Walker is profoundly disappointed that you do not think of him as talented.

  16. CarolinaGirl says:

    If you’ve watched UNC, you know that people double Hansbrough CONSTANTLY. Admittedly, I don’t watch K-State as often as I watch Carolina but I did watch parts of the Baylor game and was wondering why they just let him have a lay-up line. I thought Texas did a better job defending him than any team this season so far. He is a great player and there is a reason he is difficult to defend. But please don’t act like he’s getting 2-3 guys draped on him all the time and Hansbrough is going one-on-one. If anything, the opposite is true.

    The reason Beasley chose “Kansas f-ing State” is so that he could take over one-third of your team’s shots. He chose to be without talent b/c this year is a one-year stint to audition for the NBA, an audition that suffice to say he has certainly done very well at. But let’s be real here. It’s not like he chose that school and all of the talent was snatched out from underneath him. He knew there would be little to no talent and that even if there were, he would still be the man and be allowed to do what he wants. He’s a great player and I’m sure he likes to win (he has gotten some big ones this year), but Tyler picked Carolina because he wants to win a title. I doubt Beasley thought that would be a possibility for him.

  17. Kevin says:

    Beasley choose K-State because of assistant coach Hill, not because he wanted to take over 1/3 of the shots. He was committed to Charlotte where hill used to be, then changed when Hill came with Bob Huggins to K-State. He is actually getting double triple and sometimes even quadruple teamed (yes I have seen it). I am a life long UNC fan who attended K-State. I have watched at least 10 games for each team this year and I think Beasley deserves the award. That being said I am happy with either of these studs getting it because they are both great.

  18. william says:

    SI did a really long article on the Beasley affair, one of those articles where you are not sure whether SI was for or against what was happening with the coaching change and Beasley’s switching from Charlotte.

    Interestingly, enough, if there is a third candidate, it could be David Padgett of Louisville, who initially wanted to go to UNC but then himself was struck by how much he liked a certain coach and decided to base his decision solely on who the coach was, signing with Kansas in 2003. Unfortunately, when he got there, Kansas had changed coaches to Bill Self, who has a history of driving recruits away.

    Roy Williams wanted Padgett to change his intent to UNC, but Kansas raised a great stink and then of course, Selfish drove him to transfer anyway. He got injured and that is why he is still eligible this year. I get the feeling that he is similar to Hansbrough, but less mobile and more of a traditional center; Williams seemed to have very similar affection for Padgett that he has for Tyler and I think he felt very sorry that Padgett was adversely affected by his move to UNC. It is great to see Padgett doing so well after so many injuries and having to sit out a year and hopefully he can get Big East POY and Tyler national POY.

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