Some Folks Are Tired of Hansbrough

According to at least two columnists we are inundated to the point of drowning with Tyler Hansbrough.

First is was Rick Morrisey of the Chicago Tribune and now Mike Freeman as CBS Sportsline are lamenting the way the media covers Tyler Hansbrough. Apparently these two guys are not comfortable with how announcers talk about Hansbrough;s intensity, the way he plays and even the size of his eyes. Here are some choice examples:


But if you want to talk about overexposure, you start with Hansbrough, who is on TV so much that, by comparison, Paris Hilton has an air of mystery to her.

It’s not his fault. He fascinates the networks in a way no 22-year-old college basketball player should. He makes the most of his considerable ability, which is why Sports Illustrated made him its national player of the year. He will be an average player in the NBA, but that’s really beside the point.

College basketball announcers seem bewitched by Hansbrough’s wide-eyed look on the court, and only further scientific study will tell us whether those eyes have gotten wider since he started realizing they were the focus of so much attention. As it stands, his eyes are bigger than Fat Albert’s stomach.

Apparently no one else in college basketball hustles the way Hansbrough does. Other players dive for loose balls, but when Hansbrough does it, you would think he were diving on a grenade to save the lives of his teammates the way the TV announcers describe it.

There is something vaguely unsettling about all this. When was the last time you heard a broadcaster talk about the work ethic and intensity of a black player? Maybe that’s overanalyzing things, but when you see other kids busting their butts on the court and getting no recognition for it, you try to understand why.


When Dick Vitale basically declared during this weekend’s Duke-North Carolina broadcast that Tyler Hansbrough displayed the most desire of any player he has seen in all the years he has been covering college basketball, for a moment — a fleeting one — I thought I was smoking crack again.

Did I hear that correctly? Boop-boop, went the TiVo. Yeah, damn, Vitale did say that.

Vitale’s television career goes back to the late 1970s, which means he has likely seen such collegiate basketball brilliance as Larry Bird, Christian Laettner, Magic Johnson, Danny Manning, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Larry Johnson, Chris Mullin, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson.

And Hansbrough has more “desire” than those greats?

Hansbrough’s credentials are impressive enough, but it’s hard not to give him bonus points for squeezing out every bit of his potential, for never coasting … ” writes SI. The magazine later called Hansbrough “the face of college basketball.”

Again, most college players don’t coast. Why does Hansbrough get bonus points for simply accomplishing what everyone else does? Were Kevin Durant and Greg Oden coasters? Is Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert a coaster? Name a coaster of a top player on Tennessee or Memphis or UCLA. You can’t.

And I’m trying to remember the last time a black player was called the face of college basketball. Maybe it has occurred 500 times. I just can’t remember.

The media loves Tough Whiteness, too. Never mind that college basketball is full of blue collar, intense African-American players with more desire than ability. And forget the fact that Hansbrough is an excellent, highly skilled athlete, more Larry Johnson than Rudy Ruettiger.

None of that matters. The media sees the tough white guy with the bloodied nose, scrunched up face and Hannibal Lecter mannerisms and falls in lust.

Bill Raftery is an admirable professional who is one of my favorites to watch. He’s extremely talented, but during a timeout in one North Carolina game, he said “watching Tyler Hansbrough listen is special.”

What? No, seriously, what?

I thought the media had gotten beyond the “black-guy-talented, white-guy-tough” silliness, but the coverage around Hansbrough demonstrates maybe we haven’t.

This is nothing against Hansbrough. He’s one of my favorites. He’ll probably end up as a slightly better than average NBA player — there are a thousand Hansbroughs in professional basketball — but that doesn’t take away from the good things he’s doing now.

This is the media’s fault, not Hansbrough’s.

Okay, my turn.

This might come as a shock to Freeman and Morrissey but Dick Vitale is not the only person who thinks Hansbrough is the hardest working player they have ever seen. Mike DeCourcey told Adam Gold the other morning that he wrote the same thing about Hansbrough and his editors came back to him and asked him if he was sure he wanted to write such a grandiose statement. DeCourcy said he was sure. Jay Bilas of ESPN has said the same thing of Hansbrough, more than once as I recall. Bilas played at Duke which has for years and years been the gold standard of intensity and toughness in college basketball players so there is a chance Bilas might have some insight into what true toughness and intensity looks like. Besides that, Bilas even couches his comments about Hansbrough by saying that he played against Michael Jordan and what he see in Hansbrough is much the same as he saw in Jordan.

The problem with these complaints is you have a consensus from at least three different media outlets who are all independent of one another and have no vested interest in offering the same line of thought. Bilas/Vitale, Decourcy and SI all see the same thing. Analysts on the local ACC broadcasts see it, local media in Raleigh see it and the list goes on. So when you have this many people, independent of one another, saying the same thing about a person then it is either a grand media conspiracy or it is true. Somehow I think the truth option is the more logical choice here but then again nothing written in these two columns come anywhere close to being logical.

As for the rather repulsive act of playing the race card in this discussion let me call poppycock on this idea the media does not give black players the same props when it comes to toughness. The other night during the UNC-Duke game I was watching the game with a friend(UNC fan) and I told him what Bilas and DeCourcy had said. I asked him what he thought and he said he could think of one player who did all the things Hansbrough did from a toughness/intensity perspective. His answer? Duke’s Shane Battier, who was black the last time I saw him and most certainly was when he was the National Player of the Year in 2001. Battier played great defense, he hustled, dove on the floor, took charges and Dick Vitale was in absolute love with him possibly more than he loves Hansbrough right now. I also recall Battier was the recipient of that “face of college basketball” moniker. Why? Because he was a four year player and the media tends to favor guys who stay in school 3-4 years instead of doing the 1-2 year NBA tryout route. It is difficult to see a guy like Kevin Durant or Michael Beasly as “the face of college basketball” when everyone knows they are only there because the NBA has decided to put a one year buffer in place to keep GMs from being as stupid as they were when they could draft high schoolers. The fact of the matter is Hansbrough does not looks like an NBA player, he looks like a college player and based on all accounts of his off the court life, he is very much a college student. That kind of material plays well in the media and it is hard to argue against it simply because it is overly positive and somewhat innocent in a world that is anything but those ideals.

In the end, both columnists miss out on the big picture found in Hansbrough’s statistics. Sitting here today at the conclusion of only his 3rd regular season, Hansbrough has over 2000 points and close to 900 rebounds. In an era of early entrants to the draft it is rare to see a player in only three seasons post these kinds of numbers. Production like this means Hansbrough’s work ethic and game effort must be at a fairly high level. The truth of the matter is no one posts the stats Hansbrough has without playing the game in a “special” way. And if Hansbrough returns for his senior season he will likely end it as the all time leading scorer and rebounder in North Carolina history. I don’t care who you are or the color of your skin but anyone who can eclipse those two marks at the second winningest team in all of college basketball deserves any attention he gets.


35 Responses to Some Folks Are Tired of Hansbrough

  1. 52BigGameJames says:

    ssokay–soon enough we’ll get to see him do his thing on the National stage again, and they’ll HAVE to be witness to his “special-ness”.

    Maybe we ought to have fun with the contrived indignation–say, a photo-shopped pic of Tyler at Abu-Ghraib with the caption: “say it: he has the most desire I’ve ever seen”!

  2. Creecher says:

    I have to admit…the “watching Tyler Hansbrough listen is special” is ridiculous. I was watching that game and when Raftery said that, I immediately called my buddy and went with the same…”what in God’s name is this jack talking about?!??!?!”

    That being said, You’re dead-on. Personally, I’ve always been a little reserved about Tyler’s talent. Until this season, I’ve always thought he was a really good player with GREAT work ethic and drive getting too much attention. Needless to say, I was wrong. With the numbers he’s continuously putting up this year plus the FT%, he has certainly changed my mind making him a GREAT player with GREAT desire. There’s no question that he derserves that attention he’s getting, including the upcoming 1,000 people voting for the Wooten award that he will win with the likes of those infamous players mentioned early.

    Bottom line…he gets the attention because it’s deserved.

  3. C. Michael says:

    Freeman is to sports journalism as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are to, well, everything. He is quite simply, a race-baiter. Time and time again he uses his column to make anything and everything a issue of race. The saddest part is that CBS gives him said platform…

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    off-topic, but did anyone catch Tom Hanks presentation of The Dave Clark 5 into the R&R HOF last night? Excellent stuff!

  5. C. Michael says:

    I’ll probably get shelled here, but who are the “Dave Clark 5”? 😉

  6. Joe in Toronto says:

    It’s a shame that those two poor excuses for journalists can write such drivel and whats worse is the playing of the race card. It reeks of jealousy. Those two wish they had a player of Tyler’s work ethic on their teams whatever they may be (personally, I suspect they love dook).

  7. 52BigGameJames says:

    C.Michael–all-white British basketball team from the early sixties.

  8. Creecher says:

    No worries…I’m with you if you get shelled!

  9. C. Michael says:


  10. Will says:

    When I read these articles yesterday, it occurred to me that there is probably a thinly-veiled hidden agenda here. With the exposure Tyler got in the Duke game, plus the win, he put himself in the drivers seat for consensus POY. Those who are inclined to vote for Beasley probably thought the Duke game gave Tyler an unfair advantage because he was talked up to a national audience. So, they are trying to use Tyler’s assets against him, i.e., hard work.

    That is, if you say that hard work is overhyped, then talent should be the deciding factor for POY. I admid that Beasley is more talented. But in my opinion, Tyler’s hard work plus his talent make him POY. Some people clearly do not value the hard work as much, or they make race a factor.

  11. Tar Heel Fan says:


    Yes, Raffertery is a bit idiotic himself when he says things like that. I was going to mention that but this post took so long to construct that I forgot it when I finally finished it at 1 AM.

  12. Dominic says:

    Shouldn’t class, and character count in the POY? In my opinion it should, and putting up with the smack talk Beasley spews I don’t think he is even close to Tyler in this race. Though since most of it he directed at KU, so I didn’t mind, hehe.

    THF, great writeup, I wish the media would crush people when they try and pull the race card, when it is obvious that is not an issue. Especially the ones who seem to make a career out of it.

    Not to go on a rant, but, I do this every year, towards the end of the season, right before the NCAA tourney starts. I start to get nervous about next year! I understand the goal of playing in the NBA, the money, etc, but personally I don’t watch the NBA. It just doesn’t do anything for me, players move to different teams every other week, they play 2 million games, and I just don’t see the emotion or the rivalry that college offers. I’ll try and follow Tarheel alums, but it’s not like college games, where I keep a schedule in my wallet, and I tell everyone to not even bother calling me during a game. I can’t imagine if the contract was sitting in front of me, but wonder if the chance to break that record would bring Tyler back? I heard he at one time said he is staying til we win again, but if we win this year, with the highly touted incoming class, and only losing Q (who will be missed), would repeating, and breaking a silly number of records bring Tyler back?

    man i hope so!

    sorry to write so much.

  13. […] Psycho for POY We get started this morning with a bit of glass half empty stuff. Tar Heel Fan has found a few articles attacking Hansbrough for being over-hyped and he is not happy about […]

  14. Tom says:

    I love it when columnists claim Hansbrough’s work ethic and desire are no different than any other college player and in the same column predict he’ll be an NBA journeyman because he doesn’t have much talent. How then do they reconcile his peerless college production with his apparent lack of natural ability? How does a “slightly better than average NBA player — there are a thousand Hansbroughs in professional basketball” average 23 and 11, and currently rank in the all-time top ten in points and rebounds for a school like North Carolina? Oh, I don’t know, maybe b/c he works his dadgum @ss off.

  15. william says:

    Rick Morrissey

    Dear Mr. Morrissey

    It seems supremely hypocrital for you to write an article extoling the ever-so overhyped Brett Favre, the whitest of the white quarterbacks (not to mention king of the interception), while implying racist motives for other commentators who find similar qualities in Tyler Hansbrough.

    I think you owe both Hansbrough and your readers a grand mea culpa and you perhaps might want to see if you are not in fact guilty of the very sin that you accuse others of.

    I, for one, am ever so glad that I will not have to hear anymore about St. Brett and his single solitary Super Bowl win, but unlike you I am not going to ascribe racial motives to your writing one more paen piece to him. Even though I tire of hearing about Favre, I don’t disagree with what you wrote in your article about him, but it applies even more so in my estimation to Hansbrough:

    “We avoid calling athletes heroes anymore because they so often let us down. And when men and women are dying in combat, it seems embarrassingly hyperbolic to throw around such lofty words. But let’s agree that there was a lot about Hansbrough that is worth emulating.

    Find joy in what you do.

    Put your talent to work.

    Try to rise to the occasion.

    Don’t shy away from your problems.”

    Maybe you were having a bad week, but you need to think a bit more before you unleash such a poorly conceived article regarding a college kid before the world.

  16. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Nice job william. The Brett Favre lovefest was far and above anything Hansbrough has received and while I know the NFL is bigger than CBB, it was still over the top.

    Also, nice that you included the INT record, since the media NEVER mentions it when discussing Favre.

  17. Creecher says:

    Kudos to you william!!! Great write-up.

  18. Dan Schwind says:

    Quick question: Does anyone know if either of these tools was bashing J.J. when he got 4,000 times more hype and attention two years ago than Tyler is now? It just seems like J.J. got more attention at the time, but fewer people criticized the attention that he garnered.

    If either of them bashed him too, then fine, I’ll retract my statement, and I’ll just stand by the fact that what they’re saying is just stupid and inane.

  19. Josh Bowling says:

    How you can not know the Dave Clark 5. “Glad All Over” “Bits and Pieces” “Over and Over”. I am 34 years old and love these songs. Good group. They sound kind of like The Buckinghams who sang “Kind of a Drag” “Hey Baby, Their Playing Our Song”. Mix in a little “The Rascals” – “Groovin’ and you have The Dave Clark 5.

  20. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    Great parallel, Dan. I think Tyler will be 10x the pro player J.J. is.

    THF, no media people ever mention Brett’s pain killer addiction, either. With that said, I think Brett and Tyler have some similarities that the media finds appealing. Yes, both are white, but they both appear to give everything on every play, they are the “face” of their respective teams and they come from modest backgrounds. I

    think it’s hard for the majority of fans to connect with a Beasley type player–everything seemingly comes to him easy and he makes it look so easy. I don’t think that’s the case with Tyler or Favre. Fair or not, people have a hard time connecting with athletes/performers who are so talented, they appear to coast, even if that’s not the case. Rashad McCants comes to mind from a Carolina perspective, along with Joe Forte.

  21. Silent Sam says:

    It took me a while too to realilze who the Dave Clark 5 was. I always thought of them as the DC 5 . . .

  22. Steve says:

    Hang on a minute. I want Psycho to win POY real bad. These columnists, however, do have a point in the general sense that our sports culture tends to ascribe hustle, work ethic, smarts, and maximizing talent to white players. Sure, we do it less than we used to, but it’s still there.

    BUT in this specific case they are completely wrong. Hansbrough DOES work harder and accomplish more than other players. On the flip side, he is more athletic than people think, he’s faster than most big men, jumps high, and never gets tired. So is this reverse discrimination? This might be just a taste of what those players like Charlie Scott felt when they bravely broke the color line in basketball, and had to face prejudiced opinions like these every day.

  23. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    Here’s another guy who came from a modest background and was known for being ultra-competitive and gave everything on every play, every game. He was a nice player, too.

  24. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    Steve – I agree with your points and that generally those players have tended to be white and the media tends to fawn over those players a bit more. On the flip side, I think many Duke players fit this category (Bobby Hurley, Paulus, Battier, etc., etc.). I think this talk does marginalize his athletic gifts, just like they do in the aforementioned players as well. They’re all extremely talented, our perception is they maximize that talent while we perceive others (Forte?) that don’t.

  25. heels fan says:

    Here is a response to these idiotic “articles” at the sporting news:

  26. 52BigGameJames says:

    Josh: it airs again on VH1 tonight at 1am–it’s well worth it to see Hanks’ brilliant presentation–if this doesn’t get the blood flowing, you’re already done-fer–must see TV for anyone who liked the “DC5”!

    didn’t see Mellencamp’s induction, but glad he made it in too!

  27. DG4Heels says:

    I think that we are all in agreement that the race card did not need to be played here. It is a sad day when one of the purest representatives of college athletics is called out because of his skin color. This award has been given out for decades, and for some reason this is the first time that race has been an issue. Why? Because a different player records more statistics by taking over half of his team’s shots? Come on. I wonder what the true motive is here. Are these guys jealous? Are they craving attention? Are they misinformed? Or are they just losers? My guess is the latter.


  28. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    I just read the whole article and it makes me sick. I would urge others to send feedback to CSB at Also, wouldn’t it be great if UNC and its media relations people refused to start a press conference or give interviews if this guy was in the room during the NCAA Tournament? Not that he actually attends games or anything…

    The real thing that bugs me is he never backed up his points, he only singled out Tyler. Plus, I think he’s overstating the overstatements (if that makes sense) in some misguided attempt to back up his opinions. I’ve never heard Tyler called a “savior of life” or anything close to that except by Dickie V (and who listens to him anyway). Freeman is a bad writer and his column contains no real point other than to bash the media for loving Tyler simply because he’s white. What trash.

  29. Tar Heel Fan says:

    The ironic thing about the way the mainstream media complains about bloggers is they help to feed the blogosphere by hiring guys like this to write for them. Of course almost everything that gets written at CBS Sportsline is tantamount to traffic bait because they are 12th among sports websites. The WWE ranks ahead of CBS Sportsline in terms of hits. The issue here is you also had the columnist at the Tribune hitting the same points.

  30. Larry P says:

    Josh Bowling Says:
    March 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    How you can not know the Dave Clark 5. “Glad All Over” “Bits and Pieces” “Over and Over”. I am 34 years old and love these songs. Good group. They sound kind of like The Buckinghams who sang “Kind of a Drag” “Hey Baby, Their Playing Our Song”. Mix in a little “The Rascals” – “Groovin’ and you have The Dave Clark 5.

    Josh, you just took me back 40+ years. I was there, man, in high school and later at UNC when the DC 5 were hot. They were a big part of the British invasion, led of course by the Beatles (C. Michael may have heard of them).

    I also watched Psycho T when he was a freshman and the first time I saw him the word that kept coming to my mind was “relentless.” It wasn’t the color of his skin or the wideness of his eyes that led me to that conclusion …

  31. mugley says:

    “He doesn’t adjust. He just keeps coming. And we didn’t,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell says. “He’s the best player in college basketball.”
    I would take Purnell’s opinion over some hack’s anyday as to who is the best player

  32. w says:

    tyler is a great player who should be judged on the content of his character, not the color of his skin…..sounds very racist to me….

  33. sheila says:

    Tyler deserves all of the positive coverage that he gets. CBS needs better writers.

  34. […] didn’t know, features the hardest working player ever to play a minute of college basketball. Just ask Dick Vitale. However, when you consider how much better CSU has been playing, coupled with a good player like […]

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