Hansbrough Has Only One Gear

By Josh Herwitt - April 05, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- We're still more than a couple hours away from our first semifinal between Memphis and UCLA, but there's plenty of buzz already surrounding the Alamodome as media members and fans start to file in the building for what should be some exciting basketball tonight.

And if you've watched Tyler Hansbrough at all this year, you'll know that there's no one who will be more excited than the North Carolina junior to take the floor for this evening's second semifinal against Big 12 champ Kansas.

"That is just the way I play," the junior forward said. "It is just something I expect every time I go out there."

Hansbrough's excitement and energy on the court doesn't start and end with the game. Since coming to UNC, the First Team All-American has taken every practice and weight room session as seriously as a game -- even a Final Four one with as many implications as tonight's.

Having to practice against Hansbrough, senior forward Surry Wood understands the intensity that Hansbrough brings every time he steps on the court.

"It is real difficult," Wood explained. "It is an honor to get your head bashed in everyday. It's something of a daily grind that is tough. People don't understand that he is going to be just as physical with you in practice like his during a game, if not more. He takes it real seriously."

Because that's really the only way Hansbrough knows how to play. And luckily for Roy Williams, it's paid dividends all three years that Hansbrough has been at North Carolina and should again tonight against the coach's former team.

"Coach Williams expects you to get better every day," Hansbrough said. "For his players, I think that is great because he pushes you on the court all the time. I feel like everyday when I go into practice I have gotten a little better. It's just what he expects from his players and from the team. Every day we have to work hard and keep on improving."

Since his freshman days in Chapel Hill, Hansbrough has done exactly that, and that's why when he finally leaves UNC, whenever that may be, you can be certain that Williams will feel like the luckiest coach on earth.

"When that young man takes the Carolina blue uniform off and doesn't put it on, I'm going to sit on top of the Smith Center for an hour and realize how lucky I am to have coached that youngster," Williams remarked.

But whether or not the Tar Heels crown themselves national champions on Monday night, you can bet that Williams would love to have another year of Hansbrough's services.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 03:40 PM on April 05, 2008

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