UNC-Louisville

North Carolina beat Louisville last night to reach the Final Four, in what was the first good game in a couple of days. Xavier never seriously challenged UCLA in the early game, and while it's nice to see Davidson win, there wasn't much drama in their whomping of Wisconsin on Friday.

That Times link is notable in large part for their choice of photo to illustrate the story:

i-3967b4bbcd97be31fdf0d579d94721d1-30ncaa.3-600.jpg

I really wish I knew what led to the choice of this particular picture for the web site. Honestly, it's like an editor called somebody and said "For this game, I'd like a picture that makes everybody in it look as stupid as possible..."

The other notable thing about the game was the inescapable Tyler Hansbrough.

Hansbrough had 28 points and 13 rebounds, which, amazingly, probably understates his impact on the game. For a long stretch of the second half, he was the Tar Heel offense, hitting big shots to turn back Louisville's rally. It was a great performance, and will only feed his growing legend in North Carolina.

This puts me in a somewhat uncomfortable position. I like Hansbrough a lot-- he's a big guy who plays a fairly traditional big-guy game, and there aren't that many of those around. He also gets most of his points from old-guy ball-- as Jay Bilas kept saying last night, he's really only got one move that he uses to create a shot, and it's not that hard to step in and prevent him from spinning back toward the basket. He gets shots mostly by running around picking up garbage-- grabbing rebounds, tracking down loose balls, staying in constant motion and waiting for his man to get distracted. I enjoy watching somebody play that way.

At the same time, though, he's become the most relentlessly overhyped player since J.J. Redick, and Shane Battier before him. Basketball commentators simply won't shut up about him, and his "hustle." Now, granted, I just finished saying that he gets most of his points off hustle plays, but it's not like that's the only thing he has going for him-- he's more agile than he looks, has really good hands, and a pretty decent mid-range shot. And, of course, he's 6'9", 245 lbs, and knows how to make effective use of his size.

But, of course, the modern media structure demands that his game be collapsed to a single characteristic trait-- anything more would over-tax Billy Packer's three functioning neurons. Jay Bilas, to his credit, did make a few comments about other aspects of his game, but even he spent the bulk of the second half effusing about Hansbrough's "hustle."

So, as I say, I'm in a tough position. I like him a lot as a player, and from all reports he's a good kid, but even I'm getting thoroughly sick of hearing about him. I imagine Duke fans have probably locked themselves in windowless rooms and are spending the day with their fingers in their ears going "LA LA LA LA LA" (Note to Duke fans: This is how the rest of us in the ACC felt about J.J. Redick and Shane Battier. Welcome to our world.) I hate to contribute to the tiresome litany of "That Tyler Hansbrough sure does hustle..." stories, even though that is the most notable feature of his game...

Anyway, last night's game was pretty entertaining. I don't have high hopes for either of today's games, though. I suppose Memphis-Texas could be pretty close, but it doesn't fill me with enthusiasm, and as much as I've enjoyed Davidson's run, I don't see them beating Kansas.

You never know, of course, and it does look like it's Stephen Curry's world and the rest of us should be paying him rent. But this is probably as good a chance as we've ever had to see all four #1 seeds make the Final Four.

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Re: Hansbrough and only hearing about his hustle:

the modern media structure demands that his game be collapsed to a single characteristic trait

It probably doesn't hurt that a major characteristic of his game conforms to a racial stereotype frequently deployed in sports talk, right? (That white guys work remarkably hard, while black guys are remarkably physicallly talented.)

It probably doesn't hurt that a major characteristic of his game conforms to a racial stereotype frequently deployed in sports talk, right? (That white guys work remarkably hard, while black guys are remarkably physicallly talented.)

Oh, absolutely.
It also doesn't hurt that he's a clean-cut, polite, reasonably well-spoken white kid. He's safe to put on camera, and can be relied on to say bland and inoffensive things in interviews. The same factors that contributed to Redick's overhype work to Hansbrough's advantage.

...
'For this game, I'd like a picture that makes everybody in it look as stupid as possible...'

A true lol...

#1 (Ginyard?) at the left looks like a bad student in a PE Dance class.

...tom...

P.S. Sorry, I will leave all the sociological implications of the post to others to tease apart...
.

#1 (Ginyard?) at the left looks like a bad student in a PE Dance class.

It's worse that that-- he looks like he's been ordered to pull Hansbrough's shorts down, but is afraid of what he'll find...

The thought of Duke fans having to watch this does make it all worthwhile.

What I think you are saying about Hansbrough is that he does not get credit for being in the right place most of the time. That is one of the aspects of basketball that is rarely talked about by the TV "experts", and is it even taught by those who confuse recruiting talent with coaching?

What I don't like is that he gets too many calls. In that game for example, there was one instance on a rebound where I thought "that sure looked like over the back", but the ref seemed to think "that sure looked like Tyler Hansbrough". He seems to get a lot more slack than other players. It will be interesting to see if that continues. Who will get the call if he runs up against Love?

What I don't like is that he gets too many calls. In that game for example, there was one instance on a rebound where I thought "that sure looked like over the back", but the ref seemed to think "that sure looked like Tyler Hansbrough". He seems to get a lot more slack than other players.

Interestingly, I was thinking almost the exact opposite. There seemed to be a lot of plays in that game where he got the ball down low, got drilled, and nothing was called. But then, that was the pattern for both teams for the entire game-- they let pretty much anything go in the lane, but called the most ridiculous candy-ass reach-in fouls out on the perimeter.