Monday, January 26, 2009


Tyler Hansbrough’s habit of getting the ball in the paint and then putting himself clearly in the path of flailing arms and grabbing hands of opposing players in a manner (according to some fans) that causes referees to actually call fouls when those arms and hands make contact with various parts of his body as opposed to the ball has landed the former Player of the Year in the dentist’s chair.

This season, many ACC fans have suddenly forgotten that a major component of Hansbrough’s game has always been to draw fouls and make free throws – after all, he is on pace to set the NCAA record for free throws, and it’s unlikely that all happened this season. None the less, when the human erector set gets hammered in the lane, many are quick to say “Foul? That wasn’t a foul!!”

Of course, it is a well known fact that the game officials with years of training and a reasonably clear view from 15 feet away can’t possibly see as well as the fan in the upper deck or the legions of would-be-refs at home watching on T.V. High-def television has only added to the confidence of these eagle-eyed wanna-be zebras.

In spite of the protestations to the contrary, Psycho T has always been a frequent visitor to the charity stripe – 315 times as a sophomore and 377 times as a junior. He’s closing in on Dickie Hemric of Wake Forest who holds the record of 907 made free throws. Hansbrough has canned 861 so far.

It is widely believed in some circles outside of Chapel Hill that 103 of those resulted from actual fouls and 768 were gifts from “pro-UNC” officials still traumatized by Dean Smith.

Clearly, ACC officials in last Thursday’s Clemson at UNC game had had enough of Hansbrough’s faking and their fellow officials clear need to call a foul when it appeared one was actually committed. So last Thursday, Karl Hess, Roger Ayers and Bob Donato decided enough was enough. Apparently, they got the memo from Mike Wood ,Mike Eades and Les Jones who didn’t see too many fouls committed on Hansbrough in the previous game vs. Miami. The photo below is from the Raleigh News-Observer and the caption and photo are untouched by T.A.H.

As a result, Hansbrough had just nine free throw attempts while earning a trip to the dentist for braces to secure at least one loose tooth that somehow lost its grip on Hansbrough’s gum without anybody from Clemson actually touching him. Call it a “54-0 Miracle.”

OK, now that we have both sides of the aisle all riled up, here’s what really going down. Truth be told, Hansbrough’s tooth got loose on a play that wasn’t a foul. In the ordinary course of the game, Clemson forward Jerai Grant's left elbow caught Hansbrough square in the pie hold. He left the game briefly and returned with a mouthpiece.

On last Thursday, he had clear braces fitted around that tooth and several other upper teeth as well . The medical staff will re-evaluate the team's leading scorer in about a week, at which point they might remove the braces if the tooth is more stable, or leave them in if it’s not.

Ultimately, Hansbrough’s fewer trips to the foul line is nothing more than inconsistent officiating which is fairly common in college hoops. Even within a game, what is and isn’t deemed a foul often changes from half to half. The other issue at play is simply that teams have devised a strategy to keep Hansbrough from taking over games – push him outside as far as possible to limit his touches.

So far, that, and a lot of beating and banging, seems to be working to some degree.

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