The phrase ‘unanimous No. 1’ hangs
heavy expectations on the team and the player.
Tyler Hansbrough is cool with that.
Even if you get him hot.
by Barry Jacobs / Illustration by Bart Forbes ’ 61
any in the capacity crowd at the
Smith Center headed happily for the
exits as the seconds ticked down on
a comfortable victory over Duke.
Thoughts turned on that Sunday
two years ago toward celebrating the Tar
Heels’ tie with Virginia for first place in the
The star of the 86-72 win was, as usual,
Carolina big man Tyler Hansbrough, who
had 26 points. Nine of his 17 rebounds
came on offense, a personal best. Typically,
Hansbrough fought as hard at the end of
the late-afternoon contest as at the start,
expending as much energy in March as he
had in October.
“People can play hard, but he goes to
the extreme, the absolute extreme, every
possession,” teammate Bobby Frasor said.
“If he’s got four guys on him trying to foul
him, he’s going to shoot it. If he misses he’s
going to keep going, not pretend like, ‘Oh,
I got fouled.’ He’s relentless.”
Hansbrough’s final rebound of the Duke
game followed up his own missed free
throws with 14. 5 seconds left. As Hansbrough got control of the ball, a forearm
from Duke’s Gerald Henderson crashed
into his face. Two hundred and fifty pounds
stacked six-feet-nine fell to the floor. Blood
gushed from his broken nose, and he lay
still. Later he would tell his mother he had
to make sure that everything on his face
was still there.
Blood draws attention, especially when
appearing unexpectedly and under heated
circumstances on the basketball court.
Duke folks and others insisted the tape
showed Henderson’s blow, delivered while
airborne, was unintentional, an interpretation that remains the subject of intense
debate. The officials’ judgment at the time