The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

91° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Hansbrough and Wright a one, two punch”

    Tyler Hansbrough knew help was on the way. Even as North Carolina surpassed national expectations with a 23-8 record in a season ended by an upset loss to George Mason, the Tar Heels had to wait for Hansbrough’s running mate.

    In summer pick-up games, Hansbrough realized that Brandan Wright would only extend Hansbrough’s skill set rather than diminish his opportunities.

    “”I don’t think it was ever a concern that we wouldn’t get along or wouldn’t click,”” Hansbrough said.

    Wright’s athleticism and length, as well as his ability to play in the low post allowed Hansbrough to develop his mid-range game. It also took defensive pressure away from Hanbrough because teams had to worry about allowing offensive rebounds to Wright.

    “”Me and Brandan think that we play well off each other,”” Hansbrough said. “”And it gives us both opportunities where either one of us could step out and so neither of us has to stay down low all the time.””

    UA head coach Lute Olson said the duo “”complement one another really well.”” With Wright by his side, Hansbrough’s numbers have stayed almost exactly the same. His scoring is down from 18.9 to 18.5 in one less minute per game, while his rebounds are up to 8.1 from 7.8.

    “”He’s a load,”” Olson said. “” He takes up a lot of space. He posts up well – runs the court really well, draws a lot of fouls. He’ll give you a fake, and then if you react at all he jumps in and through you.””

    The No. 4 Tar Heels will rely on Hansbrough and Wright to carry the load Saturday against No. 17 Arizona, just as they rely on their big men in every game, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said.

    “”Regardless of what the other team does, that is the focus of our team,”” he said. “”We have to get the basketball inside, and if one (Hansbrough) is shooting 54 (percent) and the other (Wright) is shooting 64 (percent), it’s stupid if you don’t throw the ball in there. We’re going to try to go inside, but we do that all the time. We don’t just look and say the other team has two guys who are 3-foot-3, we look at our players and try to go there.””

    Though Hansbrough says he feels no less beat up at the same juncture as last season, the Tar Heels’ added depth allows Hansbrough to run the court with his usual abandon without worrying about who will give him a breather.

    In Saturday’s game, depth may be less of a factor, however. The game is being televised on CBS, which means longer timeouts.

    “”Everybody gets refreshed,”” Williams said. “”I had to take a nap during the timeouts, they’re so long.””

    But Williams said he thinks having depth is “”extremely important when you look over the course of the whole season.””

    On the other hand, Olson, who is friends with Williams, does not share the same philosophy

    Olson said he doesn’t think he can employ the same type of substitution pattern.

    “”Anything if you go that deep I think it disrupts the continuity of the guys that are playing,”” he said.

    Williams, who uses 10 guys for over 12 minutes, has the luxury to bring in McDonald’s All-American Bobby Frasor along with Wes Miller, and Deon Thompson as his eighth, ninth, and 10th guys off the bench.

    “”For our club this year, the way I look at it, my eighth guy, my ninth guy, my 10th guy may be better than your eighth guy, ninth guy and 10th guy,”” Williams said. “”And if that’s true then I should try to play a lot of possessions so that the eight, ninth, 10th guy gets in the game, and that gives us an advantage.””

    Despite the acclaim some of North Carolina’s players received coming out of high school, Williams said he hasn’t had any problems regarding playing time.

    “”We talk about you’re playing for the name on the front of the jersey … the kids’ character is such high quality, they understand that, they want that,”” he said. “”We don’t have any problems.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search