Hansbrough Moving Past “Pyscho T”
The 2009 Sporting News college basketball athlete of the decade wasn’t drafted until the Indiana Pacers selected Tyler Hansbrough with the thirteenth pick of the 2009 NBA draft, but being overlooked isn’t anything new for college seniors. Hansbrough finished his four years with the North Carolina Tar Heels having accumulated 2,872 points and 1,219 rebounds, earning the 2008 National player of the year award, and owning the records books at his college and in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“He is a good player, one of the top players in college,” said former All-Star David West. “I know because he stayed, and I went through the same thing. People say you stayed in college because you can’t come out, but he’s a good player.”
A non-stop hustle big man in college who earned the nickname “Pyscho T”, Hansbrough quickly figured out that effort wasn’t going to be enough in the NBA.
“You can do it to a certain degree but you also have to expand your game,” said Hansbrough. “You can’t go out there and depend on bringing energy or playing hard like that 100 percent of the time because there are guys out here it doesn’t work against like seven footers. No matter how hard you hustle, you are not going to be able to get your shot off just bowling through them. You have to develop your game, get a jump shot, and learn different ways to create your shot.”
Hansbrough had an inauspicious start as a rookie because of nagging injuries and an inner ear infection that caused him to miss most of the 2009-2010 season. It wasn’t until last year that we caught a glimpse of the impact he could have at the NBA level and it wasn’t until this year that Hansbrough was able the start the season in shape and ready to go.
“My first year I was injured, so I wasn’t really myself,” explained Hansbrough. “Even when I was playing, I started off with a shin injury and I had my illness that lasted the whole year so last year was pretty much my rookie year. It was a rough start because the coach didn’t really like my game so he didn’t play me. Vogel took over and he was the assistant who was always in the gym working me out so he knew what I could do and had confidence in me and played me and I began to develop my game in the NBA. Then I had a healthy off-season and was able to train and come into camp in shape so I have been playing well and hopefully I can keep it up.
The 26-year-old power forward has made a huge impression on head coach Frank Vogel and his teammates this year and expectations are high. In his first four games, Hansbrough has collected two double-doubles while averaging 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in just 28 minutes off the bench.
“He is a starter player that we have coming off the bench,” said Vogel. “He is going to be a sixth man of the year candidate. We knew Tyler was too good to be playing 18-20 minutes a game. We knew coming in that Tyler was going to play at least 25 minutes a game if not more.”
“We have Tyler Hansbrough coming off the bench who could start on another team,” confirmed Danny Granger.
The Pacers appreciate Hansbrough for more than the 100-miles-per-hour motor that earned him the “Psycho T” label.
“He doesn’t have the athleticism that wows you, but he’s aggressive. He plays inside, he can score with his back to the basket, score facing the basket, and he can get up and down the floor. Having a nose for the ball, he can have a pretty big impact. The fact that he is a smart ball player who has a good nose for it ultimately gives him his success. He has skill.”
“He is able to hit shots that I thought could never go in,” added Roy Hibbert. “His numbers speak for themselves. Offensively he is where he wants to be, he gets his shots.”
Hansbrough still brings the power and energy to what Coach Vogel calls the Pacers “smash-mouth” style of basketball however, so he may never be quite able to shake the “Psycho T” nickname.
“Tyler has a natural ability to just ram the ball down your throat and go score,” said Granger. “He plays with that brute force and it’s fun to watch him go beat up people.”
“He is a relentless player who has a motor that isn’t paralleled in this league,” said Vogel.
Under Coach Vogel, Hansbrough was given his chance to play in the NBA and prove once again that four-year college players are not finished products. While the quiet, hard-working young power forward may never be able to completely get past “Psycho T”, he is developing the skills to go with his relentless motor and potentially take his game far past any place anticipated on draft day.