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North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (50) broke the ACC freshman scoring record with 40 points.
LUIS M. ALVAREZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 2/22/2006
By TODD JACOBSON
T YLER HANSBROUGH COULD have taken a break. He more than deserved a rest after his historic 40-point performance in North Carolina's comeback win over Georgia Tech last week.
But when Tar Heels coach Roy Williams peered onto the Smith Center court the day after Hansbrough's scoring explosion, he found the larger than life freshman shooting free throws.
It didn't matter that Williams had given his team a much-needed day off.
"His work ethic has enabled him to get better every year," said Williams, who just started coaching him this season.
But Williams's query begs the question: How good is Hansbrough going to get?
He's been named ACC Rookie of the Week eight times--including this week--and could threaten Kenny Anderson's record of 10 weekly freshman honors. He's averaging 20.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, totals that aren't just good for a rookie.
If it wasn't for Duke's all-everything senior J.J. Redick, Hansbrough would be a candidate for the league's Player of the Year honor and not just Rookie of the Year.
His 40 points against the Yellow Jackets broke the ACC's freshman scoring record held since 1974 by Clemson's Skip Wise.
Not even Michael Jordan, North Carolina's most hallowed alum, came close to 40 points--during his entire collegiate career.
"We had Sam Perkins and James Worthy," said Williams, a Carolina assistant under Dean Smith during Jordan's time in Chapel Hill, "and we didn't need Michael to score 40. We needed all of Tyler's 40 the other night."
Hansbrough's emergence has been a necessity for youthful North Carolina, which has leapfrogged a rebuilding season despite losing all five starters off last year's national championship team.
At 17-6 and 8-4 in the ACC, the Tar Heels are in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament.
"It is pretty amazing," Haith said. "A lot of what Tyler's success is from is sheer determination. Usually that's the thing from high school to college. It takes kids a while to get adjusted to the speed of the game. He is at warp speed right now."
"I don't know that there has been a big man in a long time that's come in to the league and been as dominant," Haith added.