Here's a short piece I produced for the local sports radio station. It's hard to reflect back in such a quick turn-around on how far this team had come over the course of the past few years. Every starter had dramatically improved in at least one area from when they first arrived on campus and together they evolved into the best team in college basketball this season. There have been countless game recaps written, but let's take a look at some of the other questions that have arisen from the Heels winning.
Tyler Hansbrough has never been my favorite Tar Heel, but I've never wanted a player to get a championship as much as I wanted him to win. Much of the post-championship talk has centered around number 50, so I'll start there.
Is Tyler Hansbrough the best Tar Heel ever?: He's the most decorated without question, but best is a different question. He's the best four year player since Phil Ford without question, but to use his numbers to prove his worthiness is a red herring. Hansbrough's numbers have an artificial inflation that many in UNC's history do not. In 2005, First Team All-American Sean May and ACC Rookie of the Year Marvin Williams left for the NBA. The result was a starting spot for Hansbrough. Starting shouldn't be counted against Tyler, but should be acknowledged when considering many Carolina greats did not have that opportunity. If people argue that it must be someone that brought the school a championship, are Tyler's 17.5 pts/game and just under 8 rebounds/game in the tournament worthy of a place at the top of the mountain, when his tournament performance was dwarfed by Sean May's incredible run in 2005? On the flip side, May wouldn't even be considered by most for the best Tar Heel of all-time. Blending both numbers, tournament performance and a championship ring, it's hard to best James Worthy. Worhty was the leading scorer of the '82 championship team, co-National Player of the Year, and the NCAA tournament MOP. If we hop in the way back machine the other obvious candidate, Lennie Rosenbluth led the 1957 Tar Heels to an undefeated season and a championship. He averaged 28 points/game, almost 9 rebounds/game and defeated Wilt Chamberlain for the National Player of the Year (although there may have been some other forces in play in 1957 *cough*).
Would Tyler start on the All-Time Carolina Team?
A continuation of the previous question, but my answer remains the same, no. When I first started thinking about this question, my initial thought was to include only guys that played at least three years, but considering that the university saw fit to honor both Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace after only two years of service, who am I to leave them out of the discussion. I do think one and done guys should not be eligible (i.e. Kevin Durant at Texas), with the exception of Carmello Anthony, because he delivered a title in his one year. While Marvin Williams helped win the '05 title, he did not start and therefore would be considered ineligible. When I pick my All-Time team, I pick not based on numbers, but as if I was a captain of a pick-up team trying to assemble the best pieces. First Team: Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Billy Cunningham, James Worthy and Rasheed Wallace. Second Team: Ty Lawson, Walter Davis, Antawn Jamison, Tyler Hansbrough, and Sam Perkins. Round out the roster with Charlie Scott and Sean May. Bob McAdoo could certainly make the team, but given the one year rule, I'm forced to leave him off.
Has Tyler cost himself money at the next level?
Initially, yes, but not necessarily in the long term. By staying an extra year at Carolina, Hansbrough may have cost himself between three and four million dollars on his rookie contract, but also improved his midrange shooting. Being drafted later will have no bearing on his ability to earn a substantial second contract, but his improved shot may. Carlos Boozer was drafted in the second round, but signed a $70 million dollar contract. Moving down in the draft could be beneficial in the long run as well. Rajon Rondo playing with a better team has undoubtedly helped him develop faster and if Tyler ends up on a winning team, he could be just the type of contributor to help push them over the top. The only way this move costs Hansbrough is if he's injured or a bust. With his work ethic and ability, Tyler should be able to stick in the league long enough to get a second contract and if he does that, the amount of money he "lost" to win a national championship will be relatively small.
Is Roy under-appreciated as a coach?
Yes. He's often referred to as a recruiter first, which is tremendously important, but also a subtle jab, like calling a quarterback a game manager. Roy's players improve and come together as a team, which is the direct result of his coaching. He's in elite company, becoming the 13th coach to win multiple championships, but only nine have won with different rosters.
If Roy wins another, is he a better coach than Dean?
Personally, I think this is a question asked only by ABCers in an attempt to erode Coach Smith's legacy. Roy's a tremendous coach, all of his players improve, he's one of, if not the, hardest working recruiter in the country, and despite the incessant claims by those outside the program, his teams can play defense. Much of the same could be said about Coach Smith, but what separates the two, and why I don't think Roy is merely being humble when he says he's nowhere close to Dean, is innovation. Some of Coach Smith's were more subtle, players could raise their fist to indicate they needed a break or when a player scored he was expected to acknowledge the passer, but his four corners offense was one of the greatest or worst innovations in basketball history. Coach Smith was also never afraid to stand up for causes away from the court, either. It's not to suggest that Coach Williams is, but from the moment he's been on campus, he's been a star, but Coach Smith was not when he was a civil rights activist in the 60's. With any healthy father-son relationship, the son doesn't set out to be better than his father, he tries to make him proud. More importantly, coaching should not be judged, as both these men will tell you, by championships, but rather by the young men the program produces.
Was the game on too late?
Yes, and the ratings showed it. Screwing the eastern time zone while two teams from the time zone play, is a bad idea. Can we compromise and have the tip time based on the higher seed in the game? 8:00, 8:30, or 9:00 EST (or EDT, whatever) based on the higher seed would seem logical, perhaps too logical.