ACC Basketball: Hansbrough could break record tonight
By Aaron Beard
CHAPEL HILLó Tyler Hansbrough didn’t seem fazed by all the questions about how close he is to breaking the career scoring record that has stood for 30 years at North Carolina. The prospect of giving a speech to the home fans to celebrate the moment, however, is another issue.
“I’m going to have to plan something,” Hansbrough said Wednesday. “It would be pretty bad if I didn’t get the record (with) with all this anticipation.”
Standing nine points away from passing Phil Ford, the senior is likely to set the mark when the top-ranked Tar Heels face Evansville tonight considering he has failed to score in double figures just six times in his career. It would be the latest accomplishment in a career filled with them for the reigning national player of the year, who has already earned the right to have his No. 50 jersey retired when he graduates.
Ford set the record with 2,290 points in 1978. The record has stood despite notable names like Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Antawn Jamison coming through the program in the years since, though Jordan, Jamison and Rashad McCants would have been within reach had they not left school a year early for the NBA.
When he opted to return for a final run at the national championship, Hansbrough was already No. 2 all-time and needed just 123 points to pass Ford. The only thing that slowed him was a preseason shin injury and a bruised ankle sustained against UC Santa Barbara that sidelined him for four games, though he said he’s getting closer to game shape.
Now, the guy who would rather talk about the team once again finds the focus solely on him.
“Everybody wants to talk about the scoring record, which is a pretty good accomplishment,” he said. “But once it is over, I’ll be glad to focus on some other things.”
Assuming Hansbrough sets the record, the school plans to stop Thursday’s game for a brief presentation from Ford and coach Roy Williams. They will present Hansbrough with the game ball before resuming the game, then show a video montage from Hansbrough’s career afterward. Then, if Hansbrough can handle his nerves, he’ll likely address the Smith Center crowd.
Ford, now an assistant coach to fellow Tar Heel alumnus Larry Brown with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, said he felt it was important for him to be there when Hansbrough sets the record.
“Until someone would actually mention it to me, I would forget sometimes that I was the leading scorer,” Ford said. “Because it was just one of those records where scoring is such an unimportant part of Carolina basketball. We never cared who puts the ball in the basket as long as it goes in for a Tar Heel.
“I’m just really happy for him,” Ford added. “He’s a great person and a great player, and I’m glad he chose to go to North Carolina instead of another school.”
Hansbrough, who has a career scoring average of 20.2 points per game, is also on pace to pass Sam Perkins for the school’s career rebounding record. He’s within reach of the Atlantic Coast Conference career scoring mark set by Duke’s J.J. Redick (2,769 points) in 2006 as well as the NCAA record for made free throws in a career.
Hansbrough had a chance to break the school scoring record in Saturday’s 100-84 win against Oral Roberts. He hit his first five shots and finished with 26 points before Williams pulled him with the game in hand late. Afterward, the rest of the Tar Heels seemed more eager to talk about the record than Hansbrough, who needed two stitches in his left knee after crashing into the broadcast table at midcourt.
“To be honest, I don’t think he would know about the record if no one told him,” fellow senior and roommate Bobby Frasor said. “He’s not looking in the record books or anything. … We never talk about it and he never mentions it. But I’m sure subconsciously he’s thinking about it a little. I think when he looks back on it, he’ll see how impressive it really was.”
Junior teammates Deon Thompson put it more simply: “He’s basically a legend.”
As for Hansbrough, he’ll be glad to have all the buzz about the record behind him even as he appreciates its historical significance. But will he keep track of his point total in his head during the game?
“No, I won’t,” Hansbrough said. “I’ll probably know when it happens.”
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