And it is all his fault if you listen to the ABC rabble.
During Roy Williams' radio show, he indicated Tyler Hansbrough was diagnosed with a mild concussion during the Miami game. Hansbrough complained at one point about blurry vision in one eye and was seen with a gauze his nose at one point. According to ACC Now, UNC doctors have not confirmed the concussion though I would venture to say, based on the way he was playing it was clear something was off.
I think we have reached a point of extreme frustration where the officiating of Tyler Hansbrough goes. Not that his possible concussion was the result if improper officiating. However it is clear Hansbrough is getting the living crap beat out of him on a regular basis with limited intervention from the referees. By most non-UNC fans this is seen as "what goes around comes around." Hansbrough plays a very physical style of basketball. No one on the Tar Heel side disputes that. Yes, Hansbrough does initiate contact on defenders. Yes, Hansbrough does a good job beating offensive players to the spot and drawing charges. I am not going to sit here and proclaim that Hansbrough is completely innocent in the way he plays the game but I also do not think it is nearly as bad as many people think.
On the flip side I also think there is a difference between the nature/intent of Hansbrough's contact versus some of the fouls defenders are committing on the other end. Hansbrough might jump into a player or back them down on the dribble creating a lot of contact but in my estimation none of that is done so in a malicious or dangerous manner. However a defender who flatly pushes Hansbrough onto the floor from the paint or hacks Hansbrough across the arm or swings an elbow is doing something with intent and possible dangerous at the same time.
What I am getting at is yes, there is some reasoned equating you can do between fouls Hansbrough may or may not commit with his contact versus some of the contact he receives from defenders. I think you could go through a game tape and reasonably extrapolate instances on both sides and say: "Well Hansbrough got away with three fouls but there were three times in which the defender committed non-egregious contact that was not whistled so let's call it even." Those instances are not the issue. The problem as I see it is there are any number of times during the game where defenders make egregious contact and it is not being called. These instances happen on top of the ones you probably can explain away by equating non-calls.
Roy Williams compared it to the same manner in which teams "defended" Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA which relied on heavy fouling since O'Neal sucked at the line. In this case I think opposing players have decided to make contact with Hansbrough as much as possible. They have decided to jostle, bump, hack or do whatever to stop Hansbrough from getting into position or when he has the ball from getting the shot off. I will grant some of that is okay. I also think some of it is being used in lieu of actually playing any real defense. The opposing viewpoint says this is the leveling of the playing field since they refuse to call fouls on Hansbrough's contact, not calling it when defenders do it makes things even. As I said, some equating of non-calls is fine but you cannot reasonably argue that Hansbrough getting pushed out of the lane onto the floor is the same as the contact Hansbrough makes on offense. You cannot tell me that when a Miami player hacks Hansbrough on the arm in the lane with the senior center caught in a double team that is leveling the playing field. The contact Hansbrough endures seems to be more egregious(granted I am biased) and this season seems more frequent and allowed by the officials.
I actually loathe talking about officiating because I think teams win games by putting the ball in the basket. The problem I am having here is I think the manner of officiating is handicapping one of the more important parts of the Tar Heel offense. So far the Heels have done a great job with the way some games have unfolded. Hansbrough continues to show great restraint despite the physical nature of the game. Still some of the rough play that is coming from opposing teams should really be watched more closely. That being said, the Heels can mitigate some of it by doing a better job getting the ball to Hansbrough in a position he can score from before the defense can react. That also strikes me as something missing a little this season and does create some situations where Hansbrough gets hammered with no hope of scoring.
Whatever the case it will be interesting to see what direction officiating goes in the NCAA Tournament. Since most of the officials who are on the ACC rotation tend to get NCAA Tournament assignments, it likely will not change much.
UPDATE: Or to quote THF reader sc11 from 850's blog:
Let me know when TH opposition recieves broken teeth, bloody noses, and concussions. Since it goes both ways