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UNC Basketball: Tyler Hansbrough makes his broadcasting debut

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The Carolina legend’s third act went better than you’d expect.

North Carolina Tar Heels v Kentucky Wildcats Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tyler Hansbrough’s basketball career has taken him around the world. He became college basketball royalty in Chapel Hill. He banged bodies and cashed checks in the NBA before moving on to the NBADL and China. Now he enters his third act, doing color commentary for the ACC Network.

Tyler Hansbrough? On color commentary?

Known for his quiet off-court demeanor and general shyness, you might expect him to be like Monty in “Major League”:

But credit has to given where it is due. Hansbrough, clearly new to this, brought a lot to the broadcast, as he gave play-by-play man Kyle Straub plenty of insights and factoids throughout the broadcast. WRAL and UNC alum Lauren Brownlow was as impressed as Tar Heel Blog:

Below is a list of some of the interesting observations and colorful commentary he made throughout the broadcast:

  • Pointed out that Garrison Brooks was in an excellent position to receive the ball on the block for an easy basket, but just couldn’t handle the ball.
  • Quickly diagnosed Northeastern’s sagging post defense and articulated it succinctly.
  • Clearly did his research on the opponent. Told the audience that Walker was going to be the biggest threat before he went off.
  • Checked himself after saying “turnovers are hurting us... hurting UNC.”
  • Twice said, “I don’t even think he knows how strong he is at this point” about Day’Ron Sharpe.
  • Talked about how frustrating it must be coming off a big win at Duke and then “laying at goose egg at Virginia.”
  • Explained why it was so important for the Carolina bigs to hit that elbow jumper since Northeastern was doubling down low, preventing the hi-low pass. Hitting that shot consistently will force them to abandon the double team at the block and will open up those close looks.
  • Tyler lit up when Kyle brought up Roy’s Air Jordan’s, particularly the 15’s and 14’s. His volume and clarity shot up a few notches when talking about those shoes.
  • Brought up how many shots the bigs were missing close to the rim. Said it would be helpful to get some baskets in transition, which would boost their confidence, and then the “bunnies” would start going in.
  • After Kessler banked in his three, Kyle exclaimed, “That looks like a shot you hit one time in Durham,” to which Hansbrough responded, “I didn’t do a bank. The bank was closed that night.” He’s right. Hansbrough swished that ish.
  • When asked about working on his game in the gym, Hansbrough said, “Quality of work always beats quantity of work. Anytime you’re in the gym for an hour doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting better.” I know that I’m guilty of aimlessly shooting around when I’m alone in the gym. That’s why I never played college ball and Tyler Hansbrough is the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.
  • Correctly predicted that Roy would draw up a screen at the halfcourt line for the final possession with six seconds left, and then also correctly predicted that Love would throw the inbounds pass to the rim for a quick catch-and-drop right before halftime.
  • Tyler reflected on the bloody nose incident when they showed the cardboard cut-out of the girl dressed like him for Halloween. He seemed bemused that networks show the incident on TV over and over leading up to UNC/Duke games.
  • I can’t describe what happened any better than rolling the clip. I will say that when Hansbrough gave his analysis of Walker Kessler during these free throws, there was a moment of dead air, so he probably felt like he needed to say something to add to the broadcast. Unfortunately for Kessler, he’s probably going to get meme’d for this:
  • Made an interesting comparison of scheduling games midseason due to COVID to playing twice in three days during the NCAA tournament. You’ll play on Thursday and then have to prepare for an unfamiliar team on Saturday. The similarly compressed timeline that UNC prepared for Northeastern with is just like being in the tournament.
  • “I told Wes (Miller) if he got Walker’s height, he’d be in the NBA, but something didn’t translate. They are half-brothers.”

This was a unique first game for Hansbrough. The Dean Dome was empty, there was no energy in the building, he wasn’t sitting courtside, and he lacks live game experience. I think that he will improve with each broadcast.

Hansbrough could do with speaking with more enthusiasm. That will lift his volume and may help with the gurgle in his throat, which can sometimes be accentuated by swallowing your words in an effort to speak softly. I definitely don’t advocate forcing enthusiasm like Dick Vitale, but being more upbeat on purpose would be helpful.

Post-COVID, this won’t be a problem as much. If he’s doing a live look in with screaming fans behind him, he’ll have to project more and the energy in the building will give him juice. Hansbrough has the basketball knowledge and jargon down pat. It’ll just be a matter of sets and reps for him, and eventually, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t take over the top spot from Jay Bilas when the time comes.