Tag:Ben Hansbrough
Posted on: June 27, 2011 1:00 pm

Ben Hansbrough signs overseas contract

By Matt Norlander

After going undrafted last Thursday night, Ben Hansbrough is heading to Dirk Nowitzki’s homeland to upstart his professional career.

Hansbrough is bypassing workouts and tryouts with NBA teams, instead opting to sign a contract with Germany’s FC Bayern Muenchen, which is based in Munich. The Notre Dame standout who was the 2010-11 Big East Player of the Year (as the seasons pass us by in the future, the fact Kemba Walker did not win this distinction will be a great nugget of trivia) didn’t want to wait around, what with the NBA’s lockout surely set to begin Friday.

“I got a great offer,” he said by cell phone Sunday afternoon from Missouri. “It’s just something that I couldn’t pass up. I feel good about it. … It was tough at first feeling like I should hear my name called [at the Draft] but I can’t change anything about it. For now, I embrace a chance to go make some money.”

Typical honesty from Hansbrough, who was one of the more upfront players I deal with last season.

Bayern went 17-13 in 2010-11, by the way. Hansbrough, who has a one-year deal, will start his season with the team in September, but fly over to the Fatherland a month prior to get acclimated and work on improving his game immediately. Undrafted college players have often spent one, two, three years overseas before getting a chance at earning a living back stateside in the Association.

According to the South Bend Tribune, Carleton Scott, who left Notre Dame with one year of eligibility left, isn’t going to follow his teammate’s lead. Scott will give it a try with NBA teams and wait for the lockout to take its course, losing money and valuable time improving his game on foreign soil.

Hansbrough put up 18.4 points and 4.3 assists per game last season, a year that saw Notre Dame become incredibly formidable in a Big East that sent a record-breaking 11 teams to the NCAA tournament. Hansbrough and the Irish’s run ended prematurely, as the team fell in the third round to No. 7 Florida State.

Photo: AP

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 10, 2011 10:23 pm

Video: Ben Hansbrough talks ND's focus, ability

Posted by Matt Norlander

I wanted to come to New York City to give you something after every game. A quick blog post with some reaction, at the very least.

Then Notre Dame went out and crushed Cincinnati by 38 points. So here's Ben Hansbrough being diplomatic. I'll be back later with a piece on Marquette-Louisville.

More College Basketball coverage

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 5, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 5:09 pm

Hansbrough and co. overshadow Walker's effort

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The difference in Saturday’s game between wasn’t Ben Hansbrough or Kemba Walker, despite fantastic, Big East Player of the Year-worthy performances from both.

What separates the two teams was clearly demonstrated in the final three minutes, with the last possession providing a perfect example.

With Hansbrough on the bench with five fouls, Notre Dame ended the game on a 10-2 run to take a 70-67 lead with eight seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Walker couldn’t find a good look, instead passing off to a wide-open Donnell Beverly in the corner. Beverly proceeded to drop the pass, then fumbled it away as the Huskies never even got a shot off.

Simply put, what makes Notre Dame a Final Four threat and Connecticut a first-round upset candidate is the supporting cast. The Fighting Irish have plenty of secondary options, led by Tim Abromaitis, also capable of 30-point games when shots are falling. On the other hand, Connecticut has an inexperienced and inconsistent group of role players. In fact, Walker outscored the rest of the Huskies, 34-33.

When Hansbrough fouled out with 8:24 left, Notre Dame was up 60-52. Connecticut, led by 11 points from Walker, responded with a 13-0 run. The Fighting Irish showed why they can win without Hansbrough, though, getting baskets from Tyrone Nash, Scott Martin and Abromaitis over the next three minutes to take the lead and pull out the win down the stretch. Meanwhile, UConn completely faltered once Walker cooled down.

When Hansbrough is on the court, the Fighting Irish are a national title candidate.

Notre Dame creates as many match-up problems as anyone in the country. Tyrone Nash, a 6-foot-8 center, can handle the ball and initiate the offense, allowing Abromaitis and Hansbrough to run off screens and get open looks. He’s also a very good passer for a player his size. Martin and Carleton Scott are inside-outside forwards who can score in variety of ways, while also hitting the glass effectively.  Then there’s Abromaitis, a lights-out shooter with 11 efforts of at least 20 points this season.

They still aren’t getting the attention they deserve, but the Fighting Irish are a force for the NCAA Tournament.

As for the Big East Player of the Year race, Walker seemed to grab the lead with an unbelievable second-half stretch, when he scored 17 points in 10 minutes. If Connecticut had pulled out the victory, he would have been the man to beat for the award.

Hansbrough was excellent for the first 30 minutes of the game, going 8-for-9 from the field en route to 21 points. He nailed five 3-pointers and also posted four rebounds and five assists. His fifth foul with 8:24 left, when he lowered his shoulder into Shabazz Napier, nearly erased his effort, though.

Walker was poised to grasp the award.

When he passed up a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, however, he was also passed in the POY race by Hansbrough.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: February 18, 2011 10:07 am

Is Pitt's Ashton Gibbs underrated?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Sports fans love to engage in debate, and we're no different here at CBS blog central. Player of the Year arguments, along with bracket discussions, are always the best barroom (or national podcast) fodder for college hoops fans. I touched on one yesterday when I considered Ben Hansbrough vs. Kemba Walker in the Big East. That post touched off a bit of a Twitter debate (which can be hard to follow as the posts whiz by) about a couple of other candidates, most notably Pitt's Ashton Gibbs (right).

We learned last night that Gibbs will be back from a short injury time out in time for Saturday's trip to Madison Square Garden, where the Panthers will face a St. John's team that is on the rise. It seems as good a time as any to see how he stacks up against his fellow Big East stars.

Here are a couple of tweets, from @bracks7, that encapsulate the frustration some fans feel when Gibbs is overlooked in the media.

@stfhoops Is it the fact #Pitt has more options that #Gibbs is really left of BE POY? #Hansbrough really better than him?

@stfhoops I mean I saw a guy on SNY leave him off 1st team All BE. I almost threw something @ the TV!!
Then, New Jersey-based hoops writer Mike Vorkunov, without having seen my post, threw out his own list of BE POY candidates. He listed Hansbrough, Walker, Georgetown's Austin Freeman and Marshon Brooks of Providence as his top four. It got me wondering if bracks7 was right: is Gibbs criminally underrated by us Typing Heads because his team as a whole is so good?

Is Ashton Gibbs overlooked in the Big East?Let's go to the numbers. I'll use Vorkunov's list, plus Gibbs, to get a feel for where each player stands.

Hansbrough 34.7 17.3 3.8 4.1 1.8/1 1.2 46.7 41.4 81.1
Walker 36.9 23.2 5.3 4.7 2.5/1 1.9 43.1 35.6 77.4
Freeman 33.3 18.2 3.4 2.6 1.5/1 0.7 51.7 41.8 85.1
Brooks 35.7 24.3 7.5 2.0 2.0/3 1.7 48.5 32.7 78.1
Gibbs 31.7 16.3 2.3 3.1 1.7/1 0.4 43.6 46.3 89.7

Based on traditional metrics alone, I have to disqualify Brooks. He's an amazing scorer, but he's doing it with volume because he has to. He's his team's runaway MVP, and an exciting player to watch, but he's no league POY. Freeman's fantastic shooting percentages across the board prove his worth to the Hoyas beyond a shadow of a doubt, and make him a solid candidate.

So, Gibbs. I'm trying to avoid confirmation bias here, but I think bracks7 has basically answered his own question. Yes, Gibbs is an extremely valuable part of an elite team. He has scored 18.93 percent of the Panthers' points when he's on the floor, but his teammates Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Nasir Robinson are all above ten percent in the team impact metric as well. This is a good thing.

Unfortunately for Gibbs' case, Pitt chugged right along without him while he was out. Sophomore Travon Woodall certainly didn't replace Gibbs' production, but he kept the machine humming just fine. Again, this is a good thing.

Leaving Gibbs off the All-Big East first team seems like a mistake, but I don't know who the unnamed SNY pundit chose in his place, so I can't really judge that. As a potential Big East POY, however, I don't think Gibbs has enough of a case. He's a great player on a great team, and yes, he may be underrated by the media and even fans. But when it comes to what really counts, bracks7 sounds the right note of conciliation in his final tweet on the matter:

I guess the last laugh will be Gibbs will be the only 1 playing in the Final 4
If he's right about that, I'm pretty sure Gibbs will enjoy a trip to Houston a great deal more than any old league trophy.
Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:10 am

Hansbrough vs. Walker for Big East POY

Ben Hansbrough a POY candidate? It's not as crazy as it sounds.

Posted by Eric Angevine

When I heard one basketball analyst tout Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough for Big East Player of the Year this week, I was able to dismiss it as one man’s opinion.

Last night, during Cincinnati’s takedown of Louisville, I heard it again, this time from Fran Fraschilla. The former coach knows his business very well, and I always give extra weight to his opinions, because I think he considers his words carefully and backs them with a lifetime’s experience in the game.

So, it’s officially a trend. Let’s look at Ben Hansbrough’s bona fides, because they will have to be pretty good to overcome Kemba Walker’s push to be national POY, let alone lord of the Big East. Here are the traditional metrics by which such things are measured.

Hansbrough 34.7 17.3 3.8 4.1 1.8/1 1.2 46.7 41.4 81.1
Walker 36.9 23.2 5.3 4.7 2.5/1 1.9 43.1 35.6 77.4

Looking at these numbers, Walker pretty clearly comes out ahead, which should come as a surprise to nobody who's watched him dominate games. Where some possible cracks start to show is in those last three percentage-based numbers, which belong to Hansbrough. They point to a possible lack of efficiency (in everything but passing) that could come from Walker's sheer volume of minutes played with a less experienced supporting cast than what Hansbrough has to draw on.

So, let's go tempo-free, courtesy of Basketball State, and see how these two warriors match up in efficiency-based metrics. We're looking at points per 40 minutes (P/40), points per weighted shot (PPWS), effective field goal percentage (eFG), usage rate (URt), efficiency per possession (Eff/Pos), and what percentage of his team's points each player scores (Impact). Explanations of these stats can be found in BBState's stats primer

Player P/40 PPWS eFG URt RebRt AstRt StlRt Eff/Pos Impact
Hansbrough 20.0 1.24 56.8 43.3 7.0 55.4 2.1 0.292 22.90
Walker 25.1 1.08 48.9 57.6 8.5 69.3 3.0 0.334 31.18

For me, this is kind of like the use of instant replay in the NFL. I came in here with Kemba Walker ahead by virtue of the eyeball test, and I see nothing here to overturn the verdict of my peepers. I will, however, have to admit that it's not a runaway performance by Walker, and that Hansbrough's numbers hold up pretty well. It's not ridiculous to include him in the discussion at all, especially since Notre Dame (10-3) is winning league games more consistently than UConn (8-5). When the two played head-to-head in South Bend on January 4, Walker scored 19 and Hansbrough had 21 in a close win for the Irish. It's worth mentioning that Walker shot 23 times and only made 8 with Hansbrough hounding him on defense in that early conference matchup.

For now, my vote's still with Kemba in the Big East. Ben Hansbrough still has a couple of weeks left -- including a huge season-ending trip to Connecticut on March 5 -- to change my mind.
Posted on: January 24, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 10:33 pm

Irish prove worth, get huge road W at Pitt

Posted by Matt Norlander

The country was waiting for Notre Dame to legitimize itself.

Defeating No. 2 Pittsburgh on the road, in the Petersen Events Center, a place the Panthers seldom lose, is as legitimate as the plane ride the Steelers earned to Dallas Sunday night. The Irish were perfectly OK playing a slow game against highly efficient Pitt, defeating the Big East’s highest-ranked team 56-51 Monday night. They did it in a molasses-like 48 possessions, easily the lowest and slowest game in the conference this season.

“That’s music to my ears, because that was our goal,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of the 48-possesion game from the team bus. “We have not burned it for a whole game but we went into this burning the whole night. We did that to them last year, in the Big East tournament. We watched a little bit of that tape last night just to remember.”

It was Notre Dame’s fourth win against a ranked team in this 2010-11 campaign. Last season, it took until the second round of the Big East tournament for Brey’s team to get four Ws against ranked opponents. None of those wins were as impressive or methodical as what his team did tonight on enemy maple.

“I talked to our captains before we left on the bus, I had them up to my room, and told them I need four for four in terms of fighting and competing,” Brey said.

Senior starting point guard Ben Hansbrough — he of the no-longer-an-afterthought variety and younger brother to college immortal, Tyler — was caught by ESPN’s cameras eagerly embracing his head coach once the handshake-line formality was through. Hansbrough (right) led his team with 19 points and 7 assists. He’s taken on the role of being a point guard in his senior year and played beyond what many expected of him. It could be the biggest reason this team is now 17-4 and 6-3 in the most difficult conference in the country.

How's he managed playing the 1 in his final year of college ball?

“Coach has done a great job at slowing down my tempo,” Hansbrough said over the phone just minutes after he walked off the floor. “And I think, instinctively, I’ve always been a guy who can get in there and find people, especially in the lane.”

“Maybe as much as what he’s doing with his basketball is how he’s leading us," Brey said of his senior point guard. "He made us believe. His decisions with the ball, tonight was a great example, but he did the same things Saturday night. His play has been contagious.”

The most important thing about Monday night for Brey's team: It was the first road win in four tries this year for the Irish. Funny how the first comes at what's statistically been the hardest place to snag a W in the past eight years in the Big East.

“What a lot of people don’t understand, for two of those road wins, we were without Carleton Scott,” Hansbrough said.

Despite the fact normally reliable deep threat Tim Abromaitis didn’t make a field goal, Hansbrough and Co. overcame Abromaitis’ bad night, mostly due to the return of Scott, a senior forward. He had his most productive game since coming back from a hamstring injury, scoring 16 and making 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range, adding nine rebounds in the process.

"Carleton — when he came back to practice a week ago Monday, he really lifted the whole building up and lifted Ben up," Brey said. "Ben missed his voice. Carleton and Ben are the most vocal guys of our captains.”

Hansbrough deflected talk and questions about his play, choosing instead to shine a light on Scott’s play and the coaching staff’s pinpoint scouting of the Panthers.

“Coach Brey came in here with a great, great game plan,” Hansbrough said. “We didn’t even try to get a shot off until there was 10 or 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Having Carleton back is a huge key for us. He gives us a lot of heart; you can’t teach or coach it. It’s something you have or you don’t.”

The Irish kept Pitt who, again, has been extremely efficient on offense (the very best, in fact) this season, to a season-low 51 points and 44 field goal attempts. The praise of Notre Dame's effort and execution, with repeated emphasis that this came on the road, can't be overstated. Why’s Notre Dame been able to do this, to be one of those quintessential Big East teams who surprises many and streaks near or to the top of the conference? Hansbrough did his best to explain before being swept away to talk to local media on the scene in the Steel City.

“I would say we have lot of guys, maybe the best team that plays together in the country — we’re right up there with Duke in terms of sharing the ball and playing as a unit,” Hansbrough said. “This could be the jumpstart for some more [good] teams we could beat down the road.”

Brey will give the team two full days off while he goes on the road for recruiting. The Irish don’t play against until they’re at DePaul on Feb. 3.

“I love the gap in schedule we have right now. We could use a little bit of rest," Brey said. "And we’re older, it’s not like our veterans need two hours of practice each day.”

Such a shame, this long break. The country needs to see more of the Irish as soon as possible.

Photo: AP
Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 12:57 pm

Big, bad Fighting Irish can't hide any more

Posted by Eric Angevine

“Son of a gun. I knew I shouldn’t have returned this call today.”

Mike Brey, head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was kidding. I think.

Why did this man, with his expansive personality and booming voice, want to hide? He doesn’t, really, but he wishes his team could stay the way it was at the beginning of the season: overlooked and underappreciated. It’s his own fault, really. His team, 12-2 overall, is winning too much to remain under the radar.

“When I saw it, I was ‘Great! Right there. I love it!’” Brey said, recounting the day he learned his team was picked seventh in the preseason Big East poll. “Probably the biggest reason is the perception that Jackson and Harangody leaving would leave us more decimated than we really were.”

It’s a reasonable theory from someone who knows the way us media types think. Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson led the winningest class in Notre Dame history, both four year players who defined the team during their stay in South Bend. Harangody was the nightly double-double threat who became a second-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics. Jackson was the ultra-reliable point guard who made sure Gody got the ball (huge caveat:) when he was healthy.

“The current nucleus did learn how to win last year when Harangody was down, so they had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because they had some momentum going into the offseason that maybe they could be pretty good,” said Brey. “But Jackson was a big loss, he was a leader. That was my biggest concern.”

But the Irish have one of the more experienced starting lineups in the nation, with all five listed as seniors. The nomenclature is a bit of a dodge, however. Brey admits that Notre Dame lists players with their academic class, not their eligibility. Through a disciplined use of redshirt seasons, the program is able to ‘stay old’ in Brey’s terminology. Only Ben Hansbrough, a 23-year-old transfer from Mississippi State, and Tyrone Nash, a 22-year-old senior center, are completing their eligibility this season. Since Brey uses a seven-man rotation, next year’s lineup is already pretty predictable.

Nonetheless, star power is sexy, and it gains preseason recognition for a program. Brey admits his team lacks that quality, but makes up for it with an all-for-one attitude.

“The word unselfish is always used in basketball, but it’s usually mentioned from an offensive standpoint,” Brey said. “We are extremely unselfish defensively. You can really trust that if you get beat, you’ve got somebody else coming over to give himself up; get his body in front. Our team defense and rebounding take the place of a star.”

Don’t mistake that interchangability for lack of personality, however. The team works because each man plays his unique role. Tim Abromaitis is a poised scoring forward with range. Ben Hansbrough is the edgy veteran whose will to win inspires the troops. Carleton Scott is a shot-blocker who can stretch the defense. Ty Nash is such a good passer that Brey refers to him as the point-center. Scott Martin is the X-factor or glue guy. The two bench players who see significant time are sophomore Jack Cooley ('the brawler'), and Eric Atkins, the team’s true freshman, true point guard who is still adjusting to the nightly beatings he’ll take as a Big East guard.

Physicality is the calling card of this Notre Dame team, which is no surprise. But look at the size of that rotation. Nash, Abromaitis, Scott, Martin and Cooley are 6-foot-8 or above. “Ben (Hansbrough) is 6-5 but he’s strong as heck,” Brey says. Only Atkins, at a listed height of 6-1, falls below the 200-lb. mark.

In spite of that, the Irish aren’t just about pounding the ball inside. Brey believes the team concept gives this year’s lineup more flexibility and plenty of ways to score.

“Controlling tempo, running sometimes, burning clock other times. Getting to the foul line, position defense, rebounding,” Brey listed his options. “Just imposing our will as to how we want to play over 40 minutes. I think we’re really grasping how to do that.”

No. 15 Notre Dame (1-1 Big East) will host No. 9 UConn (1-1) at 7 p.m. tonight.

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 30, 2010 10:22 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 10:32 am

Notre Dame no-names got game

Posted by Eric Angevine

For four years, when one thought of Notre Dame hoops, the image that came to mind was a Chia-esque flat top haircut and a bullish, earth-bound inside game. In other words: Luke Harangody.

Now, the image is... what, exactly? Harangody's monster stats have been effectively spread between three players: 6-8 Tim Abromaitis, 6-7 Carleton Scott and 6-8 Tyrone Nash. All three are seniors, and each is averaging over ten points and six boards per game. And yet, I defy you to pick any one of them out of a lineup of other heroically-sized human beings.

The other key part of Mike Brey's team this year is Ben Hansbrough, who probably gets a little extra attention because fans remember his famous older brother, Tyler. The team's relative newcomer began his career at Mississippi State, but has blossomed into a reliable scorer in two years under Mike Brey. However, unlike his spirited sibling, there's no Psycho-anything in Ben's game. This Hansbrough is steady and workmanlike, much like the rest of his team. Scott Martin, perhaps the most faceless of a faceless bunch, is a fifth senior starter - one who chips in with whatever is needed on any given night.

The Big East preseason poll tabbed the Domers seventh, banishing them to the badlands of mediocrity in a conference that was supposed to take a back seat to the Big Ten in prestige this season. Abromaitis was the only individual player honored, with a slot on the league's second team. Polls are made to be broken, though, and Notre Dame is 12-1, nationally ranked with a freshly-minted win over No. 9 Georgetown on the resume. Only a neutral-court loss to the supremely talented Kentucky Wildcats has kept them from joining Syracuse and Cincinnati in the ranks of the unbeaten.

The Irish had basically the same team on the floor last season when Harangody missed five games due to a knee injury . The lineup gelled so well that 'Gody continued to come off the bench even when he was able to return. Perhaps we should have seen right then that this year's version of the squad would be just fine without star power, perhaps a tad better than seventh place in the league. Four seniors contributing at full strength are turning out to be mightier than four juniors deferring to a future NBA draft pick.

Still, Abromaitis is the closest to a centerpiece this team has in the 2010-11 season. "Probably the difference between him with that group at the end of (last) year and him with this group is, I don't know if you can really worry about one guy ," Brey told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. "That helps him, that we have a couple of different ways of coming at you offensively."

Not to mention defensively. On a night when the Irish shot just 38 percent from the floor, they capsized the typically sharpshooting Hoyas by forcing fruitless trips down the floor, resulting in a season-low 0.86 points per possession for the visitors from D.C. On the flipside, Notre Dame drove their own offensive PPP number to 1.06 by getting Abromaitis open looks from outside (he was 5-7 from behind the arc) and by making the Hoyas pay for cheap fouls. 27 trips to the line produced 22 points.

With five seniors on the floor -- only freshman Eric Atkins (17 minutes) and sophomore Jack Cooley (5 minutes) got off the bench against G'town -- this low-profile bunch is building a team presence that may yet outshine the stars in this year's Big East race.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com