From the opening minute of the game, when Hansbrough’s blocked shot led to a Reyshawn Terry slam to give UNC a 2-0 lead, it was clear Roy Williams’s philosophy of run first on offense and in-your-face man-to-man defense hadn’t changed, despite losing its seven top scorers.
The Tar Heels forced 27 turnovers and made 12 steals, while holding the Broncos of the Division II’s CIAA conference to 35.7 percent shooting from the field.
Hansbrough, the stone-faced 6-foot-9 newcomer from Missouri, ran untamed for a game-high 26 points, 20 of which came in the first half. He was 11-for-14, on a myriad of inside opportunities he earned through relentless offensive rebounding and tenacious open court defense. Hansbrough finished with eight rebounds and four blocked shots in 24 minutes of action.
If that wasn’t enough for his first appearance in front of UNC fans, Hansbrough also converted three of his own steals into end-to-end fast break dunks.
“He gets pretty fired up,” Williams said. “He poses a little bit and chest bumps a little bit, but he’s pretty much in his own phase.”
Hansbrough has already earned a nickname from his teammates: “Psycho T,” for the enthusiasm he showed in the weight room as soon as he arrived on campus.
“When he’s doing dumbbell curls, he likes to look at his arms and say, ‘Let’s go!, let’s go!’” laughed David Noel.
Along with Hansbrough, three Tar Heels finished in double-figures – Terry (16 points), Noel (14) and Danny Green (11). The impact of the freshman class was evident immediately as, after the Terry dunk on the opening possession, the next 25 UNC points were all scored by freshmen.
After committing an unofficial 50 turnovers in two September scrimmages in Nassau against Bahamian club teams last month, the Tar Heels were at least competent in protecting the ball with Quentin Thomas and Bobby Frasor taking turns at point guard.
UNC committed 18 miscues against the Broncos, with this year’s starkly dissimilar personnel performing in its first organized game in Chapel Hill.
Thomas finished with six points and zero assists, while Frasor had seven points and four assists. Both made two steals, with Thomas turning the ball over twice and Frasor once.
Thomas started the first half at the point and Frasor started the second, while also playing significant minutes at the two-guard. After the game, Williams said he has no idea who is going to be the starter at the point.
“I really haven’t spent one second thinking about who is starting; I really haven’t. We’re just trying to teach our principles.”
Carolina, which opens its regular season Nov. 19 at home against Gardner-Webb, dominated nearly all facets of the game; shooting a blistering 60.7 percent from the field in the second half and 55.6 for the game. The Tar Heels also converted 21-of-29 free throws (72.4 percent).
However, the Broncos out-rebounded UNC, 41-36.
“One scary thing is to know that we’re going to play much tougher teams and they out-rebounded us,” Williams said. “In the two previous years that I’ve been here, we’ve been one of the Top 10 rebounding teams in America.”