PSYCHO T didn't
stand a chance. During North Carolina's annual team paintball blowout last
month, sophomore forward Tyler (Psycho T) Hansbrough made a break for it,
launching a screaming, Rambo-style solo raid on the center flag. "We don't
play 'You're shot, you're dead,' so Tyler took a pounding," says teammate
Bobby Frasor. When the paint-smeared Hansbrough finally stumbled back to
safety, he couldn't help but notice the location of the nation's finest
recruiting class. "All the freshmen were in the back huddled behind a tree,
not wanting to get hit," he recalls with a laugh. "Meanwhile, I got
nailed about 47 times."
Tar Heels fans
can only hope the story isn't a metaphor for the coming season--and they have
reason to believe it won't be. After a rookie campaign in which he became the
first freshman to lead Carolina in both points (18.9) and rebounds (7.8) per
game, the 6'81/2", 244-pound Hansbrough has added 10 pounds of muscle and
improved his jump shot, hook and inside countermoves. Even more important, he
figures to be liberated by a deep supporting cast. "Last year we didn't
have a big offensive rebounder down low when they double-teamed Tyler, and now
we should," says coach Roy Williams. "We're also hoping our perimeter
guys will be better so that it'll be tougher to double- and triple-team Tyler,
because he's awfully tough to defend with just one guy."
research showed that Hansbrough would have been picked somewhere between 14th
and 24th in June's NBA draft, Hansbrough maintains that he never seriously
considered turning pro. "I really like this place, and I'd like to see how
far we can go in the tournament," he says. Several observers thought
Hansbrough was the most impressive post player during summer pickup games in
the Dean Dome that included such Tar Heels NBA alums as Brendan Haywood, Sean
May and Marvin Williams.
for Hansbrough's success is a daily routine that leaves his teammates and
coaches floored. "Tyler's more disciplined about doing the right thing for
his body than anyone I've ever seen," says Roy Williams. That means
stretching four times for every practice and game, lifting weights 12 hours
after games and eating a gut-busting six meals a day. Eschewing the Midwestern
fare that he grew up on in Poplar Bluff, Mo., Hansbrough scarfs down foods rich
in protein and other nutrients. "At 11 o'clock the other night he was
cooking bison," marvels Frasor, his roommate.
the Tar Heels' strength and conditioning coach, also has Hansbrough eating
ostrich and sushi. "I remember introducing Tyler to sushi one night, and he
was stabbing at it with his chopsticks," says Sahratian, who gave him the
nickname Psycho T for his primal screams during weightlifting sessions.
"Now he goes and orders, like, nine rolls. He even eats baby
just some hoops-playing cyborg, however. While much was made of the crying
outburst by Gonzaga's Adam Morrison during last year's NCAA tournament, it had
nothing on Hansbrough's teary reaction in the locker room after the Tar Heels
lost to George Mason in the second round.
The next day
Psycho T was back in the gym. "Tyler's not going to get fat and happy at
23, not at 26, not at 29," says Roy Williams. "On the day before he
gives up basketball, he'll have a tremendous workout. I believe that from the
bottom of my heart."