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Just The Sports: Sophomore Slump

Just The Sports

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sophomore Slump

Last year, University of North Carolina freshman Tyler Hansbrough was the toast of the basketball world. In addition to being a McDonald's high school All-American, he was the headliner recruit in Roy Williams' first full recruiting class. He was the only legitimate star player on a team trying to find its identity after losing its top seven scorers off the previous year's national championship team. And Hansborough responded to this pressure by leading the Tar Heels in scoring average with 18.9 points per game on the way to All-American honors.

How quickly things change, though, because Hansbrough in this, his sophomore, season has found himself unable to match his freshman numbers. Comparing his first thirteen collegiate games as a Tar Heel to his first thirteen games in the 2006-07 season finds his sophomore self lagging behind his freshman self in several statistical categories. While he is averaging more shots this year than last year (11.8 to 8.5), he is shooting worse from both the field and the free throw line with a 60.0% true shooting percentage. This may be respectable for an ordinary player, but Hansbrough had a 70.8% true shooting percentage through a baker's dozen set of games in the 2005-06 season so the decline in his shooting efficiency is more than apparent.

In addition, Hansbrough's trips to the charity stripe have decreased even while his field goal attempts have increased, a trouble phenomenon for a player whose major strength is his ability to get to and score from the free throw line.

On the other hand, not all is wrong with Hansbrough's game as a sophomore since he is doing a couple things right. For one, he has drastically reduced his turnover rate (turnovers per 100 possessions) from 14.4 through the first thirteen games of 2005-06 to 9.7 through the first thrirteen games of 2006-07. Also, he has marginally increased his rebound rate from 15.2 to 15.8. His assist rate has remained basically the same.

Fortunately for the Tar Heels, they are such a talented team that they are immune from Hansbrough's sub-par play so the only thing Hansborough is hurting right now is his NBA draft stock.



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