Tyler Proud Of "little" Brother Ben's Irish Career
March 2, 2011
If you want to make Tyler Hansbrough's face light up and his chest swell with pride, don't ask him about how well he has played lately.
Ask him about his little brother.
OK, Ben Hansbrough isn't exactly little. He's a 6-3, 203-pound point guard for Notre Dame and a leading contender for Big East Player of the Year. But big brother is 6-9, 250 and the former national college player of the decade, so by this family's standards, it fits.
Tyler had the rare opportunity to watch Ben play live on Monday in South Bend and saw quite a show. Ben scored 30 points, hitting 7-of-10 from the 3-point line, as the Irish blasted Villanova 93-72 on senior night in Purcell Pavilion.
"I was just happy for him," said Tyler. "Honestly, I can't believe he's done with college basketball. I've seen him play a little bit and I was thinking how different it's going to be. I enjoy watching Carolina but there's nothing like watching your brother play. It's going to be different. I'm not going to be into that much college basketball anymore – unless Carolina's playing."
Since transferring from Mississippi State after the 2006-07 season, Ben's game took off. With averages of 18.4 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds – not to mention a .437 percentage from the 3-point line – he has emerged as a driving force behind Notre Dame's remarkable season. The Irish, 23-5, are ranked No. 8 nationally in The Associated Press poll.
Though separated by just a couple of hours, Tyler hasn't had many openings in his NBA schedule to see his brother play. To be free to watch his final regular-season game was a real occasion.
"I've seen him probably play live four or five times the past two years, so it was special," Tyler said. "I was happy for him because he was playing so well. I'm a proud brother."
Though both Tyler and Ben are known for their toughness and competitive spirit, both look up to oldest brother Greg for inspiration in that department. When Greg was 7 years old, doctors discovered what they thought was an inoperable brain tumor.
Not only did he survive the life-threatening surgery, he regained full motor skills and ultimately developed into a top-flight distance runner.
"Greg's gone through more than anything we could ever imagine," Tyler said. "Seeing what he's been through and how he's overcome brain cancer, that's something we can never touch."
The brothers share a tight bond formed through years of typical rough-housing. OK, maybe not so typical, considering these are Hansbroughs we're talking about. Tyler and Ben won two Missouri state championships as teammates on the Poplar Bluff Mules.
"It was one of those relationships where maybe you fight but at the end of the day you go home and you're still friends," Tyler said. "He'd say anything to me and I'd say anything to him. If I wasn't playing good he'd be the first person to tell me and if he wasn't playing good I'd be the first person to tell him. That's the type of relationship we had.
"We're both funny. Off the court we like to goof around but on the court we're serious and pretty competitive. A lot of people like to compare our toughness. We're tough guys because we like to win. We're competitive."
Though scouts aren't completely sold on Ben's future as an NBA prospect – if he lights it up in the NCAA Tournament, he might climb into the picture as a possible second-rounder – Tyler has no doubts.
"Nowadays, it seems like people are drafting more on pure athleticism and I think the trend is you're seeing more players that can play go out and get the job done," he said. "Ben's athletic and he can do a lot of things, but he can play. He's a pretty good player so we'll see what happens. I hope he gets a shot."
Now that would be big.