The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SCHMIDT: Hansbrough Big East POY? When pigs fly

It won’t be long before we see pigs fly and Buzz Williams grow a Fabio-styled mane of hair.

After all, we live in a world where Ben Hansbrough is the Big East Player of the Year. Anything is possible. The scrappy, bug-eyed Notre Dame senior guard earned the hardware on Tuesday, making him the least likely winner of the award ever.

It’s not that Hansbrough didn’t deserve it — he probably did. Despite the Big East’s considerable depth, there weren’t many serious contenders for the crown.

That gangly wizard, senior wing Marshon Brooks, had bigger and better numbers but Providence simply didn’t win enough games to make him a viable option. Ditto for junior guard Kemba Walker when Connecticut started fading like Pauly D’s haircut late in the season.

No, Hansbrough was in rare air, the only player who had the right concoction of stats and team wins. His 18.5 points per game are third in the conference and Notre Dame finished with an impressive 25-5 record, second in the regular season standings of the stacked Big East.

More importantly, Hansbrough was consistently excellent from the season opener until now, in victories and in losses, versus ranked teams or bottom of the barrel scum.

Ever since January it seemed like the award was his to lose. So the these last 70 days of the season haven’t been surprising part.

It was the first 20 years of Hansbrough’s life that made it shocking.

For starters, he’s from Poplar Bluff, Mo. Not exactly a basketball mecca. He’s also the smallish, less talented baby brother of former North Carolina star and current Indiana Pacer Tyler. So little Ben has always had big shoes to fill.

The start of his college career was as inauspicious as could be, averaging only 8.8 points per game at Mississippi State. Nobody would have projected Hansbrough to be the future player of the year of what was quite possibly the best conference in college basketball history. But he transferred to Notre Dame after his sophomore year from Mississippi State — and here we are, at the crossroads of a miracle.

Is it that big a deal that a 6-foot-3 white guy from Nowheresville, USA won such a coveted award? This dude named Larry from French Lick, Ind., achieved similar accolades, but that was 30-some years ago. In 2011, in the century of flash and style, Twitter and LeBron, the underdog never wins.

But Hansbrough did. And BYU’s senior guard Jimmer Fredette is the favorite to win the National Player of the Year. What’s happening here?

Hansbrough, self-admittedly, isn’t the most talented guy in the world. He’s stated multiple times that he’s probably the hardest worker in the country, which explains how he came from Poplar Bluff to the national spotlight. Hansbrough has what most players nowadays don’t: substance.

The funny thing is that I don’t even like the guy. Not to wish ill on anyone, but if Hansbrough’s limbs mysteriously started to fall off before the NCAA Tourney, you wouldn’t see me shed any tears.

I’m simply stating the facts here. Ben Hansbrough is the Big East Player of the Year. Over Marshon, over Kemba, over Georgetown senior guard Austin Freeman and Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs. That’s something to applaud, even if Hansbrough’s over-acting annoys you or the thought of Notre Dame succeeding makes your skin crawl.

In 2006 big brother Tyler Hansbrough won the ACC Player of the Year. In 2011, little Ben followed suit, in his own underdog, out-of-nowhere fashion. Guess it runs in the family.

And if you see airborne pork on the way to class tomorrow, blame the walking miracle in a Notre Dame jersey.

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