On College Basketball | Williams ever the gracious victor

Posted: December 05, 2007

During a time-out late in the first half, North Carolina coach Roy Williams took off his glasses and crouched in the Tar Heels' huddle to demonstrate how his rebounders had to snatch the ball off the glass.

A victory for Penn: Williams had to coach a little bit.

The 106-71 final score at the Palestra last night may have been inevitable, but the Penn Quakers at least got their part of it legitimately, not waiting for garbage time. Williams said he mentioned afterward in his locker room that he was considering 12 straight days of two-a-days to work on defense.

"Jokingly," Williams said at his news conference. "But they don't know it's jokingly."

Tar Heels big man Tyler Hansbrough lived up to his image again, scoring 29 points, ignoring the forearms in his back, not noticing the scoreboard.

"I've never had anybody more focused and more driven than he is," Williams said.

But last night's other star wasn't one of Hansbrough's UNC sidekicks. Tyler Bernardini, a freshman forward at Penn, had 26 points after making 8 of 9 shots in the first half.

"I told our staff, 'Why the dickens didn't we recruit him?' " Williams, the gracious guest, said.

Penn senior Brian Grandieri had pointed out to his younger teammates that they probably wouldn't see a No. 1 team come to the Palestra again.

"Relax and compete," Grandieri told them.

Nobody's kidding anybody: Penn had the lead for only five seconds - and the score was tied for another 71 early seconds. The Tar Heels didn't hit many jump shots (and no three-pointers in the first half) but revved up their fastbreak. However, the Quakers didn't feel like roadkill in this one.

They got a couple of backdoor layups, but Williams explained that he can live with a couple of those as long as there are some turnovers to go with them. His prime concern is defending the three-pointer.

"I'm very good at math - they add up faster," Williams said.

The atmosphere was about as good as the place gets. When Hansbrough walked on the court for warm-ups, he saw the home crowd had done its best to match Duke's Cameron Crazies. In one corner, he was greeted by a Penn student section holding mimeograph photos - of his mother, a one-time Miss Missouri.

"The whole [North Carolina] team was laughing," said Lindsay Motlin, a Penn senior from Long Island who sat in the front row.

Hansbrough laughed, too.

"I guess it's kind of funny," Hansbrough said. "But . . . I don't really like people talking about my family. I laugh about it. I thought it was funny - not much I can do about it."

In other words, he was gracious, but really not up for replacing former Duke star J.J. Redick as the great villain of college hoops. The guys from Penn's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity were ready for Hansbrough, too. Some of their alumni in Washington knew some people who knew some people who had online access to Hansbrough's high school graduation photos - which did look sort of fashion-spreadish.

If they wanted any more donations from D.C., the fraternity brothers were told, they would get that photo on ESPN2. They blew it up huge and held it up whenever Hansbrough shot free throws in the first half. The rest of the section held up the mom photos.

"The crowd was getting on him early and that made me feel good," Williams said, saying that ensured Hansbrough's full focus against a 2-7 opponent.

When out-of-towners come into the Palestra, they usually are asked to pay homage to the place.

"I thought it was great," Hansbrough said. "I always like playing in these little gyms like this. It kind of reminded me of high school."

And his coach didn't mind coaching a little bit.

"Hey," he yelled at one point. "Run back! Come on!"


Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.

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