UNC Basketball: Seth Greenberg recalls Tyler Hansbrough’s game-winner

Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg recalls the time that Tyler Hansbrough ‘started running around like a gecko’.

Former Virginia Tech head coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg left the bench in 2012 after a coaching career that spanned more than two decades.

A head coach at three Division I programs dating back to 1991, Greenberg won nearly 400 games, two regular season titles and two conference tournament titles. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2008, and his Hokies knocked off the nation’s No. 1-ranked team on two occasions — Wake Forest in 2009, and Duke in 2011.

And despite the fact that it’s been nearly seven years since he graced the sidelines, Greenberg still hasn’t forgotten the time in March of 2008 that Tyler Hansbrough and the top-ranked Tar Heels beat his Virginia Tech squad in the ACC Tournament, effectively ending their season — in spite of his strenuous objection of the NCAA selection committee’s decision to omit the Hokies from the NCAA Tournament (He had a valid argument given the Hokies’ 9-7 record and fourth-place finish in the country’s best conference).

In a tie game with just over seven seconds remaining in regulation, sophomore point guard Ty Lawson dribbled the ball to the right side of the painted area and tossed up a bank shot that fell flat off the glass. After bouncing off of a few sets of hands, it was first team All-American and ACC Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough that came up with it.

With just over two seconds left on the clock, Hansbrough squared up for a shot and released the ball. The 15-foot baseline jumper sailed straight through the hoop, and gave No. 1 North Carolina a 68-66 lead with just under a second of game time remaining.

By the time the ball made its way through the net, Hansbrough was high-stepping his way down the court in the opposite direction, pumping his arms in jubilation. The pro-North Carolina crowd was going wild, and Greenberg’s squad was just 0.8 seconds away from going home.

Greenberg recalled those final moments in a recent ESPN article in which former coaches were asked their thoughts on whether or not a team should foul in late-game situations.

"“I lost a game to Tyler Hansbrough in the ACC tournament in a free throw situation,” Greenberg said. “This wasn’t the exact scenario, but there, we were up by one — they missed a free throw, they back-tapped, and Hansbrough got the ball and scored on a jumper — started running around like a gecko. The size of your frontcourt matters.”"

The details of the game’s final moments are a bit different in Greenberg’s memory; quite possibly because he’d rather forget it. After all, that shot may have been the biggest reason that his Hokies didn’t make consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008.

It all worked out in the end, though. At least for us, the viewer. Greenberg, along with a team that includes longtime analysts and former Blue Devils Jay Bilas and Jay Williams, as well as host Rece Davis, form the best College Gameday crew that the show has had in its 14-year run.

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