Why Tyler Hansbrough Isn't Getting Minutes

Your 2008 and 2009 Naismith College Player of the Year award winners. While both would like to forget 2009-10, one is having a much more enjoyable time on the court in 2010-11.

Pacers employee Conrad Brunner has a new article with some quotes from both Coach Jim O’Brien and Tyler Hansbrough about why he isn’t playing — and what he needs to do to get some time. For the uninitiated, this is Tyler’s second season technically, but he’s really a rookie. He missed 53 games last year, most due to an inner ear infection that gave him vertigo-like symptoms. Overall, he only played 511 minutes during his first year, which, for reference’s sake, is fewer than Mike Dunleavy, Jr. has already played this season.

After that ordeal, which was presumably rather frightening to Tyler and disconcerting to Pacers fans who had just watched their team take the Tar Heel 13th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, it was nice to see Hansbrough ready to get back on the court at the beginning of the year. But that’s the thing — he hasn’t really been on the court much. And some fans are starting to wonder exactly what is going on, even taking to chant “We want Tyler” inside Conseco Fieldhous during Indiana’s blowout victory over Toronto on Monday night.

Here’s why Hansbrough is riding pine, according to O’Brien.

O’Brien uses his big men as facilitators in the offense, which means they must be able passers, particularly from the high post. Hansbrough was used to having the ball thrown to him throughout his college career, so he must work on sending it the other direction.

“He’s never been a passer,” said O’Brien. “If you have thrown 10,000 passes from that position coming into the pros, it seems comfortable. I don’t know how many times in high school in college he got the basketball at the elbow. It’s a matter of repetition. We try to put him in those situations as much as possible at practice and he’ll get it.

“It just takes a lot of first-year guys time, especially when you have to change what has made you successful in the past. But his attitude, his aggressiveness, his passion for the game is all there and those are the ingredients, once he gets all these other things, will make him the type of player that we drafted.”

A recent blog post by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star cites basically the same thing, stressing the Tyler needs to perform better from the high post to get on the court. Wells understands, but doesn’t buy it completely, noting that he believes Tyler should at least be getting some minutes.

As it stands, since before Thanksgiving, Hansbrough hasn’t played more than 13 minutes in any game, has recorded two DNP-CDs and only got garbage minutes against both Utah and Toronto.

I agree with fans, I think Hansbrough should get some court time.

He’s not ready to be a rotation player yet, but it wouldn’t hurt giving him some spot minutes every now and then.

An example of that was last week at Utah. The Pacers were flat and Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap were doing work on the boards.

I’m not saying Hansbrough would have had a huge impact on the game, but he would have given the Pacers some life and he could have mixed it up a little bit with Jefferson and Milsap in the paint.

What does Tyler himself think about all this? Well, I’m sure he wants to play — everyone in the league aside from Baron Davis wants more time on the court. But at least publicly, he totally understands the situation. (Quotes from Bruno’s piece)

“I think it’s just a matter of coach trying to build up his confidence in me,” said Hansbrough. “Obviously, the guys on the court are doing something good and we’re winning ballgames. That’s what’s important right now. As far as my playing time, I just have to earn it through practice.

“I feel like as the year goes on I’ll see myself play a bigger role with the Pacers. I just have to earn coach’s respect. He’s one of those guys where you’re not going to just walk on the court and get playing time. I’m not saying I haven’t earned his respect already but I’m trying to get there.”

Nice work, Tyler. Maybe you can run for office some day. One final comment really shows his media savvy when dealing with interviews with Pacers Sports and Entertainment employees.

“The team’s bigger than me,” Hansbrough said. “My playing time will come.”

Nailed it.

Tags: Blake Griffin Tyler Hansbrough

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