Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough: Big East Player of the Year?


If SIU is “Floor burn U,” than Notre Dame senior guard would be “Captain Floor Burn.” He’s even grindier than his brother Tyler in his playing style and tries about as hard as anyone in college basketball. Hansbrough didn’t make any preseason Big East all-conference teams, but Sunday he was the only player to be a consensus all-first team pick.

Meaning he’s probably the favorite to win the conference player of the year award. Hansbrough has led ND to double-bye in the conference tournament and a second place finish in the regular season behind Pittsburgh with his ability to both run the point and play off the ball. He’s a finely conditioned athlete who works on his quickness everyday with his unique folding chair drill on the practice court.

“Ben was born with a chip on his shoulder,” as ND Coach Mike Brey glowingly said after the Irish senior night victory.

By Paul M. Banks

Ben Hansbrough

And of course, Hansbrough is known for his three-point shot. He’s one of the deadliest shooters in the country, but today a more complete player. At Mississippi State, he was known as a three-point shot specialist only, but as his shot has developed, so has the rest of his game.

And he gives poignant soundbites too.

“I know people look at us and don’t take us seriously because we’re white,” Hansbrough was quoted last week. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up when it comes to ND detractors. There really isn’t too much else to say about those who think the Irish are overrated and ready to fall.

Want to know more about hansbrough? Here’s an interesting and personal interview by John Heisler of the Notre Dame Sports Information Department

Growing up with two older brothers, we did almost everything together. Greg was the oldest, and we were always very competitive around the house in anything wedid. Tyler and I had the opportunity to play on the same high school basketball team, and that’s probably been my favorite team, up there with our Notre Dame team this year. It’s been a blast growing up in our family.

It wasn’t just in sports, it was anything around the house. It was being the first one to get ice cream at Dairy Queen or TCBY. We always wanted to beateach other.

Mississippi State was the first big school that offered me a scholarship. I was a young highschooler whose game was about to elevate to a new level. I jumped on the train and thought that was the best train I could get on back then. My game continued to improve to another level and then another level. And I realized Mississippi State didn’t match what I was about as a player and as a person.

I knew what I really wanted. Something where I could be a part of a team for the rest of my life. When I came to Notre Dame, I felt it. I knew this was what it was all about. I didn’t even visit another school.

When I talk to my brothers, we don’t really talk a lot about basketball. Tyler will call and congratulate me on the season, but we don’t really break down details of the game. Every time we talk, it’s more catching up, seeing how we’re doing. Basketball is such a big part of your life, but when you get around your brothers, basketball seems to fade out.

I went to Detroit for the Final Four. I was really focused on enjoying the moment and watching Tyler win his national championship with Carolina. It was being happy for him and cherishing the moment.

My personal workout has changed a little. I’ve changed up my game shots. I’ve added stuff, taken stuff out. The concept is the dedication of the routine every day. It’s about an hour every day. I’ll change it based on whether we played a game yesterday or three days ago. But the drills I do really are mostly the same.

The year after I transferred, when I was sitting out, I spent a lot of time in the gym by myself, just shooting. The biggest difference this year is how I’ve prepared mentally. I had the work ethic and the physical part of it is one thing. This year it’s about the mental strength I’ve had to prepare and help this team prepare. It’s about focus. That’s the difference.

With our team this year, it’s all about one concept. It’s about everybody believing and buying into the system. If you expect things of yourselves, you can go out there and achieve things. We’ve had a great focus and mindset when it comes to that all year.

I love finding people with the ball. I love other people hitting shots. I love it when other eople are playing well. It’s always fun to get other people going.

I don’t care what position I’m playing. I just go out and play. Coach (Mike) Brey has done a great job of molding me from more of a two guard to more of a point guard and teaching me how to run a team. He’s been really good with kind of shaping me as a point guard.

When there’s time, I hang out with friends and listen to music. I like to eat fish, chicken, a lot of things. I like good food. I really enjoy just hanging out with my friends. I watch a lot of NBA. I watch a little college. I don’t watch a lot of other college basketball. I have my NBA team and I’m a fan.

The BIG EAST is fun, but it’s one of those things where we’re just so focused. It’s a feeling of just being really, really focused. When we get done with this ride, we’ll look back on it and think, man, that was fun.

But the ride’s still going on. We can’t say it was fun yet — because it’s not over. We have to continue to stay focused and push ourselves.

I used to very superstitious. But when it’s all said and done, you can’t allow your mind to be so weak that you feel like the way you put on your socks isgoing to change the way you play. Once you start to do that, it becomes allabout how you put on your socks. Then it becomes the way you open your car door or the way you start your car. That can drive you crazy.

I want the only thing that affects my performance to be the way I prepare mentally and physically.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports and

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank


  1. [...] Irish have a Big East Player of the Year front-runner in Ben Hansbrough and a conference (and national) coach of the year candidate in Mike Brey. Hansbrough was the only [...]

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