Roy Williams says he'd rather eat a peanut-butter cookie than watch Tyler Hansbrough and Blake Griffin play one-on-one.
Smart guy, ol' Roy.
And as North Carolina's coach, Williams wants no part of today's NCAA South Regional final between the Tar Heels and Sooners being settled solely between Hansbrough and Griffin.
"But during the confines of the team play, I'd love to watch that," Williams said Saturday. "I think that both of those guys it's a little different, but Blake is perhaps more gifted, more explosive. …
"And Tyler is just so focused in what he's tried to do to make himself the best player he can be. During the course of the game, when they were matched up, I would love to watch that, but only in a team situation.
"Who would read the defense better? Who would throw it back out better? Who would post up better? Who would get to the offensive boards better? I think that part would really be a lot of fun."
Yes it will be.
Hansbrough, a 6-foot-9 senior, was last season's consensus national player of the year. He is the ACC's career scoring leader, North Carolina's all-time leading rebounder, but an uncertain NBA prospect.
Griffin, a 6-10 sophomore, will be this season's consensus choice. He leads the nation in rebounding at 14.4 per game, ranks second in field-goal percentage at 65.1 and is the presumptive No. 1 choice of this year's NBA draft.
Hansbrough has not faced an opponent who matches Griffin's combination of power, leaping ability and body control — he changes direction mid-flight like a guard. Griffin has not encountered an opponent who rivals Hansbrough's ferocity, knack for drawing fouls and shooting range — Hansbrough is comfortable out to about 18 feet.
"I don't watch a lot of college basketball," Hansbrough said. "So if you're going to ask me about certain players, I don't really know a lot about people's games, but obviously Griffin is catching a lot of hype (with) the way he's playing."
Conversely, Griffin views games on TV as often as possible, and given UNC's visibility, he's seen Hansbrough non-stop during the past four years.
"He seems like he never gives up and he's always ready to go," Griffin said. "And just also the consistency he's played with over four years. I don't know how many he's averaged over his career, but obviously if he's the ACC-leading scorer, he's done a great job."
For the record, Hansbrough's career averages are 20.3 points and 8.6 rebounds. Griffin's are 18.7 and 11.8.
Hansbrough's two-handed dunks are workmanlike and leave the rim quaking. Griffin's are one-handed and leave spectators gasping.
A survey of record books Saturday revealed this to be the fourth NCAA tournament meeting of national players of the year, and the first since 1981, when Virginia center Ralph Sampson and Brigham Young guard Danny Ainge hooked up in the Cavaliers' East Regional final victory.
The only other tournament encounter of players of the year manning similar positions was the 1968 Final Four semifinal between UCLA center Lew Alcindor and Houston power forward Elvin Hayes.
It's much like college football's national championship game in January showcasing two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks: Florida's Tim Tebow and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.
But like Alcindor with Lucius Allen and Mike Warren, and Tebow with Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes, Hansbrough is surrounded by the more complete team: Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington at guard, Deon Thompson and Danny Green at forward, Ed Davis, Bobby Frasor and Tyler Zeller off the bench.
"We think we're capable of getting past these guys, but we know it's going to take almost a perfect game from us for that to happen," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "I used the analogy with our guys this morning. I'm a huge boxing fan. It's like when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman. He couldn't go out there and slug with Foreman. He had to find a tactical way. …
"The thing that makes them so special, North Carolina, is they can beat you any way. They can beat you their way. They can slow it down and grind it out because they have so, so many weapons. … They have pros at every position, and then they bring pros off the bench."
One of those pros would fork over some cash to see today's fare, were he not directly involved.
"This is a game I'd pay to see," Lawson said. "I'd pay what it takes to buy a seat right at courtside, too."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime
Hansbrough, Griffin await rare matchup
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