Oct 29, 2012, 2:00 AM EDT
Two seasons ago, do-it-all guard Ben Hansbrough graced the floor of Purcell Pavilion in which the Irish finished with a perfect 18-0 home record. So when Friday night rolled around the bend, Hansbrough had the opportunity to play in familiar territory having made the Indiana Pacers 15-man roster a few weeks prior. This time, however, the stakes were a bit different – no longer were the stands filled with Irish blue and gold, but rather they were filled with largely a sea of red in support of the “home” team: the Chicago Bulls. This was the NBA stage.
Jump back to the miraculous run made by the Irish two years ago and recall that Hansbrough earned BIG EAST Player of Year honors en route to a second place regular season finish and number two seed in the NCAA tournament. Hansbrough was the critical playmaker, someone who could create his own shot with ease, distribute willingly to open teammates, and above all, will the Irish to victory in close contests. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Friday’s return to Purcell was beyond special for Hansbrough.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to step on this court and come back and play here, it’s a thrill especially to do it at this level,” says Hansbrough, who logged five minutes of first half action. “It’s just another dream to come back and play at Notre Dame.”
Although the stat sheet suggested a relatively quiet night for the 6’3″ guard, Hansbrough greatly appreciated the opportunity to return home which provided him the opportunity to catch up with old teammates and coaches. He’s also understandably excited for Notre Dame’s upcoming season.
“Everyone’s more experienced, especially guys like Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant in Coach Brey‘s system. I saw today they were ranked 22nd preseason, and Coach Brey always does better than what people expect, so it should be a really fun year.”
In addition to playing professionally with the Pacers, Ben has reunited with his older brother, Tyler, who played at North Carolina and won a national championship there in 2009. The two grew up playing basketball together and pushing one another to reach their utmost potential. Now that they’re back on the same team, Ben feels even more comfortable adjusting to the professional level.
“He’s taught me how to approach the game,” explains Ben. “He’s given me tips on how to work out, how to train, and be really professional about it. Watching how he handles his business, it’s helped because he has always been a role model of mine.”
That bond and connection with his older brother has certainly kept Ben focused on the season ahead. Playing at Purcell Pavilion at the end of the day was another business trip on the season-long quest for a championship.
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