When I got into my email this morning, I found one from my good friend Rory. You guys know Rory...right?
I'm sure many of you received the same message asking for analysis on UNC's title run. His implied mandate, "...and breakdown the potential 'x-factors,' or non-obvious, yet important keys to the team continuing it's run toward the Final Four... " made it tough, though...since the North Carolina keys to victory are in fact, obvious.
While I often relish the opportunity to thoroughly research and share anomalous, bizarre, curious, and obscure statistics and pummel the very few readers I have with numbers and historical snapshots which will of course, support the opinion I'm trying to convince you is the Biblical word of Sean, the foundation for this argument is simple, obvious, and... in-argue-able (yea...I made that word up!).
Tyler Hansbrough is the kind of kid you want on any team. I would call him Captain of my winter intramural Curling team. This season's cumulative averages of 21.4 ppg, and 8.2 rpg are monumental on a team that plays eight to 10 players every game and can't even come close to encapsulating his contribution to this team's success. His 52.2 FG percent, 34 steals, and 85.5 FT percent in 2008 simply add to his standing as arguably the best college basketball player of all time.
But the truth is his heart, determination, toughness, leadership, attitude, persistence, and motor lead this team on and off the court. He's never been in trouble, never shot himself in the leg, hasn't fathered 13 illegitimate children, and hasn't called his teammates shortcomings out in public. He is an MVP in every imaginable way...but he's not the "X-factor": he isn't the key to adding one more title and generating another Franklin Street parade...
The truth is this team won't get past Gonzaga without Ty Lawson. As the departure of extremely talented Marquette and Tennessee teams has shown...you need a prime-time point guard. This isn't an insult to Bobby Frasor, but he's no Ed Cota, or Ty Lawson for that matter.
As great as Tyler Hansbrough is, he can't create for himself and others; Ty Lawson can. He can beat defenses down the floor, get open looks for Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and Tyler Hansbrough, and also score himself.
Lawson's 15.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, and 6.5 apg average tell most of the story, but his 53.8 FG percent, 46.7 percent 3-pt shooting , and 61 stls make him invaluable against the tough best and toughest teams. He can penetrate, or shoot from outside, and he can kick it out or make an interior pass for any easy dunk. His most important stat however, is his tremendous 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio, second in the nation only to Pittsburgh's Levance Fields.
Turf-toe or not, the Heels wouldn't have made it past LSU last week without Ty Lawson on the floor. He is the QB and coach on the floor, and a sure-fire All-Star at the next level. He's the "X-factor" Roy Williams needs to cut down one more net.