Three more games, and the college basketball season comes to an end. It's hard to believe that two national semifinals and Monday’s championship are all that separate us from the 2008-2009 NCAA Men’s basketball campaign being history.
The end of the season also means the curtain will fall on Tyler Hansbrough’s college career; the University of North Carolina forward’s unparalleled resume can finally be completed.
Stat sheets like Hansbrough’s have seduced weaker souls to try for NBA riches, yet the perennial All-American will walk off the court in Detroit at some point this weekend having exhausted all of his college eligibility.
Images of the senior forward diving head long across the floor, enduring an endless barrage of fouls, and bleeding from the face seem so commonplace that fans have almost overlooked Hansbrough’s accomplishments this year. Love him or hate him, basketball fans respect the native of Poplar Bluff, Missouri for playing the game the right way.
He leaves the college ranks as the No. 1 scorer in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference (he currently has 2,836 points to his name) and has accumulated 1,200 rebounds to boot. Oh yeah, and the Tar Heels were undefeated at Cameron Indoor Stadium in his tenure.
Hansbrough’s trophy case is filled with All-Americans, a Wooden, a Naismith, and countless other Player-of-the-Year Awards.
Still, the man they call "Psycho T" lacks one thing: a national title. The UNC captain will come face-to-face with that goal this weekend at Ford Field.
With this singular objective so close at hand, Hansbrough parallels the quest of fictional character Jay Gatsby, who F. Scott Fitzgerald breathed life into some eighty years ago.
James Gatz left behind a humble existence in North Dakota to become Jay Gatsby, a millionaire cosmopolite of Long Island’s West Egg.
In creating this personality, Fitzgerald lent a persona to the American Dream. Readers have since associated his protagonist's socioeconomic climb with the possibilities provided by this land of opportunity. The character of Gatsby showed that with hope and the willingness to strive anything is possible.
When Fitzgerald introduces his icon, Gatsby is reaching out his hand in the direction of the Long Island Sound. Off in the distance, the image of a green light can be seen. This glimmer at the end of the Buchanan’s dock symbolizes Gatsby’s aspirations.
Motivated by his love for Daisy Faye (Buchanan), Gatsby amassed a fortune with the hopes the two could "repeat the past" when they were once in love.
Unlike Gatsby, Tyler Hansbrough strives to put the past behind him. But like Gatsby, whose collection of material goods include his rented mansion, extravagant cars, lavish parties, and a glittering library, Hansbrough hopes his previous accomplishments will provide a foundation for what he will do this weekend.
In the end, Gatsby fell short of his dreams.
Maybe, just maybe, Tyler Hansbrough can revive the spirit of Jay Gatsby on the Motown hardwood, but twist the ending of the story just a bit. Perhaps Hansbrough can capture the green light that Gatsby found so elusive.