Hansbrough: No bad blood with Duke player

Updated: March 6, 2007, 6:00 PM ET
Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Tyler Hansbrough insists there's no bad blood between him and Duke's Gerald Henderson, who broke the North Carolina star's nose in the closing seconds of the latest Tobacco Road showdown.

Hansbrough said Tuesday he hasn't heard from Henderson, who flagrantly fouled him with 14.5 seconds left in North Carolina's 86-72 victory Sunday.

"I was upset when it happened," Hansbrough said in his first public comments on the subject. "I don't think he did it intentionally. I don't really like talking about it because I really don't know how to handle the situation, but I'm fine right now. I feel fine. I was kind of shocked my nose was broken. ... I just thought it was a really bad nosebleed."

Hansbrough had an inch-long bruise below his right eye Tuesday but otherwise showed no visible signs of the fracture. He was hurt shortly after rebounding his own missed free throw late in the game and going back up for a putback.

Henderson leaped to block the shot; after the ball left Hansbrough's hand, Henderson's right elbow appeared to strike the Tar Heels' center in the nose, sending him crumpling to the floor.

Asked if it was the hardest hit of his life, Hansbrough deadpanned: "Are we talking about on the court or off?"

Blood poured down Hansbrough's face and onto his lip, his chin and the court, and he had to be restrained from Duke players as he went to the locker room. Henderson was ejected and received an automatic one-game suspension for Duke's ACC tournament opener Thursday against North Carolina State.

Henderson and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski have repeatedly said there was no intent to injure, and ACC officials consider the matter closed.

"We all know the kind of person and player Gerald is, and we have his back on it. We know he didn't do it on purpose," Duke's DeMarcus Nelson said. "At the same time, sometimes unfortunate things happen. It's out of our control, so we have to roll with the decision that was made."

North Carolina freshman guard Wayne Ellington played with Henderson in high school and is a close friend.

"I've been getting all types of questions about it," Ellington said. "It's an unfortunate situation to have happen, and basically we're trying to move on from it."

Earlier in the game, Hansbrough was hit by an elbow that loosened one of his upper teeth. He might wear a custom-made mask when the top-seeded Tar Heels begin ACC tournament play Friday.

"I'm not too crazy about the mask," Hansbrough said. "It's one of those things where they strongly recommend me wearing it. But at the same time, I have no problem taking it off."

Hansbrough is a consistent scoring threat who leads the team and ranks among the ACC's leaders with averages of 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. He also leads the conference with 259 free throws attempted.

"It's not that he's always looking for contact. It's that he's not a jump-over-the-moon guy," coach Roy Williams said. "He has a tremendous focus, the best focus I've ever seen about making the basket. A lot of guys will try to draw contact and throw it up. Tyler goes in reverse -- he tries to make the basket and, 'Oh, yeah, I got fouled, too.'"


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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