Summer League Game #1: Hansbrough, Overtime and McRoberts' Beard

If Tyler Hansbrough wanted to show fans that he could score in the high and low post, then consider it done. The Pacers' first-round pick scored a team-high 17 points and had five rebounds in the team's first summer league game, a 75-67 OT win for the Blue and Gold over the combo team of New Jersey/Philadelphia.

Not that scoring 17 points in a summer league game should mean a lot. Understand, for instance, who holds the record for most points scored in a summer league contest. That would be the Pacers very own Travis Diener, who once dropped 34 points in a game. Lesson? Summer league box scores are like Josh McRoberts' furry, Charles Manson-like beard. Don't go searching through one alone, you don't know what you might find.

But Hansbrough still put on a good show, despite four personal fouls in the first half. He picked up only one in the second half, made 6-of-13 field goals and went 5-of-8 from the charity stripe. He also looked fluid in the offensive sets on the high post and played well alongside center Roy Hibbert. You can see a full box score here. You can also read a short recap on the same page. But here are some of the notes that I took throughout the contest about your Indiana Pacers.

First of all, we're going to pretend that I did NOT fall asleep for about five minutes of the fourth quarter. This was my first experience watching a entire, full-length summer league game and I know now that I need a full 12 hours of sleep to get through one. Somehow I managed to not become dormant during the OT period. This despite having the greatest commentators analyzing the game ever. But there were plenty of highlights, especially early. Here are a sampling of in-game notes that I took.

1st Quarter

  • The Pacers offense looks positively, absolutely stagnant. Unless you call jacking up 3-pointers with 21 seconds left on the shot clock as part of a normal and positive process. Oh wait, now I remember seeing this offense for 82 games last season. Glad to see that offense still coming along.
  • Tyler Hansbrough just stole the ball, ran coast-to-coast and flushed down a dunk, which prompts Dante and Galante, the sarcastic announcing team, to quip "Wow. That was awesomely boring." I wonder if Josh McRoberts can top it...
  • Pacers player Scott Vander Meer checks in and immediately clocks a defender with an illegal screen, again prompting Dant and Galante, "Probably the most illegal screen I've ever seen." Vander Meer follows his excellent picking skills with a doozy of a missed field goal. In a related story, Vander Meer plays only three minutes for the game.
  • Brandon Rush is doing everything he can not to take the ball to the hoop. His role in this game is entirely devoted to being the facilitator for the offense, or he is personally instituting Norman Dale's three-pass policy.
  • A.J. Price < Travis Best
  • Price neglects a wide-open Hansbrough at the top of the box by driving carelessly into the lane. He then drills a buzzer-beating runner to pull the Pacers within 20-17. Price = Best.

2nd quarter

  • Josh McRoberts answers Hansbrough's challenge with the Dunk of the Game and probably of the summer league. He electrifies the crowd of 25 people, but his beard is credited with the two points.
  • Lots of missed wide open 3-point shots. Rush ends up with a shooting nightmare for a box score, clanging 1-of-6 from beyond the arc and going only 4-of-18 from the field overall.
  • Dante and Galante point out team president Larry Bird, who is standing in the corner of the gym thumbing through his BlackBerry. "He couldn't be less interested right now."
  • Roy Hibbert continues a horrid first half by getting stuffed by the backboard, throwing a bad pass and, finally, turning into the lane for a jump hook, only to run smack dab into an opposing player who kindly takes the ball away from Hibbert like a grandmother taking a basket of blueberry muffins from a girl scout. My theory: Hibbert's body is in absolute shock from being free of foul trouble and riding the pine. His bodily functions have just shut down. That's the only explanation for him playing like a D-II prospect.
  • Hansbrough, who spent most of the half in the high post, gets down on the box for a post-up, but McRoberts throws a bad pass leaving fans thirsting for another low-post opportunity from Hansbrough. I'm guessing that we're going to see one.

2nd Half

  • The third quarter opens with another Hibbert turnover, then the following notes: "HIBBERT DUNKS!" followed by "HIBBERT REVERSE DUNK!" Anything is exciting after you've played like Gheorghe Mureşan for a half.
  • Beautiful pass from McRoberts from the left wing to the inside paint to get Hansbrough the bucket and the foul.
  • Rush is still struggling with his shot and instead of using his quick first-step to fly by the defenders, he's settling for jump shots. Better learn to get over that quick if he wants to be the shooting guard of the future.
  • Hibbert displays a picture perfect right hook shot in the lane. And this is where I pass out on the keyboard from boredom. We're skipping to final seconds of regulation.
  • Game tied with 21 seconds left and the Pacers have the ball. Hansbrough gets the ball on the right block, goes up to the rim but leaves the ball short (probably was fouled). After a NJ/Phil miss, Will Blalock sees the opportunity of a lifetime to make an NBA team by throwing the ball so far off course that Rush has to land on the baseline to get it, thus giving the opposition the chance for the win with 0.6 seconds left.
  • Overtime: The opposition decides that people need more summer league basketball. Awesome. Technical foul on Mareese Speights. Trey Johnson misses the foul shot. Yada, yada, yada. And the Pacers win 75-67.

Best Player: Josh McRoberts was all over the place and although he didn't score in bunches (only four points) he nabbed six boards, had a team-high four assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Maybe it was the beard, maybe it was the summer league, but McRoberts did look better than last year.

Best 2nd Half: Hibbert rebounded from the awful first half to finish 6-of-10 from the floor with nine rebounds and the most important stat of all: two..count 'em..two fouls. He seemed just a step behind the entire game and never got good position in the post. His defense wasn't the best either.

Best rookie: Jrue Holiday, who the Pacers passed on to select Hansbrough, was awful today. The stat line shows it, but he looked even worse during the game. Bad shots, ill-timed isolations and just bad decision-making. Hansbrough looked OK on defense, but his offense was really good as he ran the Pacers offense well. He functioned well in the high post and showed a couple of on-the-block moves. Good game.

Finally, the players who aren't signed to contracts with the Pacers left a lot to be desired. Price, who was the team's second round choice, had a great game, and Trey Johnson did alright. But Blalock (who would receive the Worst Player Award for today), Anthony Smith and Vander Meer weren't good in any way. Also, four other players received DNP - Coach's Decision.

So that was your first look at Hansbrough and the young crop of players on the Indiana Pacers. If you missed it, the team will be in action all week and you can catch them live online at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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