Ben Hansbrough is a terrific player who has an outstanding season for Notre Dame. In no way do I wish to attack Hansbrough when I point out that Kemba Walker is clearly the outstanding player in the Big East conference, and it isn't particularly close.
Look, Hansbrough's two arguments in his favor are a greater percentage of shots made, both from two and three-point range, and the overall superior record of his team. But just as clearly, the first is a direct result of the second, and the second speaks to the options that help make the first possible.
What does Notre Dame have, offensively, that Connecticut doesn't? Well, along with Hansbrough, four other shooters check in at 34 percent or better from long range. For Connecticut, just one other than Walker is at that point- and Shabazz Napier is just above it, at .347 percent.
In other words, the only player defenses really need to key on when Kemba Walker is in the game, perimeter or otherwise, is Kemba Walker.
Despite this, Walker shoots 43 percent overall from the field, despite the fact that just like Pitt at the end of Thursday's game, everyone knows what is coming when UConn has the ball. He outrebounds Hansbrough, 5.2 to 3.8. He has the reputation of a ballhog, and many fewer options than Hansbrough, but is even with Hansbrough in assists per game at 4.3. And the ball is almost always in Walker's hands, yet his 2.1 turnovers per game is lower than Hansbrough's 2.3 mark.
As I suspect we will see as soon as next year's NBA, put Walker on a team with strong talent, and his exceptional skills- getting to the basket at will, creating shots for himself and others, even the chance to play exceptional defense (Jim Calhoun wisely saves him as much as he can these days on the defensive end), will only further manifest itself.
But there are four teams left standing in the best conference in basketball. Three of them are filled with talent. Connecticut's roster is filled with almosts and somedays. And then there's Kemba Walker, the real Big East Player of the Year.