Josh Heytvelt can’t recall many specific plays from Gonzaga’s 82-74 win over No. 2 North Carolina in 2006, but he clearly remembers one source of motivation.
Brent Musburger and Steve Lavin were on the call for the Zags’ upset, but Heytvelt recalls watching Dick Vitale during ESPN’s pregame coverage rave about Tar Heels’ forward Tyler Hansbrough, a sophomore at the time who would eventually earn four first-team All-America honors, three as a consensus pick.
“At least for me, the hype for that game started with Dick Vitale and he was talking about the Diaper Dandy Tyler Hansbrough,” Heytvelt said. “I was really motivated from him talking about how good Tyler was.
“It was literally like nobody else was going to play in the game besides Tyler. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that wasn’t the case.”
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Hansbrough, who came in averaging 22.3 points and 8.7 rebounds, finished with nine points, nine boards and four turnovers. Heytvelt had one of the best performances of his career with 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Heytvelt and Hansbrough didn’t always guard each other, but they crossed paths frequently. Heytvelt swatted a Hansbrough dunk attempt, pinning the ball against the backboard in the first half and later rejected Hansbrough’s jump hook.
“Hansbrough was talked about a lot in the media,” former Zags guard Derek Raivio said. “That was really Josh’s coming-out party. People knew about Josh on the West Coast, but he really came onto the national scene. He had some serious blocks, he was hitting jump shots, getting inside.”
Heytvelt called North Carolina’s visit to the McCarthey Athletic Center on Wednesday “extremely beneficial and historic for the program. I know we’re a powerhouse school now, but these types of things solidify it across the board.”
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