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Hansbrough' shin causes Heels hoops anxiety

Tyler Hansbrough is out indefinitely with a stress reaction condition in his right shin.

Hear that? That whoosh? It's the collective breath of North Carolina fans being taken away.

John Bazemore/AP
Tyler Hansbrough is the first national player of the year to return to school since 1991.

What other reaction is possible when your best player, the reigning player of the year and a three-time first-team All-America is out indefinitely with an unfamiliar injury? The good news – if there is any when an injury is reported – is that the Heels are taking precautions.

An MRI Thursday revealed the stress reaction, which can lead to a stress fracture. So Hansbrough's going to be sitting out of practice until further notice.

UNC coach Roy Williams won't comment until after he meets with Hansbrough and the school's medical staff on Friday. But I can't imagine he says too much about Hansbrough other than he'll be evaluated often, and sit until the staff thinks he's ready. Williams isn't about to jeopardize a chance at a national title by making a foolish move in November.

After all, the Heels were just tabbed as a unanimous No. 1 in the coaches' poll. Expect the AP poll to do the same on Friday.

Ultimately, this shouldn't affect the Heels in March. It's hard to believe Hansbrough's right shin won't be the most closely monitored body part on the East Coast this winter and spring.

I'm not worried about UNC and its title aspirations, but I do hope Hansbrough is healthy soon. He's college hoops' biggest name and the star of the nation's No. 1 team.

It's not Tom Brady going down for the season, but it will hurt the game's overall visibility. No Hansbrough updates on SportsCenter, fewer splashes in USA Today, etc. It's like kryptonite for the casual fan.

Guess Stephen Curry will have to carry the superstar load for a while.