Olivier Hanlan Buries Georgia Tech and Scoring RecordPosted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013
Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.
With about six and a half minutes left in the first half, ACC Rookie of the Year Olivier Hanlan had four points on six shots. Boston College was down 12, but its press looked lackadaisical and its offense stagnant. During the under-eight media timeout Steve Donahue told Hanlan to be more aggressive and that Mfon Udofia was breaking the press by getting off to a quick start. Hanlan cut off Robert Carter Jr.’s pass, ran right into the big Georgia Tech freshman, drawing the and-one. The game was never the same and the Eagles ended up winning by 20 points.
Hanlan went on to hit the rest of his shots to score a ludicrous 41 points on 18 attempts. Over half his points came from beyond the arc, but his performance was so much more than good shooting. He hit runners, he hit lay-ups, he created, he spotted up, he drew fouls. Hanlan’s final shot summed up his performance perfectly. On a crisp pass from Ryan Anderson, he squared up and took his 10th three. The ball went all the way around the rim and off the backboard before falling through the net for the last of his 41 points. The performance broke Harrison Barnes 2011 scoring record for a freshman, but Steve Donahue pulled Hanlan with two minutes left, keeping Lenny Rosenbluth’s ACC Tournament record intact.
After failing to score in the first 5:16, Boston College’s offense looked like a well-oiled machine. Constant ball movement and off-the-ball rotation left Georgia Tech two steps behind. It helped that Hanlan couldn’t miss a shot, but his teammates held up their end of the bargain too. After the game Donahue stressed his team. He made an effort to insert Joe Rahon or Ryan Anderson into answers to questions about Hanlan’s performance. He convincingly claimed ignorance with respect to the freshman scoring record. “That’s not something I ever talk about. These two [Hanlan and Rahon] have had an incredible season, but it’s all about our team and I would never want to think that something like a record was more important than what we do,” Donahue maintained despite having pulled Hanlan immediately after he broke the freshman record.
And despite feeling forced at times, Donahue’s point makes a lot of sense. Hanlan can’t do it himself and he didn’t. He was the star, but Donahue’s system is designed to create open shots with constant movement. Seven of Hanlan’s eight threes were assisted. More field goals were helped by spacing.
The Eagles lost six ACC games by five points or less this season. Last year they lost three similar games, never winning a conference game by more than four points. This year’s team is miles better. Sure, it still has a ways to go to be good (or great), but remember Andrew Van Nest is the only Boston College upperclassmen averaging more than 10 minutes a game (the rest of the rotation is freshmen and sophomores). This team is trending upwards — both this season and looking towards the future. The Eagles gave Miami all the Hurricanes could handle in mid-January, and don’t expect them to go down without a fight Friday either.