Olivier Hanlan Validates ACC FrOY Award With 41 Points Against Georgia Tech

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 14th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

In case anyone was wondering what the biggest story of Day One at the ACC Tournament will be, it’s already been decided. Boston College knocked out Georgia Tech in the opening game of the tournament behind a 41-point effort from their much-debated ACC Freshman of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. The score book reads like a video game. Forty-one points, 14-of-18 shooting including 8-of-10 on three pointers. Five rebounds, three steals and one emphatic message sent to the rest of the ACC: “I’m here to stay.”

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Olivier Hanlan made eight three-point shots in Boston College’s first-round win over Georgia Tech. (Photo via Boston Globe)

Boston College has been an intriguing team all season because of its youth and potential but its inability to close out games against Miami, Duke and NC State at home left the team near the bottom of the ACC despite losing those games by a combined seven points. Those experiences were eventually going to help build something and that something came to life over the last four games in the form of four BC wins and correlating solid performances by Hanlan. The last three games saw Hanlan average 17 points per game and wrap up the ACC Freshman of the Year award while Rasheed Sulaimon lost his starting job in Durham. Thursday’s performance only solidified his case.

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All-ACC Microsite Teams and Postseason Awards

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 12th, 2013

Another great season in the ACC is in the books and it’s time to recognize those who had outstanding seasons with our postseason awards. We here at Rush the Court’s ACC Microsite have decided to hand out our own awards based on what we believe is a unique set of criteria and, while it may not differ wildly from what the actual outcome of the award races is, just know we all voted prior to their release. Here are this year’s All-ACC Microsite Teams and ACC Postseason Awards.

Note: Jimmy Kelley, Ethan Mann, Kellen Carpenter and Matt Patton all voted for first-, second-, and third-teams as well as their top three for each of the individual awards. A first place/team vote was worth three points, second worth two and a third place/team vote was worth one. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker was high-quality votes (i.e., more second-team votes).

ACC Microsite Player of the Year

Erick Green, Virginia Tech: Green nearly swept the voting, grabbing three of four first-place votes. The nation’s leading scorer, Green was the lone highlight for a Virginia Tech team that went 4-14 in ACC play, finishing dead last. Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin garnered a co-Player of the Year vote on the other ballot.

Erick Green, Virginia Tech

Erick Green of Virginia Tech garnered the ACC Microsite’s highest honor.

 

All-ACC Microsite First Team

  • Mason Plumlee, Duke
  • Erick Green, Virginia Tech
  • Joe Harris, Virginia
  • Richard Howell, NC State
  • Shane Larkin, Miami

Notes: Plumlee, Green and Harris were unanimous selections for the first team. Howell and Larkin received one second-team vote apiece.

Second Team

  • Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
  • Seth Curry, Duke
  • Michael Snaer, Florida State
  • Kenny Kadji, Miami
  • Ryan Anderson, Boston College

Notes: Bullock and Curry each received a first-team vote. Anderson holds on to final spot due to having more second-team votes than Alex Len.

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Focused Practices Helped Butler Rebound From Its VCU Debacle

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 8th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an RTC correspondent. He filed this story after Thursday night’s game between Butler and UMass in Amherst.

Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs suffered one the most lopsided losses of the conference season last Saturday when they were on the wrong end of an 84-52 blowout at the hands of VCU. In the days following the loss the Butler players had team meetings while Stevens and his staff ran some of the most intense, focused practices they have had all season. The result? A convincing 73-62 victory over a scrappy UMass team on the Minutemen’s senior night Thursday. Eleven points may not sound convincing but Butler played their game the entire night and had a near-capacity crowd of 9,341 scrambling for the exits before second-to-last media timeout of the second half.

Roosevelt Jones, Maxie Esho

Roosevelt Jones (right) and Butler rebounded from a 32-point loss to knock off UMass on Thursday night. (Daily Collegian/UMass)

“[The VCU loss] hit hard,” Butler’s Andrew Smith said. “We knew we had to make changes, define everyone’s roles. We told certain guys ‘we need you to do more of this and less of this.’ If everyone plays hard we’re a tough team to beat.” The win was Butler’s first in over a week after losses to VCU and St. Louis sent the Bulldogs into a bit of a tailspin. Ranked as high as #9 in the AP poll this season and with wins over Indiana and Gonzaga on their resume it was apparent that something had changed over the last week and it was something Stevens was going to have to work on fixing. UMass had given several teams scares this season and employs their own fast-paced style under coach Derek Kellogg, but the Bulldogs had seen what real pressure defense is and would not be shaken by the Minutemen.

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Julius Randle Not ACC Bound After Cutting NC State From Final List

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 6th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

Julius Randle is one of the biggest, fastest and most highly sought players in the class of 2013, but as of Wednesday afternoon, ACC teams don’t have to worry about seeing him next year on a daily basis. The five-star forward from Texas officially cut NC State from his final list, according to SNY‘s Adam Zagoria. Randle also cut Oklahoma from his list and is now down to four non-ACC schools: Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, and Florida. This deals a major blow to the hopes of Mark Gottfried’s incoming recruiting class and will stand to keep Duke’s impressive class at the top of the ACC.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle has cut NC State from his final list. (Photo via PackInsider.com)

Zagoria’s report, which came from a conversation with a source in Texas, doesn’t change the fact that the Wolfpack still have a very impressive incoming class with three top-100 recruits in Anthony Barber, BeeJay Anya and Kyle Washington. What it does change is where the ceiling for NC State next year resides. Scott Wood and Richard Howell are graduating, C.J. Leslie will almost certainly go pro, and the status of Lorenzo Brown, Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren could come down to the very last moments. Replacing any of those players, especially Howell and Leslie, will be very difficult, and a player with Randle’s impact would have been able to handle that responsibility better than Anya or Washington.

Randle spent a majority of his final prep season on the sideline with a foot injury but has returned to action in the last few weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery and be an immediate star for the team he decides to play for next season. Kentucky and Kansas are expected to be the front-runners for his services, and he would join star-studded classes at either school. No date has been set for his final decision but it could come late in the process as fellow five-star recruits Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins mull over their own decisions. Both players are also reportedly considering Kentucky, which begs the question as to where all these superstar recruits would find enough playing time in John Calipari’s star-studded lineup?

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Erick Green and Mason Plumlee Are all-ACC First Team, But Who Should Join Them?

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 4th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

Unlike the ACC Player of the Year Award, All-Conference honors are handed out based on who had the most outstanding season in relation to the other players in the league. However, much like the POY award, there are different schools of thought about how the team should be ordered. Do you honor the five best players regardless of position, or do you fill it out like any other team with one player from each of the guard, forward and center spots? Personally I believe in the former and based on that there are two players who simply cannot be left off of this year’s All-ACC first team: Erick Green of Virginia Tech and Mason Plumlee of Duke. But who has earned the other three spots? There are a handful of contenders for those three slots with a few playing their way onto the team and a few others on their way out.

Mason Plumlee Erick Green

Mason Plumlee and Erick Green are shoo-ins for All-ACC honors.

After Plumlee and Green the first logical place to look is at who has played well in big games and has the stats to back up their play on the court. The first three players that come to mind here are Richard Howell, Shane Larkin and Joe Harris. Each plays a major role for his team, each is his team’s steadying force and each player has had a transcendent game against Duke.

Howell’s may be the easiest case to make because he is the truest center in the league and is averaging 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in ACC games (12.8 PPG/11.1 RPG overall) and his 16-point, 18-rebound effort against Duke was one of the first truly impressive games of the ACC season. He is the rock on an otherwise inconsistent team that has gotten mixed results from both their talented freshman class and star junior forward, C.J. Leslie. This has not been the season many thought was in store for the Wolfpack, but without Howell it could have been much worse.

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NC State Forward TJ Warren is a Man Without a Position

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 27th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham

At some point in the 118-year history of basketball it was decided that each player on the court had to have a set position with a skill set that lent something to the way the game was played. These positions — point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center — held up for the most part through the years with players falling into one of the positions based on their height, athleticism or abilities with the ball in their hands. Recently, however, these positions have become somewhat amorphous with the advent of the “stretch four” and “combo guard” creating their own archetypes on which young players can model themselves. One such player who defies all classification is NC State’s 6’8″, 233-pound TJ Warren — a man without a position.

TJ Warren, NC State

TJ Warren can take it to the post or off the bounce. But what position should we say he is? (Photo: Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Warren was a McDonald’s All-American in high school who could score in every way imaginable and even some ways that players hadn’t thought of yet. Physically he would fit into the old mold of a power forward but athletically he would fit more naturally into the small forward role. He isn’t a natural jump shooter which means his effectiveness on the wing would depend purely on his ability to get into the lane and score around the rim, much like a younger LeBron James before he developed his outside game. Warren has played both the small and power forward at times for the Wolfpack but giving him a position other than “forward” would pigeonhole his game too much, so we will just stick with the general term.

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How Not to Beat Duke: What Virginia Tech Did Thursday Night

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 22nd, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham.

Virginia Tech is one of the most infuriating teams to watch in the ACC. When your best player is the nation’s leading scorer the list of other things that need to go right in any given game to get a win is actually pretty short. It starts with playing good enough defense so that the game doesn’t reach the 70s. If that can be accomplished, the rest of the team — nine players playing 10+ minutes per game — need to score a total of somewhere around 40 points. On Thursday night, the Hokies did neither and actually played so poorly on defense that they posted the blueprint of exactly how not to approach an upset bid against Duke.

Seth Curry, Duke

Seth Curry scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half against Virginia Tech on Thursday night. (AP Photo)

The odds of Thursday’s contest being close were pretty poor to begin with, but with the way they played defense and let the Blue Devils impose their will early and often sent that possibility completely out the window. NC State and Miami created the blueprint of how to beat Duke this season and although the Hokies don’t have the personnel to execute that type of game plan, they at least could have tried to make life difficult for Duke. The Blue Devils made eight of their nine three-point attempts in the first half and let Seth Curry get hot from deep. Mason Plumlee is the crux of Duke’s attack and stopping him should be every team’s first priority, but any positive work a team gets down low against Plumlee can be rendered completely useless if Curry is allowed to do what he did on Thursday. When Curry is working it not only opens up the drive-and-kick game to the weak side, but forces more defensive rotation and leaves Plumlee plenty of space to work inside. Everything starts at the arc for Duke and if they are hot from deep, few teams have a chance of beating them.

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Maryland: The Most Confusing Team in the ACC Could Still Be a Problem in March

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 20th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham

At one point during Maryland’s 83-81 win over Duke on Saturday, the Terps looked like a team that could do no wrong. Throughout their 68-59 loss to Boston College on Tuesday it looked like they could do no right. In a microcosm of Maryland’s season, the Terps followed up what should have been their signature win with what will be pointed to by the bracket experts as a signature loss. However, despite the disappointing result on Tuesday night, Maryland still has all of the tools to make life difficult for teams like Miami, NC State, and Virginia in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

Alex Len, Maryland

Alex Len (right) and Shaquille Cleare (left) are two of the reasons why Maryland could be a tough out this postseason (AP Photo)

We hear the same story every year: Guard play wins games in March. With that in mind, Maryland sounds like a team built to make life tough on a better team when the games start to count a little more. Seth Allen had one of his best games in conference play on Saturday and Dez Wells helped keep Maryland on top with his efforts in getting to the line. But despite how good the duo looked in stretches, they still managed to turn the ball over 14 times between them, with seven of those miscues coming in the final five minutes when Duke battled back to tie the game. For Maryland to make any sort of run in March their guards will need to play more like they did while building the lead than they did in the last five minutes.

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Who is the ACC FrOY? Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon or Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan?

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 15th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham.

There are two awards in each conference that spark the most debate — Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. While one has many different definitions and, depending on whom you ask, could be given to three or four different players every year, the other is much more objective. The ACC Freshman of the Year is given annually to the first-year player who has had the most outstanding season. Nothing about value, impact or how good the respective player’s team was, just that he had an outstanding season. With this being the generally agreed-upon criteria, the two players who should be at the top of everyone’s watch list this season are Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke and Olivier Hanlan of Boston College.

Rasheed Sulaimon and Olivier Hanlan, Duke and Boston College

Rasheed Sulaimon (with ball) and Olivier Hanlan (far right) fought for the ball here but who will take the freshman of the year award? (AP Photo)

Let’s start with Sulaimon. A freshman from Houston, he was the all-everything wing player that Duke has always been able to convince to come to Durham. A participant in the Jordan Brand Classic and McDonald’s All-American Game, Sulaimon came in with sky-high expectations and despite a few down games has lived up to them. He’s averaged 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from the three-point line, and providing outstanding on-ball defense that has helped Duke keep some of the league’s best wing players from going off. He has been the perfect complement to Seth Curry, especially given the senior’s injury issues, and he has been able to give Duke a reliable third scorer in the absence of Ryan Kelly. If there was a most valuable freshman award, Sulaimon would take that award home.

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Miami vs. Florida State Could Be a Worthy ACC Undercard Tonight

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 13th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is a columnist for the ACC microsite. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham

When rivalry week rolls around each February the attention shifts toward the major games: Duke vs. North Carolina, Michigan vs. Michigan State, Kentucky vs. Florida, Syracuse vs. UConn, and other games of that ilk. However, some of the other games on ESPN’s slate are worthy of attention and one such game is Wednesday’s match-up between #3 Miami and Florida State. Long the football-playing athletic younger brother of Florida State’s disciplined teams, Miami has flipped the script this season with its play and crushed the Seminoles in Coral Gables, 71-47, earlier this season. But it is rivalry week and at this time of year records mean less than they otherwise would, so Miami could be in for a fight in Tallahassee tonight.

Michael Snaer, Florida State

Michael Snaer scored just four points when Miami crushed Florida State, 71-47, back on Jan. 27. (C.W. Griffin, MCT)

Florida State may lack the same toughness and leadership that sparked them to last year’s ACC Tournament championship but they return enough players with pride that they aren’t keen on allowing a repeat of this season’s first game or last season’s game in Tallahassee — a 16-point Miami win — come to pass. “Why not?” FSU guard Ian Miller told the Orlando Sentinel when asked if the Seminoles could win. “Why not go out and do something special?” That sentiment, if felt throughout the team, could be enough to push the Seminoles over the top tonight. But if they are going to score the upset they will need players like Miller and star guard Michael Snaer to come through with a pair of seas0n-best performances.

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Boston College is the Best Worst Team in the ACC

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 11th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham

Conte Forum is a hockey arena masquerading as a basketball court. The banners in the rafters tell the stories of Boston College’s rink-related exploits while Doug Flutie’s Heisman Trophy sits in one endzone. But for forty minutes the arena doubles as a proving ground for the best teams in the ACC as Steve Donahue’s team shed the stigma of its 2-7 conference record and pushed the conference’s upper echelon teams to the brink. Just two years into Donahue’s tenure, the Eagles are starting to have the look of a real problem team, at least at home.

Olivier Hanlan and Boston College pushed Duke to the limit on Sunday in Conte Forum. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Olivier Hanlan and Boston College pushed Duke to the limit on Sunday in Conte Forum. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Boston College opened ACC play by pushing NC State to the brink of an upset before eventually falling to the Wolfpack, 78-73. Then, 11 days later, the Eagles welcomed a red-hot Miami team into Conte and were a missed Olivier Hanlan free throw away from taking the Hurricanes to overtime. Finally on Sunday the Eagles pushed the #4 Duke harder than they pushed the previous two, actually leading late in the second half before falling by one. Three top-tier teams, three losses, a total point differential of seven points. Not bad for a team led by underclassmen.

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With Lorenzo Brown Out, Tyler Lewis is Seizing Opportunity to Shine

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 8th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham

There is no denying that Lorenzo Brown is N.C. State’s most important player. The key to their fast break, Brown was the catalyst for everything good that has happened for the Wolfpack in 2013. Since he picked up an ankle injury against Virginia, N.C. State is 0-3 and are in a bit of a tailspin as they look to discover an identity without their point guard. While the results haven’t been good, the play of freshman point guard Tyler Lewis has been encouraging and should give Wolfpack fans a reason to believe that if Brown should pick up another injury or end up in foul trouble, the team will still be in good hands.

Tyler Lewis (right) has proven a capable caretaker in the absence of Lorenzo Brown. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Tyler Lewis (right) has proven a capable caretaker in the absence of Lorenzo Brown. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

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