Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. […] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC Tournament: Previewing the Quarterfinals

Posted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:

Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

What Does Hanlan Have in Store For Today? (Photo via Boston Globe)

Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a  legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.

Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM

In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.

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Olivier Hanlan Buries Georgia Tech and Scoring Record

Posted 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.

Olivier Hanlan Couldn't Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Olivier Hanlan Couldn’t Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

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.

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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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ACC M5: 03.07.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Winston-Salem Journal: The freshman of the year race will say a lot about the voters involved. There are four plausible winners: Olivier Hanlan, Rasheed SulaimonDevin Thomas and TJ Warren. Each one says something about the voter: Hanlan is the most important to his team’s scoring (high usage); Sulaimon is a key piece for a top team on both ends of the floor; Warren is the efficiency guru’s dream; but Thomas has intangibles. I don’t know whether he’s a leader, but he’s often the only spark Wake Forest has on a given night. Thomas crashes the boards and plays with effort regardless of the score. In the end, Hanlan deserves the award, though it’s true he has more opportunities to shine than Sulaimon or Warren. If Sulaimon has a monster game against North Carolina, he could take the award just by overcoming his recency bias.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Speaking of awards, Daniel Miller won’t win Most Improved Player, but he should be in contention. Last season Miller was a bumbling liability everywhere but in rebounding. This year, he’s much more efficient offensively. He’s still not looking for his own shot, but he’s cut down on turnovers and increased his field goal percentage. If he improves along the Richard Howell trajectory (still a big if), Miller could be a very important piece next season.
  3. South Florida Sun Sentinel: Miami started ACC play in dominant fashion. It’s ending the year looking mediocre. A lot of people are quick to point the finger at Reggie Johnson, who hasn’t been on top of his game. But Miami could just be regressing. The Hurricanes won plenty of close games (especially through the middle of conference play) and lost none. Now, some of those games are going the other way. There are two ways of looking at this phenomenon: (1) close games are coin flips; or (2) Miami doesn’t have the same swagger it had earlier in conference play. The first isn’t cause for concern; the second is.
  4. Washington Post: North Carolina’s smaller lineup gave Maryland fits. But the Terrapins struggle to find their flow offensively. The real test for the Tar Heel’s wing-heavy lineup is this Saturday against Duke. The Blue Devils are an elite offense with an elite big man (and a stretch four to help with double-teams). But win or lose, the Tar Heels will be in the Big Dance. Maryland, however, isn’t in nearly as good shape. The Terrapins need to do some work in the conference tournament.
  5. ESPN: Well, we may be getting a taste of conference realignment  a little early, as Notre Dame may join the ACC as soon as this summer, according to Brett McMurphy. That’s good news for the ACC, as it will lock Notre Dame into an agreement instead of just waiting for a better offer to come hit you in the face.
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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on February 25th, 2013

Though there were some dandy match-ups over the weekend, there was something in the water that led to some strange outcomes. The best team in the conference lost to one of the worst ones and the worst team in the conference finally got a win after nine straight conference losses. So sure, things got a little weird, but what did we learn?

Wake Celebrated Its Biggest Win in Years Saturday

Wake Celebrated Its Biggest Win in Years Saturday

  1. No, Seriously, It’s Hard to Win On the Road in the ACC. Miami learned this the hard way on Saturday after Wake Forest handed the Hurricanes their very first conference loss. It was the first time Miami had lost a game since Christmas. Meanwhile, although Wake Forest certainly enjoyed celebrating the big upset, no one knows the sorrows of the road and the comforts of home better than the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is 5-2 at home (the two losses were by a combined total of six points)  and 0-7 on the road within the conference. Of course, maybe a big part of that is just Wake Forest: Over the course of the season the team has won exactly one true road game, against UNC-Greensboro, thirty minutes down the road (assuming no traffic) at the traditional venue of the ACC Tournament.
  2. Maryland Is Making Progress On Its Turnover Problem. In a win over Clemson, Maryland had only eight turnovers while the Tigers had 11. That counts for something! Seriously, things were getting pretty ridiculous: On the season Maryland has had 408 turnovers while their opponents have posted only 279.  Those extra possessions make winning tricky, and if Maryland wants to keep their bubble from bursting, they need to hold onto the ball if they want any chance of winning critical games against North Carolina and Virginia down the stretch.
  3. North Carolina State Is Not Making Progress on Its Defensive Problem. NC State made the game interesting for North Carolina, but on the whole, the Wolfpack’s inability to stop an improving but still middling Tar Heels offense made a victory all but impossible. UNC did a fine job at slowing the Wolfpack’s potent offense and managed to do enough offensively to stymie the conference’s biggest disappointment. NC State is still an incredibly talented team, but it also seems like a squad that hasn’t improved as the season has progressed. Something needs to change, but the tail end of February seems like it might be far too late. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. RDU Blog: The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is in the process of “modernizing” Terminal 1. What is the first new restaurant listed? ACC American Cafe. The ACC is partnering with HMS Host to bring you “a range of farm-to-market dishes along with entrees inspired by the home cities of ACC teams.” So take that Big Ten! You may have a network, but the ACC has an overpriced restaurant in an airport! Really though, it’s hard to frame this story. What exactly is the ACC going for? Alternate revenue streams, visibility, a spark of creativity? There are some questions without an answer.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Despite his college success, Sean May never really fit into the NBA, but now he and fellow Tar Heel teammate Jawad Williams are getting the cure for their professional basketball itch in France. The two are making good money (the best in their league) and get to be centerpieces — like in college — rather than afterthoughts in the NBA. They seem to be enjoying each other’s company and the team regardless of replacing chartered flights with cramped bus rides. I’m really not doing the article enough credit.
  3. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Syracuse may not be in the ACC just yet, but Tyler Cavanaugh did some serious trolling on the Orange’s indirect behalf after his trip to Boston College. Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed. Describing the student section, he said, “I’d say maybe 20 [students]. It was kinda dead. There was really no energy in the arena. As far as the atmosphere, this was the worst place we’d seen.” Call it the bitterness of a close game lost or some childhood biases resurfacing, but Cavanaugh gets feisty for his post card.
  4. BC Interruption: Speaking of Boston College, the Eagles actually are starting to look like they’re in decent shape for the future, after Steve Donahue found a diamond in the rough in Olivier Hanlan (to go with fellow DITR Dennis Clifford). Hanlan is one of the most exciting players to watch in the conference. There still aren’t enough pieces surrounding him, but he seems to improve with each game instead of running into the wall. If the training staff in Chestnut Hill can find a way to manage Clifford’s injury, Boston College could find itself middle of the pack.
  5. Richmond Daily Progress: I’m not sure why Jerry Ratliffe thinks CJ Leslie will be in the conversation for first-team All-ACC so far, much less conference Player of the Year. Leslie has been his normal, mercurial self all season. He’s balanced his excellence with a decent dose of mediocrity (or disappearance) like many worried he would. Erick Green, Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin are virtual locks for the first team with Kenny Kadji and Michael Snaer (on clutchness alone) nipping at their heels. There’s still plenty of basketball to be played though, so don’t count anyone out just yet.
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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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ACC M5: 02.13.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 13th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tech Hoops: I stumbled across an ACC fan site I somehow hadn’t seen before — good stuff here on Virginia Tech‘s beatdown at the hands of Virginia. Jarell Eddie in particular was just horrific. He only played 14 minutes, but managed to have a plus/minus of -19. Eddie’s problem unfortunately appears to be that he’s totally checked out. He’s turning the ball over and has stopped hitting shots, which is really bad for a team that already struggles offensively without its second option mailing it in. Interestingly, Virginia Tech went 0-of-6 from the charity stripe if you discard Erick Green’s efforts. More damningly, the Hokies only have two ACC games with a positive assist to turnover margin, while their opponents only have one game with a negative assist to turnover margin. That’s an issue.
  2. Hampton Roads Daily Press: In more positive news, Miami‘s 10-0 start in ACC play looks very good for the postseason. Sixteen ACC teams previously started 10-0 in league play — half of those won the ACC Tournament, half went to the Final Four (Miami’s only made it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament once ever), and two won it all. That’s not bad company. Only one team (2007-08 Duke) didn’t at least share the regular season crown for the league. The previous runners of the opening 10-game gauntlet are six North Carolina teams, six Duke teams, three NC State teams, and yes, one Virginia team.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: The ACC’s freshmen are an interesting bunch. There’s a lot of really intriguing talent out there but no real superstars. Olivier Hanlan is the closest thing to a dominant freshman this year, and he shines especially bright because of the lack of athleticism and talent surrounding him (which isn’t a knock on his athleticism — Duke didn’t have anyone who could stay in front of him). My only qualm with this list is Devin Thomas‘ ranking. He’s been a bright spot for Wake Forest this season largely because of his effort. He’s not the most polished player around, but he often is the most impactful player on the floor for the Demon Deacons.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: Florida State is still theoretically in contention for an at-large bid to the Big Dance. The key will be to not blow any of its remaining winnable games and stealing a couple of marquee games down the stretch (a win over Duke or Miami would help dramatically). As far as Michael Rogner’s power rankings, it’s interesting how stable the top of the conference is when compared to the ever-morphing top of the national polls. Miami, Duke, Virginia, NC State and North Carolina all sit in the same spots. It’s also time to start asking if the Hurricanes can run the table this year. Their final game at Duke will be the ultimate test, but so far they haven’t shown many vulnerabilities.
  5. US Basketball Writers Association: For the second straight week, the USBWA named an ACC player its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week. This time it’s Mason Plumlee‘s turn, after he averaged 24.5 points, 9.5 boards and 2.0 blocks per game in wins over Boston College and NC State. After a quiet stretch following his early NPOY candidacy, Plumlee is back on track in the ACC Player of the Year race. His free throw shooting has improved and overall he’s just being more aggressive without Ryan Kelly on the floor.
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Boston College’s Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan Have Eagles Headed in Right Direction

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 12th, 2013

Boston College

Ryan Anderson (left) and Boston College are 1-2 in the ACC but have lost their games by a combined eight points. (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for RTC. You can find him on twitter @jp_kelley or, for Duke-related ramblings, @DevilsinDurham

Boston College was one of the original schools to read the tea leaves and bolt from the Big East to the ACC. While their tea leaves may have read “go before UConn does” instead of “save yourself!”, the Eagles have been a fixture of the ACC landscape for some years now despite only having a few competitive seasons.

This season will not be a deviation from the trend, but the baby Eagles are playing a fun brand of basketball and have two bonafide ACC players leading the way in sophomore forward Ryan Anderson and freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Through three conference games this season, BC has looked like a team that, when everything is going well, can threaten any team on any given night. With a quality win over Virginia Tech and close losses to N.C. State and Wake Forest, Steve Donahue’s boys are growing in confidence every game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rahon and Hanlan: A Look at Boston College’s Freshmen Iron Men

Posted by KCarpenter on January 3rd, 2013

It’s no surprise that Erick Green is in the top five in the the conference in terms of minutes per game. As the most important player on Virginia Tech’s squad, he leads the conference in just about every scoring related “volume” category that exists. He leads the league in points per game, usage rate, possessions used, field goals attempted, field goals made, free throws attempted, and free throws made. Of course he plays just about more minutes than anyone else too. Likewise it’s no surprise to see Duke’s Mason Plumlee in the top five in minutes per game; he’s the best player on the best team in the country and probably the front-runner for National Player of the Year. Shane Larkin, the ACC’s leader in average minutes, is Miami’s only consistent play-maker. It’s not surprising that any of these guys are getting serious minutes.

Joe Rahon

Joe Rahon

It’s the other two guys in the top five who are surprising: Boston College‘s Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Both of these players are freshmen who are off to a sensational start in their collegiate careers. Sure, the Eagles didn’t exactly have any truly established backcourt starters going into this season, but in these two youngsters, BC has seen the future. Next to Ryan Anderson, the two freshmen are the team’s leading scorers, both boasting double-figure scoring averages that easily justify their time on the court.  Hanlan is a gifted scorer with a knack for getting to the line and an above-average rebounder for his position (a real asset for an Eagles team that will likely often go small down the stretch). while Rahon is a fairly traditional point guard who can dish, handle the ball, and score effectively from beyond the arc or while slicing to the rim. At 4.2 APG, Rahon ranks just below Marcus Paige and above Mfon Udofia and Shane Larkin in terms of distribution. Of course, this number is somewhat leading considering that Rahon plays more minutes than Udofia or Paige, but even in terms of the tempo-free assist percentage metric, Rahon is a top-10 dime-man in the conference. That’s not a bad resume for a pair of freshmen.

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ACC Noon 5: 01.01.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 1st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Streaking the Lawn:Awesome future non-conference news out of Charlottesville. One thing that’s been dying lately are home-and-home series with non-conference foes, but Virginia will (hopefully) iron out the details on a future head-to-head with local rival VCU. That should make for a really interesting series, and looks to benefit both parties. The Rams and Cavaliers get another marquee non-conference game to prove its strength come Selection Sunday. Fans get a potential budding rivalry played at a high level. Although there is a chance Tony Bennett’s pack-line, slow-down system will spontaneously combust when it meets Shaka Smart’s HAVOC scheme.
  2. Baltimore Sun: Jake Layman didn’t have a seamless transition when he got to College Park. He struggled academically and athletically in his first semester, but the freshman is looking for a new start for the new year. Layman has the chance to be a great four-year player for Mark Turgeon, but he just has to focus on “getting better every day.” Don’t expect Layman to be the Terrapins’ most important piece this season, but look for him to be more comfortable on and off the floor.
  3. Keeping It Heel: PJ Hairston seems to be growing into a more important role in Chapel Hill this season. He took full advantage of Reggie Bullock’s injury in the Tar Heels’ win over UNLV, playing 32 minutes, scoring 15 points on 10 shots, and grabbing four steals. If Hairston continues to improve — specifically on his shot selection and defensive intensity — don’t be surprised if Roy Williams pushes him to play starter minutes (or replaces Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup).
  4. SBNation Boston: Things are looking better in Chestnut Hill. No, the Eagles aren’t looking like contenders but Boston College has looked much better over its recent five-game winning streak. Specifically, the defense is greatly improved and freshmen Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan are both averaging double figures. Steve Donahue’s schedule hasn’t been littered with world-beaters, but there’s a lot to be said for learning how to win. This team should be more competitive — even if they don’t win more games — than last year’s squad.
  5. Chapelboro: Jeremy Gerlach wrote a travel guide for the ACC (albeit leaving Chapel Hill, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Winston-Salem and College Park off the list). With conference play tipping off this Saturday, you may want to do some research before picking your road trips. This article is an OK place to start, but I’d probably look a little more closely.
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