MEN'S BASKETBALL: Eagles Face Final Conference Battle In Greensboro
ACC Rookie Of The Year Olivier Hanlan Looks To Catalyze A Tournament Run
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 01:03
When the ACC Tournament tips off today, Olivier Hanlan will be ready.
Focus not to be broken, the ACC rookie of the year has been studying the film from Boston College men’s basketball’s final regular season game against Georgia Tech, a 74-72 BC win, and he’s targeted Mfon Udofia’s defense.
The eighth-seeded Eagles open play with a rematch against the ninth-seeded Yellow Jackets, and although Hanlan scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, he knows that he can do better against the senior guard in charge of defending him.
“I’ve been watching tape of him for the last few days and how he defended me,” Hanlan said of Udofia. “I’m confident I’m going to find a way to get by him and get open shots.”
Neither team had trouble scoring in the first matchup, both shooting over 50 percent from the field. BC is looking to improve defensively this time around.
“We didn’t really play well last game in terms of our defense,” Hanlan said. “They were just getting easy looks on offense and too many open shots.”
“We were disappointed with our defense and we feel we’ve got to play a lot better if we’re going to beat them again,” said head coach Steve Donahue.
Hanlan attributed the poor defense to inconsistent communication between teammates.
“I don’t know why we didn’t really talk that game,” Hanlan said. “We messed up on a few rotations and they just got open looks and easier looks than we want.”
Georgia Tech worked the ball inside with ease, but Donahue was proud of his team’s ability to finish the game despite the opponent’s scoring runs.
“I think they got the ball inside when they wanted to, and then when they rotated out they got good shots, they beat us in transition, but with that being said we figured out a way to win,” Donahue said. “We’ve outplayed teams for 38 minutes and lost a lot of games this year. I think that was probably a result of saying, ‘You know what, we can get this done still. We just need to do it at this time.’”
Both Hanlan and Donahue said that the Eagles need to consistently trap in the post to slow down the Yellow Jackets’ offense, but the overall execution can be better as well.
“There are little things that we can do better,” Donahue said. “There can be a little better pressure on the ball so the pass isn’t directly there. The big can work harder to bump them out another foot so now the shot’s harder. Those things are just as critical as saying, ‘Hey, we’re just going to send a double-team.’ I think that’s where we’re at. We’ve got to get better at those things.”
If the Eagles defeat Georgia Tech today, they face top-seeded Miami tomorrow in the quarterfinals.
“Our goal right now is to get into the NCAA Tournament by winning [the ACC],” Donahue said. “And my feeling is, I don’t know if anything else really matters to our program at this point.”
BC is a long-shot to win the tourney, but a deep run might qualify the team for an NIT bid.
“The NIT is a spectacular, hard tournament,” Donahue said. “To get invited to that, it would be hard not to take that.”
Last season, the Eagles came in to the tournament ranked at the bottom of the conference. They’ve moved up to eighth place this year, and the progress has shown statistically as well.
“Well it’s not just the wins, but it’s how you played,” Donahue said. “Statistically, we went from the bottom in almost every category to the middle of the pack. That’s essentially what we did. And more importantly the things that we really value like taking care of the ball—I think we were second in the league for least amount of turnovers. We got to the foul line the third amount of times in our league. We are way better at assist-to-turnovers. Our defensive numbers are not as good as I would’ve hoped, but rebounding we held our own. So everything has gotten better. I’m going to say to these guys, the next step is how do you get to the elite. Those four teams that get the byes, that’s where you want to be, and that’s going to be our hardest step. This step, yeah, it was a lot, but the farther you go up the more difficult it is and it’s going to take everybody doing that. Us doing a great job recruiting and us taking another step to be in that group because that’s where you want to be.”