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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Hanlan Sets Scoring Records In First Round Win

Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013

Updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013 21:03


Graham Beck / Heights Editor


Olivier Hanlan was a forest fire just waiting to be lit.

Down 14-0 after five minutes of play, the Boston College men’s basketball team found saving grace in a timeout. Georgia Tech had turned up the defensive intensity in this opening game of the ACC Tournament, and head coach Steve Donahue’s Eagles were playing timid offense.

As his players made their way to the coach, Donahue looked at Hanlan.

“We’re down 14 nothing,” Donahue said. “We can’t be tentative.”

The message was directed at the whole team, but for BC to win, Donahue needed the ACC rookie of the year to listen. Hanlan started the game with two misses from deep, and then passed up an open 3-point attempt before the timeout.

“We’ve got to keep shooting when we’re open,” Donahue said, before sending his players back out onto the floor.

“It kind of all snowballed from there,” said freshman guard Joe Rahon.

Hanlan then erupted for 41 points, the most ever scored by an ACC freshman, and led the Eagles to a triumphant 84-64 comeback win.

Hanlan connected on his first shot out of the timeout. Dribbling the ball up the floor after a Georgia Tech miss, he crossed over his defender as Ryan Anderson set a transition screen. Hanlan passed Anderson’s shoulder, stepped back quickly off his right foot, and drilled a jumper for his first points. The fire grew, and so did his swagger.

Three minutes later he used a spin move to create separation and sank another shot that bounced around the rim. He would miss his next two shots, and then he wouldn’t miss again for the rest of the game, making all eight of his next 3-point attempts.

Once he heated up, every BC player started looking for him.

“You try not to get caught up in it and you try to keep playing and doing your best,” Rahon said, “but there is no doubt whenever you’re penetrating you’re looking at wherever his defender is at. There was no doubt I was trying to get him the ball and he was doing a great job of moving without the ball. It was a great performance.”

As Hanlan let the ball fly, Rahon controlled the offense. He would direct traffic and get Hanlan the looks he needed, which included working inside-out through Anderson.

“If we don’t have a kid like him sharing it, I don’t think [Hanlan and Rahon] get shots and no one gets shots,” Donahue said of Anderson.

When BC runs the pick-and-roll, Donahue likes to consider Anderson the point-guard of the play.

“They hit me and I try to make the right decision with the basketball, whether it’s to attack or to find the shooter,” Anderson said. “Any time you have a guy going like Olivier was today you really try to get the ball in his hands.”

Anderson even sacrificed his own scoring because he knew Hanlan was feeling it. With a secure 80-59 lead and barely two minutes on the clock, Anderson fought for position inside and received the ball with an easy chance to score. Instead, he kicked it out to Hanlan who was wide-open on the arc. Hanlan made the shot, his final one, and with it tied for the third-best scoring performance in tournament history.

“I had the shot, but I just dished it out to him because you know when a guy is feeling it like that it’s probably going to go in.”

It wasn’t just Hanlan and the BC offense that sparked the victory. Donahue had his team run a full-court trapping press and then a half-court zone trap to take Georgia Tech out of rhythm. The Yellow Jackets didn’t have a problem scoring off of it at first, but the Eagles’ confidence grew as the pressure wore down their opponent.

“It built up and then we started getting used to what they were doing to try to beat it so we could counter that and take advantage,” Rahon said. “[The press] was a great weapon for us today.”

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