Well, SuperFans, we have officially reached the halfway point of yet another season on The Heights. The Men’s Basketball team has finished their non-conference schedule and starts ACC play with an 8-8 record. Considering that the Eagles had only 8 wins in all of last season, this year can already be looked at as an improvement (assuming they don’t lose all of their remaining games). With half a season of play completed, the folks at The Gavel have decided to pass out some mid-season awards.
Most Valuable Player: Olivier Hanlan
I know this might be the most obvious decision ever made, but that doesn’t mean that Hanlan is any less deserving. The former ACC Freshman of the year is, once again, the Eagles undisputed star. While he isn’t scoring at the clip as he did last season (18.5 ppg), he has become a far better point-guard while putting up a team high 16.5 points a game.
Hanlan also is the Eagles' leading distributor, dishing out nearly 5 assists per game. Hanlan has also become one of the ACC’s best perimeter defenders; he is currently one of two players in the ACC to be top 10 in scoring, assists, and steals. Hanlan’s overall play is much better this year and the Eagles are going to need him to keep moving forward through their tough Schedule.
Best New Addition: Aaron Brown
When Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon, arguably two of the best players from last year's team, transferred from the program at the end of the 2013-14 season, many thought the Eagles were in big trouble. Luckily they landed two transfers to make up for their loss: Dimitri Batten and Aaron Brown.
Brown has been a HUGE addition for the Eagles this season and is second on the team in minutes and points. The addition of another potent scorer playing alongside Hanlan has really helped the Eagles’ offense—made up of dribble handoffs and off the bounce penetration—rise to the occasion in Olivier’s absence. At this point, Aaron brown is clearly the Eagles’ best new addition to the team.
Most Improved Player: Patrick Heckmann
Patrick Heckmann has been, without question, my favorite player to watch play for the Eagles this season. He has almost doubled his playing time, from just 16 minutes per game to 28. He has upped his scoring average from 6 to over 8 points per game, and gives the Eagles a good third option after Hanlan and Brown.
Heckmann’s biggest improvement, though, is in his effort. No player on the entire BC roster leaves it all on the court like Heckmann does. Pat is also willing to do whatever it takes to get a win. He is 3rd in scoring and 2nd in rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, and free throw percentage. Patrick is the most well rounded player on the Eagles' roster right now and will need to continue his phenomenal multidimensional play for the Eagles to stay competitive in conference.
For those of you who haven’t seen him play lately, we recommend you come to Conte next Wednesday for the Louisville game and see one of the most easily entertaining players in college basketball.
Team X-Factor: Dimitri Batten
When Lonnie Jackson suffered a season-ending injury, the Eagles were desperate for someone to step up and provide some scoring from beyond the arc. That’s where transfer Dimitri Batten comes into play. Batten made his way into the Eagles' starting lineup, due to the injuries to Eddie Odio and Jackson, and has earned himself a starting spot for the rest of the season.
Shooting over 37% from deep (this part confuses me) is a big part of his success and increased playing time this season. A big difference maker in some of the Eagles’ close losses to West Virginia, Dayton, Pitt, and Miami has been poor 3 point shooting. A couple of missed threes by Hanlan and Brown brought them down in games that would otherwise be ones to remember.
Batten’s performance has to be catching the eyes of the coaches; as long as he stays confident and ready to look for his sharp shooting, he is going to be a big difference maker for the Eagles against some tough upcoming opponents.
The Eagles schedule in the second half will only get harder as they continue to play some very strong ACC teams in arguably one of the best basketball conferences ever assembled. Going forward, if the Eagles can get a bit stronger on the interior and knock down a couple more threes we have some upsets to look forward to.
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