Despite a tough season, Boston College men's basketball has gained praise over the past month for playing very close games against very good teams. These efforts have paid off in their last couple of contests, as the Eagles have now won two consecutive games, including an upset of an NC State team that will likely be in the field of 68 come tournament time. BC’s competitive play over the past 30 days can largely be attributed to the dominance of Olivier Hanlan, who is now drawing national attention.
What Olivier Hanlan has done this season, and over the last month in particular, has been special. His efforts culminated in winning the ACC Player of the Week this past week. His numbers for the week were downright silly: 31.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and just under 4 assists per game. Most impressive about this campaign, he put up these numbers with efficiency, shooting 55 percent from the floor, 50 percent from long range, and a cool 96 percent from the line. Those numbers are completely absurd.
Hanlan is the only player in the ACC this season who has more than one 30 point game, and he has four of them. Those 30 point games all came in a February that Olivier absolutely dominated. For the entire month, he averaged 25.5 points per game, impressively shooting 54 percent from the floor. Over that time, it is also important to note just how good he was at the free throw line, despite struggling earlier in the year. In the month of February, Hanlan only missed 5 free throws...over the entire month. Incredible. His excellence was epitomized in the Eagles' game against Pitt, when he went 14 for 14 from the line.
To fully understand how good Olivier has been, it is important to look at who the Eagles played over in February: No. 10 Notre Dame (twice), No. 12 UNC, Syracuse, Miami, Pittsburgh, Florida State, and NC State. All of these teams are considered tournament or bubble teams, with the exception of the Orange, who have put them self in timeout for the postseason. Hanlan isn’t feasting on bottom feeding mid-major teams; he is torching the best competition in the country.
His play becomes even more impressive when you look at the guys that have been checking him in these contests. Notre Dame Point Guard Jerian Grant, who many consider to be the best all-around guard in the country? Schooled twice. Marcus Paige of UNC, the consensus top preseason point guard in the nation? Hanlan dropped 30 on him. On the road against Pitt’s stud guard James Robinson, their unbelievable home crowd, and Coach Jamie Dixon’s pestering defense? A casual 39 points.
Special. That is the only way to describe what Hanlan has done. Other coaches in the league have taken note. UNC’s Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams commented, “He’s a heck of a player. I love his toughness and competitiveness. He’s a load.” Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim also raved about Hanlan’s ability to penetrate at will after his team faced off with the Canadian guard.
The most flattering remarks came from NC State's Mark Gottfried. The head coach of the tournament-bound Wolfpack said of Hanlan, “He’s definitely worthy of consideration [for ACC Player of the Year]. There’s no question to me. He’s as good as any guard in the country. Period. End of story.”
As the end of the regular season closes in and award season inches closer, hopefully Gottfried’s remarks will linger in the minds of the conference committee. Hanlan, who won ACC Rookie of the Year his freshman season, and was named All-ACC third team his junior year, is now looking for more hardware. If leading the league in scoring, and being the only player in the ACC to be top 12 in the conference in points, assists and steals isn’t enough for player of the year consideration, then what is? Hanlan has had a special season, and hopefully he will be well rewarded and earn ACC first team honors.
The Eagles have one regular season contest left on March 7th against Wake Forest, and then it will be off to Greensboro, North Carolina for the ACC tournament. Don’t miss out on these last few opportunities to see one of the most special individuals Chestnut Hill has seen in a long while.
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