The Boston College basketball team has not looked good this year.
Their defense has been porous at times and non-existent at others. They don’t seem capable of consistently grabbing defensive rebounds. And, for the most part, they’ve floundered at the end of games. But, even amid the Eagles’ snail-slow start, their star sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan has been putting on shows.
Hanlan, who was named the ACC Freshman of the year last season, is the total package. The 6-4 Quebecker is a deft guard with a sweet jumper, an innate ability to get to the hoop and get fouled, and quick hands defensively. His game screams NBA. Last night in the Eagles’ game against Florida Atlantic, Hanlan was on a rampage, dropping 38 points on 19 shots (crazy efficiency). Thanks largely to Hanlan’s heroics, the Eagles eeked out an 82-79 win. It was their first victory of the season and, while their defensive issues remained unresolved (at one point in the game my brother Dan commented quite accurately that the Eagles have the transition defense of a second grade team), it was still a huge win for a team that lost their first three games.
BC’s three defeats were all close. But Hanlan was hardly to blame for any of them. Olivier overcame foul trouble and a sluggish start in their season opener at Providence to score 23 points, nearly willing BC to victory late in the game before fouling out. He followed up the opener with solid scoring outputs in BC’s next two games, scoring 19 points and then 18 points in losses to UMass (watch out for Chaz Williams and the Minutemen–they’re good) and Toledo.
Through four games Hanlan’s numbers are gaudy. He’s averaging 24.5 points per game, shooting 50% from the field, and knocking in 42% of the treys he attempts. Perhaps most impressively, Hanlan has shot 11 free throws per game. At the stripe, he’s shooting 82%.
The scary thing is, Hanlan can play substantially better than he has. In each game, including the 38 point paroxysm against FAU, there have been times when it has felt like Hanlan has been less aggressive than he should be, passing up open shots or going long stretches without taking the ball to the hoop.
While BC attempts to find a cure to what ails their defense, Hanlan should continue to bang out extraordinary performances. But don’t be surprised to see Olivier, who improved massively over the course of last winter, playing even better in January than he is now.