ACC Basketball

BIG QUESTIONS FOR 2013-14: Boston College

BC's hanlan

Do the Eagles have the best backfield in the ACC?

No, but they’re not far off.

When talking about a team that finished 16-17, including 7-11 in the conference, you don’t get to throw around the word “best” too much. However, over the last two seasons, the Eagles have been going through some major growing pains as head coach Steve Donahue has slowly brought in his own players that fit his system.

The key word in “growing pains” is the word “growing” and that’s exactly what is happening in Boston. While last year’s squad had their struggles, it was still a solid improvement from the 2011-12 squad that went 9-22 overall, winning just four games in the ACC. With just about everyone returning in 2013-14, it’s just logical to think the Eagles will continue their climb upwards.

Of course the only reason we can even discuss having B.C. in the top half of the conference is because of a pair of sophomores in their backfield…point guard Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan.

Rahon isn’t the quickest player on the court and occasionally struggles with his shot, but he played over 35 minutes per game because he knew how to make his teammates better. He’s a strong point guard, capable of muscling his way into the lane. Last year, he was 7th in assists and 8th in assist-to-turnover ratio in conference.

Meanwhile, coming out of high school, some thought Hanlan belong at a mid-major. There were worries about his shooting ability against stiff competition. Well, I think he answered the stiffness question, averaging 15.4 ppg, 5th in the ACC.

With little options last year, coach Donahue threw the freshmen into the fire and it paid off. These two along with Ryan Anderson were a big reason why the Eagles finished the year 6-4 in their final 10 games.

Heading into the season, I’d probably put Duke’s backfield of Cook/Sulaimon as the league’s top. One could also argue Carolina’s Paige/McDonald is better, but right now I wouldn’t agree with the straw man I just created. I just don’t see any reason to put Paige over Rahon (except he has better talent around him) and I certainly wouldn’t put McDonald over Hanlan.

The dark horses in the whole “best backfield” argument is Notre Dame’s duo of Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant. Last year, the seniors combined to score 24.5 PPG, 5.5 assists and 10 rebounds. Atkins is one of the better long-ball shooters among point guards and is underrated at penetration (If only I had a nickel for every time someone said that about me).

Anyhow, Grant is not known for his outside shot, but instead uses his quickness to slash into the paint and finish at the rim. The fact is, with Jack Cooley gone in the paint, a lot more of the scoring load will fall on the shoulders of Atkins and Grant.


1. Duke’s Cook/Sulaimon

2. Boston College’s Rahon/Hanlan

3. Notre Dame’s Atkins/Grant

4. North Carolina’s Paige/McDonald

5. Florida State’s Miller/Bookert


  1. Pingback: BIG QUESTIONS FOR 2013-14: Duke | ACC Basketball

  2. Pingback: BIG QUESTIONS 2013-14: Florida State | ACC Basketball

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