Press Conference: Boston College after UNC loss in ACC Tournament

storylogo2Boston College coach Jim Christian and point guard Olivier Hanlan speak with reporters after the Eagles’ 81-63 loss to UNC in the 2015 ACC Tournament.

 

COACH CHRISTIAN:  Obviously, early foul trouble hurt our team tonight.  We had to play some lineups in the first half that we hadn’t played all season.  Both our four men were in foul trouble.  All three of them, actually, so that hurt us a little bit.  I was proud of our guys the way we fought to come all the way back to eight.  Then we just made some defensive breakdowns.
Give credit to them.  I thought they played very, very well.  They’re very patient offensively.  I thought they got the ball where they wanted to play and made a tremendous amount of key plays in the late clock situations.  I thought they were really efficient, and that was probably a big difference in the game.  That, and obviously we ran a little bit out of gas towards the end.

Q.  Olivier, was it just one of those nights where the shot wasn’t falling or was it something that Tokoto or was it them as a team were doing to you defensively today?
OLIVIER HANLAN:  Me and coach were talking about it.  We got some great looks offensively.  I was getting some great looks.  But we had a few in and outs, and obviously them having so many guys to guard me and being fresh all the time obviously played a key factor in it.

Q.  What specifically did they do defensively to take you out of your rhythm?
OLIVIER HANLAN:  Obviously coming off the ball screen they kind of stayed with me longer.  Everybody was kind of in the key when I attacked.  So I know first half I was getting the guys some pretty good looks in terms of open threes, and guys cutting back doing everything like that.  But they did a good job as a team guarding me.

Q.  Olivier, after expending the energy that you guys had to expend in the win over Georgia Tech, what concerns did you have about maintaining pace, and then when you got into foul trouble, having the manpower to withstand any runs that they were going to make at you?
OLIVIER HANLAN:  Obviously, coming into the game and them not playing yet, so I think they had like a week off, so they were pretty fresh.  Whenever you come to the ACC Tournament, everybody’s tired and it’s the end of the season, so that’s not really an excuse to make.  Even if you play two games, one game or zero games everybody’s going to be tired so you have to just push through it.  The team that usually fights through it wins it all.

Q.  I know it’s the end of the season for a lot of the guys on this team that you’ve played with, AB and Dimitri and Patrick as well, but was this the end for you here at BC?  Are you thinking about coming back?
OLIVIER HANLAN:  I don’t really want to talk about that right now.  Obviously there is a lot of time to make that decision, so I’ll just take it day by day.

Q.  They had a pretty decided size advantage inside.  What did you hope to try to do to negate that?  And I guess the foul trouble is what prevented that from happening?
COACH CHRISTIAN:  Yeah, the fouls weren’t really on post‑ups.  It was more reaching for outs or over the back or second‑effort plays around the rim, and that’s where Pat got in foul trouble, two quick ones and Eddie too.  Obviously the best thing we could have done is work early, and I thought we did.  In the beginning of the game we worked early and prevented post catches and forced them off the lane a little bit when they were missing shots early in the game.  As the game wore on, they were getting the ball deeper and deeper.
It’s a hard team to double because they’re so long and athletic.  If you get forced into rotations with our team, there is a huge drop off, and we rotate down.  It’s not Tokoto to get the ball above the rim.  Our guys aren’t that way.  So you’ve got to pick your poison and hope that those guys don’t get deep catches, and those off the lane shots that they were missing earlier were easier to rebound for us.  I thought that was helping us.  Then they started driving the ball.
When Paige got into the lane and they were running a couple guard to guard screens and got the ball right on top of the rim and kind of forced us to rotate, and that’s when we got hurt.

Q.  They come out early and get it up to 15, but you guys fight back to get it to within 8.  Did you think your team had enough in the tank left to kind of get it back to even?
COACH CHRISTIAN:  Yeah, I always think we have enough in the tank.  I think we came down and that was the play where I think we came out of the timeout.  Ran a backdoor play for Patrick.  I’ve never seen this before, and it was unbelievable.  Hicks made one of the best plays I’ve seen on defense.  He got beat back door, right?  And then came back and blocked the shot.  I haven’t seen it.  I was in shock.  It was a good ball.  It wasn’t goaltending.
Think about how athletic you have to be to get beat back door at the three‑point line and get to the rim and block the shot.  That was the game.  I mean, it was an unbelievable play.  It was an unbelievable individual athletic play.  We don’t see that in the Mac when I was in the Mac.

Q.  Yesterday we talked a little bit about the draft, but the proposal from the NABC about instituting a combine for undergraduates by invitation only and moving the withdrawal date for the NBA draft to late May, would you be in favor of seeing that change for you?
COACH CHRISTIAN:  I’d like to see it all planned out in front of me.  I did see a little bit about it, but I think anything that can help young people make the right decisions is what it’s all about and eliminate the unknown.  I think there is a lot of unknown.  I think the more factual information these guys get to eliminate the unknown is great.
The late date for us in terms of filling the scholarships if guys leave that’s a little bit difficult.  But it’s all about the people and whether it’s Olivier or anybody else, the only thing you want to see is factual information so they can make sound decisions based on as best you can facts.  But I think those situations‑‑ I think everything should be on the table until everybody figures out what’s best for the young people.

Q.  Olivier, is Tokoto as good a defender as you’ve played against this season?
OLIVIER HANLAN:  Yeah, he’s definitely in the top defenders that guard me.  But obviously having a team like UNC with so many good athletes and so many good players and being able to put two, three, four guys on me during the course of a game and keeping fresh bodies on me is definitely harder.  But he’s a great defender.

Q.  I know it’s kind of hard to focus and project what will become of this team next year, but the composition of this roster looks like it will be much different than what you had.  You had the luxury, as you said of having some senior leadership.  It seemed to be that was the thing that you were kind of hanging your hat on in this postseason, the experience that these guys have.
COACH CHRISTIAN:  I don’t think we were hanging our hat on leadership.  I think we’re hanging our hat on effort.  So I think those things are well in advance for us.  The way we play, the way we approach it, the confidence with which we play.  As I told the guys before the game, these guys in my mind had never formed a team where they believed in one another and had enough belief to be in games like this.  So that’s all there, and that wasn’t done because they were older.  It was done because they came together.
So the thing that came out of this group of guys is the culture is changing, and it’s got to be continued with the next group.  But there are a lot of guys in that locker room that are going to be part of that.  The composition, the pieces, that is secondary if the attitude and mentality isn’t primary, and the attitude now is primary.  They understand it now.
There was a real true belief in our locker room today that we were going to win this game, and that was a huge step for us.  I can look at their faces.  I can look at the way they approached it, and there is a sincere disappointment that they didn’t.  That’s culture change, and that’s where we’re about right now.

Q.  You’ve been at this for 25 years.
COACH CHRISTIAN:  Thanks for reminding me how old I am.

Q.  I mean counting your time as an assistant coach.  Is this just a weird experience for you as a coach with multiple transfers, building a roster quickly, saying goodbye to a whole bunch of seniors?  This whole two‑year stretch looks about as weird as it gets in major college basketball?
COACH CHRISTIAN:  Yeah, usually you don’t take over jobs that have seven seniors.  Because we had no room and it was such a late date to add a freshman, it’s not easy to find freshman to play in the ACC period, and you don’t want to make a mistake and put a kid in the bad situation and somebody that’s not going to be able to grow with the program.
So we took one high school guy, Aaron and Dimitri, which was perfect for what we needed.  They were older guys and both were going to help our culture.  They weren’t just here to get better numbers and build a basketball career.  They were here to help me build it.  And we had a lot of conversations.
The hard part was to coach a bunch of guys that you barely know and they’re in their senior year.  That’s why I keep talking about their character.  It’s not easy to do that.  There are a bunch of guys who only played one year, they’ve got a brand‑new coach, brand‑new system, and when we start not having success, to remain to fight and play the way they’ve played.  As I told them, that’s why I love them.  I just think they’re the right kind of kids.  I wish my son would grow up to be like those guys, because it’s not about the tangible results of the record.  It’s about the way they approached it every day.
We were 1‑11 and people would come to practice and be amazed by the spirit of the team, and that’s amazing to me.  So that’s why I love these guys.

Q.  Can you speak to how Olivier helped you change the culture of the program?
COACH CHRISTIAN:  I just think the way Olivier plays, approaches the game, works the game.  The best player, the thing that stood out the most to me about him is he never acted like he had all the answers.  He wants to get better, and that’s what great players do.  Great players just want to get better each and every day, because our best player was like that, it forced everybody else to be that way, and that’s what’s going to make him special.
Again, at some point, like I told him, my job is to make him stick in the NBA.  This guy has the heart‑‑ I don’t know of anybody that has a bigger heart than Olivier Hanlan.  I don’t know if anybody’s going to be as committed as him, and that’s why he’s going to be special.  Whether it’s now or whenever he gets his opportunities, this is a special, special guy.



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