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Long Season Ends with Hope for the Future

Well SuperFans, another season has come to an end. The men’s basketball team was eliminated from the ACC Tournament in the second round by the University of North Carolina on Tuesday, bringing a tough season to a close.

To even reach the second round and face the Tar Heels, BC first had to play Georgia Tech on Monday afternoon. The Eagles pulled out a thriller against the Yellow Jackets, winning 66-65. The game was up for grabs until the final whistle. BC came out strong, opening up a seven point lead off the tip, but the Yellow Jackets closed the gap quickly and made the game very tight for the rest of the way.

Much of BC’s success in running their offense and spacing the floor was due to a standout performance from Patrick Heckman. The senior had 19 points and knocked down three big time three's. His performance was huge given that the Eagle’s second leading scorer, Aaron Brown, had only three points and shot one for seven from the floor.

As good as Heckmann was, Olivier Hanlan was the biggest contributor to the team's victory. The Eagle’s star guard struggled early, as he couldn’t find his shot in the first half; but come second half, he was able to catch his stride.  The floor general finished with eight rebounds, five assists and 25 points. Hanlan stuffed the stat sheet with some gawky numbers on Monday, but none of those stats showed how clutch he was down the stretch. With his team down six in the final two minutes, Hanlan orchestrated a furious comeback, punctuated by a knockdown go-ahead step back two on the baseline with ten seconds left to give the Eagles the win.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

However, Tuesday’s game against UNC was a different story, as the No. 19 Tar Heels took the win convincingly, 81 to 63. Despite as resurgence from Aaron Brown, resulting in a 20 point effort, Hanlan seemed to have run out of gas. The ACC’s leading scorer could only muster up 18 points and shot a disappointing 26% from the floor.

In all honesty, the outcome of this game did not come as a surprise after the contest against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets killed BC on the blocks, scoring with ease in the post, and the rebounding differential was astounding. The Jackets won the battle on the boards 43 to 26, and pulled down a ridiculous 19 offensive boards. That kind of effort against a Tech front court that is far less athletic and talented than the one the Eagles would face the next day was a bad omen.

The interior defensive woes continued on Wednesday for BC, as did the rebounding trouble. UNC won the overall rebound battle by 18, grabbed nine more offensive rebounds, and their starting front court scored 41 points by themselves. The Eagles often looked over-matched inside against both teams, but unlike in the Tech game, BC didn't stand a chance in the backcourt against UNC. Marcus Paige and Nate Britt gave the post-minded heels enough perimeter support to never really let BC into the game, subsequently ending their season.

The offseason for the Eagles will leave several questions. This year's roster was filled with seniors and grad students who will be leaving next season: Patrick Heckmann, Eddie Odio, KC Caudill, John Cain Carney, Alex Dragicevich, Aaron Brown and Dimitri Batten.

Heckmann, Brown and Batten all played significant minutes for the Eagles this season and started most games. Those three alone combined for 88.8 minutes per game. Replacing this senior class will be tough, but redshirted freshmen Darryl Hicks and injured freshman Idy Diallo will be a huge help.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Sophomore Will Magarity finished the season benched with an injury, but showed flashes of brilliance early in conference play against some of the nation’s best teams. Also, sophomore Garland Owens has proven himself to be an excellent defender, good rebounder, and elite player. He will probably see an increase in minutes from this season, and if he can improve on his ball handling and extend his jump shot range, he could be a huge asset to coach Jim Christian next year.

The biggest offseason story for the Eagles will be Olivier Hanlan and what he chooses to do with his future. Hanlan was first team all-ACC and led the best conference in the nation in scoring. Coach Christian and the rest of Chestnut Hill will have crossed fingers all spring, curious to see whether or not Olivier choses to leave for the NBA draft or decides to lead the Eagles one more year and further his legacy as one of BC’s best athletes in school history.

While the end of the season may be tough to swallow for many, given how hot BC was in its final games, the offseason leaves no shortage of intrigue for SuperFans to follow and watch for months to come.

Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.

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Unhealthy relationship with BC sports. Just a guy writing down the things he would usually yell at the TV.