In a land of tall pines and short days, a 6'6" basketball player is stepping up to help Bowdoin improve upon last year's 13-12 record. Thanks in part to the strong performance of forward Will Hanley '12, the Polar Bears are 3-1 going into this weekend's game at Bates.
"My dad got me and my brother playing early on," Hanley recalled, "and my senior year of high school our team posted one of the best records in school history."
After playing sporadically as a first year, Hanley has started this year and last. His sophomore year, the Maine Men's Basketball Coaches and Writers Association awarded him All-State honors after he was second in the NESCAC with 11 double-doubles and 9.0 rebounds per game. He led the Polar Bears with 28 blocked shots last year, was second in scoring with 13.8 points per game, and was named NESCAC Player of the Week in February.
"I knew this year I would be inheriting more of a leadership position than last year," Hanley said, "since we had three senior captains then and now we only have one. The five of us juniors are pretty well connected, and while we form a strong core of the team, we have a solid supporting cast that will help us do well."
This fall, Bowdoin won the season's opening tournament in Rhode Island, and Hanley was named MVP. With 34 points, 19 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and 15-for-30 field goal shooting over two games, he felt this was his best moment of the season.
The day before Thanksgiving break, a 41-point win over University of New England sent Bowdoin's players off on a good note. Statistically, it was Hanley's best game of the year, with 21 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
"Although we won by a bunch, it was still a good game," Hanley said. "We played well throughout it, and almost everybody scored."
This past Tuesday, Hanley played a big role in keeping Bowdoin in a close game against Southern Maine. Although the Polar Bears lost 70-68, Hanley scored 18 points and had seven rebounds.
Hanley is currently leading the team in points (18.3) and rebounds (8.5) per game. He is also averaging 2.5 assists, with a .534 field goal percentage in 29.0 minutes per game.
He said that he is "not huge for a big man" and added that he relies on "creative moves down low," along with superior dribbling and shooting ability, to outmatch his opponents.
Coach Tim Gilbride knows how important Hanley is to his team.
"Will is an outstanding player and leader on our team," he said. "When we play our match-up zone he serves as a director for us from his position in the back of our defense. On offense, he is our most productive player, as his ability to drive from the outside, shoot and post up make him extremely difficult to defend. He is also extremely unselfish, so that his teammates benefit from his skills as well."
The Bates game will be Bowdoin's first chance to get revenge since the Bobcats beat the Polar Bears in last season's NESCAC Tournament.
"The team just has to forget about the loss," said Hanley. "We definitely think we can keep up with Bates, and we hope we can play our style of ball in their gym, even with a big crowd, to walk away with a win."