Charlotte collapsed like the Roman Empire last season and as a result, it cost their long-time head coach his job. With a new man in charge, the 49ers return some talented players and will hope to contend in the Atlantic 10.
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By: David Kay
Charlotte 49ers (T-5th, 9-7 in A-10, 19-12 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Chris Braswell (So)/Phil Jones (Sr)
F: Shamari Spears (Sr)/K.J. Sherrill (So)/Gokhan Sirin (So)
SF: Ar’Juan Wilderness (Sr)
SG: Derrio Green (Jr)/Javarvis Barnett (Jr)
PG: Jamar Briscoe (So)/Luka Voncina (Fr)
Gone: PG-DiJuan Harris, G-Ian Anderson, G/F-Rashad Coleman, G-Charles Dewhurst, SG-Shamarr Bowden (transfer-Delaware)
A year after finishing with an 11-20 record, the 49ers seemed NCAA Tournament bound when they started the 2009-2010 season 18-5, 8-1 in A-10 play. But the wheels fell off faster than The Situation whips out his abs a night club as Charlotte lost seven of their last eight games including an upset defeat at the hands of UMass in the first round of the A-10 Tournament. Because the 49ers failed to make the Big Dance for the fifth straight season, 12-year head coach Bobby Lutz was shown the door.
Former Ohio State assistant Alan Major inherits a talented team that returns its entire frontcourt. Shamari Spears is probably one of the best A-10 players you have never heard of and had a terrific debut year in Charlotte after transferring from Boston College while Chris Braswell is coming off an extremely productive freshman season. 6-10 senior Phil Jones provides some quality depth up-front and sophomore K.J. Sherill should see an expanded role off the bench.
The backcourt is a bit of a different situation. Derrio Green brings some stability at shooting guard but the 49ers lose four players who saw significant minutes in the backcourt including starting point guard DiJuan Harris. N.C. Central transfer Jamar Briscoe becomes eligible after sitting out a year and will likely be asked to take over as floor general. The depth behind Briscoe and Green is thin and unproven which is a concern.
With a thin roster that only has ten scholarship players, the starting five will need to stays healthy and plays like they did the first two-thirds of last season if Charlotte has a chance of dancing this season in what should be another competitive Atlantic 10 Conference.
Player to Watch: Jamar Briscoe, PG
Briscoe averaged 17.8 points per game in his lone season at N.C. Central and was second only behind Seth Curry in freshman scoring during the 2008-2009 season. He will make the jump to the A-10 which means facing better competition so it is unrealistic to expect a repeat of those numbers. The 49ers will need to become more of a creator and distributor as he takes over the point guard responsibilities. With a true freshman behind him on the depth chart, Briscoe will be the x-factor in Charlotte’s success this season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/18-11/20 vs. Georgetown/N.C. State/George Mason/East Carolina/Wofford (Charleston Classic)
11/24 at Oregon State
12/17 vs. Tennessee
1/2 at Georgia Tech
Other 99 in 99’s:
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State