On Tuesday night, Charlotte went on the road and got a double-overtime win over the Central Michigan Chippewas to secure their third 2-0 start in the last five seasons (2007-08, 2009-10). Standing in between the Niners and their first 3-0 start since 1995 are the Lamar Cardinals (12 PM EST). This will be the second meeting between the two programs, the first taking place on December 12th, 1975 resulting in a 91-86 Charlotte victory. That was the same score of our first Central Michigan game too. Mind blown?
Last season, Lamar finished 13-17 (7-9 in league play), resulting in the termination of Steve Roccaforte following five seasons at the helm. The 2011-12 version of the Cardinals are coached by Pat Knight, you know who his dad is. Lamar is sitting on a 1-2 record after beating Arkansas State 65-62 to open the season, followed by the Cardinals dropping two in a row to Louisville, 68-48, and Ohio, 85-78 in overtime. The problem for Lamar so far would have to be the shooting. Only 33% of the Cardinals shots have gone in, exemplified by a 23% shooting effort against Louisville.
Lamar rebounds well, pulling down 41.7 rebounds a game, but Charlotte rebounds better hauling in 50.5 a game in their first two contests. Both Chris Braswell and Javarris Barnett are averaging 11 rebounds apiece. Lamar’s rebounding is led by pesky 6’2” guard Devon Lamb, who averaged 8.3 rpg last season and is maintaining that average this season. Lamb accounted for 100 offensive boards last year, boxing him out will be key to limiting second chance opportunities by the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have four scorers in double-digits, but before you go adding up all those points, all four average between 10 and 11.7 ppg. That 11.7 total belongs to Charlie Harper. Harper, 6’5” 210 lbs. forward, gets most of his points banging with the big guys inside, stepping outside the arc to take only one shot (which he made). With 11.3 ppg is senior sharp-shooter Brandon Davis, in the three games so far he has made 8 of his 16 3-point shot attempts (remember when Derrio Green did that in one game?). His percentage last season was 37.5%, and the Niners would be more than glad to help him knock it back down to that level.
Seniors Mike James and Anthony Miles are both averaging 10 points a game. This combo led the Cardinals in scoring last season with 12.5 and 11.9 ppg, respectively. While their actual point totals aren’t much lower, their efficiency has almost been halved. James shot 42% last season, and this season has only converted 24% of his attempts, Miles boasts a similar drop from 44% to 22%.
The inside authority for Lamar is 6’11” center Osas Ebomwonyi. “Ebaumsworld” saw limited action in the first game. While averaging 25 minutes in the second two games, he has averaged 3 blocks to go with 7 rpg and 6.5 ppg. He fouled 3 times each in the last two games after committing zero in thee seven minutes he logged in the opener.
Keys for a Charlotte Victory
- Put a body on Devon Lamb to keep him from rebounding, to limit second-chance points by Lamar.
- Smother Davis on the perimeter, don’t let him get comfortable. He has been hot this season, and it’s time to cool him off.
- Force James and Miles into bad shots, neither are shooting 25%, but still taking a lot of shots. A lot of Lamar’s empty possessions will end with the ball coming out of their hands.
- Use our size to get Ebomwonyi in foul trouble, Braswell has been unstoppable against smaller teams, if he can get going against someone like this and get to the line, the game will open up in favor of the Niners. It might be necessary to get Ilija Ivankovic and Mike Thorne off the bench in this one.