Tag Archive | "bobby lutz"

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Derrio erupts for 34 points as Niners dispatch Minutemen 72-58.

Posted on 31 January 2010 by NLP

The Niners were all smiles as Derrio Green lit UMass up with 34 points.

Derrio Green week in the Atlantic 10 came to a close with a 34 point peformance as the Niners defeated UMass at the Mullins Center 72-58.  The win puts the Niners back in a three way tie (6-1) with Temple and Xavier atop the league and with a 16-5 record are off to their best start since 2004-2005 when they ran out to a 21-4 record before losing their last four.

Green was at his best, connecting from both inside and out as he topped his outstanding 26 point performance earlier in the week against Temple.  Green connected on 8-16 from 3-point land and 9-19 overall.  Phil Jones was the only other Niner in double digits with 12, 7 of them coming consecutively in a run that took a perilous 3 point lead in the second half and extended it to 10.  The run included a three pointer and another where he seemed to have just one foot on the line.

For UMass, it was another dreadful night shooting the ball.  The Minutemen managed just 4 makes from 28 attempts from beyond the arc.  Ricky Harris was the leading scorer for UMass, scoring 25 on 11-24 shooting including 3-10 from outside.  Anthony Gurley was the only other player for the Minutemen in double figures, scoring 11 on 4-11 shooting and missing on all five of his attempts from deep.  Former Niner recruit Sean Carter had a solid game on the defensive end, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking 4 shots.

Both teams opened the game trading buckets early on with Gurley hitting a basket to give UMass an early 9-6 lead.  A Shamari Spears put back and a Derrio Green three pointer gave the Niners their first lead, one they would not relinquish.  It was this first half where Green did most of his damage, scoring 21 points, including 5 three-pointers and a dazzling drive and finish near the rim on a difficult scoop-shot layup.  The outburst gave the Niners an 8 point lead at the half, 34-26.

The second half opened up with a sustained run by UMass that cut the Niner lead to just one at 37-36 on a Ricky Harris layup.  The narrow lead persisted over the next two minutes as the teams exchanged misses, turnovers, and fouls until An’Juan Wilderness broke a 4 minute scoring drought with a tough layup.  That’s when Jones took over, scoring the next 7 points including a 3-pointer about 4 feet behind the arc as the Niners re-built the lead back into double digits.  A parade of free throws by Charlotte extended the lead to 17 with 6 minutes to go.  However, the Niners appeared to lose focus a bit in the closing stretch of the game, allowing UMass to shrink the lead to 10 with about a minute to go with miscues by Charles Dewhurst and a pair of surprising turnovers by DiJuan Harris.

Overall it was a solid win for the Niners as they showed the team can win the trap games on the road, something Derrio Green acknowledged in his post-game comments.  For fans, it’s comforting to see his development, as it shows teams will have to choose their poison against the Niners:  try to shut down the Niner perimeter game?  Shamari Spears and Chris Braswell will hurt you inside.  Focus on limiting the interior game like UMass did tonight (Spears had 4 points on 2-8 shooting, Braswell with 7 on 2-6 shooting) and Derrio will make you pay.

Though the Niners were outrebounded on the night by 5 and UMass managed 12 offensive boards, this should come as little surprise.  As we mentioned in the pregame, the Minutemen are tough rebounders, particularly on the offensive glass.  The Niners managed to secure a victory in my personal favorite stat:  foul shooting.  Charlotte hit 21 of 30 FTAs, the makes being 9 more than UMass even attempted (9-12).  An advantage like that is very difficult to overcome and is a hallmark of tournament caliber teams coached by Bobby Lutz.

Up next for the Niners are the George Washington Colonials on Wednesday in Halton Arena followed by a trip to the Bronx to take on the Fordham Rams next Saturday.  A pair of victories and the Niners could be looking at their first trip into the Top 25 in 5 years.

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Gameday vs UMass – Predictions – Grapeshot the Minutemen!

Posted on 30 January 2010 by J Felt

Bobby's Outfit for today.

Ah, the proverbial “trap” game. Fresh off a big victory against Top 15 Temple (to go into a tie for first place), Charlotte now travels cold Massachusetts to take on the young but dangerous Minutemen.

In years past, I wouldn’t even advise watching this game. I’d tell you that we’re probably going to lose and to spend your evening hoping to be surprised by the final score.

That’s the past though, and this Charlotte team has yet (knock on wood, now) to lose to a team that it shouldn’t. We’ve struggled against some, such as Saint Louis, but still managed to come out on top in the end. So call it hubris, but I think we’re going to win. Mostly because we’ve been consistent this year (ODU and Duke aside) and show up to play. For a team with so many new faces, it’s amazing how patient we’ve been as a team.

For those of you in the snow, fear not. This game is on ESPNU, so you don’t have to go out to a bar or watch a grainy feed on your laptop. Though, the crappy picture almost enhanced the experience against Richmond. Almost.

Predictions are below. The winner who leaves one in the comments will have their own Martin Iti big head to use at the next game.

J Felt – Charlotte 80, UMass 68. Niners struggle early, but Derrio “the Bayonet” Green tears up the Minutemen in the 2nd half.

NLP – I don’t want to play this game.  If I could veto any A10 game, it’d be this one. Lucky for us Derrio Green and DiJuan Harris turn into superheros when they don their jerseys.  Niners win in a tight one.  Charlotte 73 – UMass 72

D-Fo – Let’s keep it simple. Charlotte takes care of business.  WHO-Mass?  88-80 Charlotte.

JRitchie – The hottest team in the nation continues their streak by dismantling an inconsistent UMass team. Niners 84 Minutes 66

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Game #17: Saint Louis at Charlotte

Posted on 16 January 2010 by NLP

Raise your hand if you're the stupidest mascot in the nation.

Sunday afternoon the St. Louis (just kidding run49er), I mean Saint Louis Billikens take to the Halton Arena floor to square off against our beloved Charlotte 49ers (11-5).  The Billikens enter the game sporting the same 11-5 record on the Niners but enter the contest with a 2-0 conference record.  Saint Louis has defeated Richmond at home and most recently posted an impressive double-overtime win at Duquesne.

A welcome addition to svelte Head Coach Rick Majerus’ squad is freshman import Cody Ellis.  Ellis, a 6’8″ power forward finally received clearance to play by the NCAA (we know how that goes) and has posted a 12 point average in two games coming off the bench.  Despite being unproven in live game action, Ellis has logged an average of 27 minutes in this two games, and has pulled down 8 rpg.  His addition brings a very welcome addition for Saint Louis and changes the complexion of the team as well as how teams will have to prepare for them.

As young as the Xavier squad was that the Niners fell to on Wednesday, Saint Louis is even younger.   With Paul Eckerle out with a pre-season knee injury, the Billikens are comprised of entirely Freshmen and Sophomores.  According to Ken Pomeroy, that makes the Billikens 2nd least experienced team in the nation.  Leading the Billikens in scoring is So. PG Kwamain Mitchell, who puts up 16.2 ppg. on 46.6% shooting from the field and 36.1% from behind the arc. Giving the Billikens good inside balance to go with Mitchell is post man Willie Reed.  Reed is also a So., and averages 12.8 ppg. and 8.6 rpg. giving Saint Louis along with Ellis a pair of very good, young post players.

Rounding out the main starting unit for Saint Louis are wing players Brian Conklin (7.8 ppg.) and Christian Salecich (7.6 ppg.).  Coming off the bench to give the Billikens a boost from the perimeter is diminutive Fr. G Justin Jordan.  Jordan hits on 40% of his 3-point attempts and contributes 6.6 ppg. in just over 20 minutes a game.

As a team, Saint Louis provides a stark contrast to the Niners’ style of play, preferring a slower tempo and grinding out victories.  Saint Louis “only” averages 64.3 ppg. and limits the opposition to 58.5 ppg.  More impressive is their ability to force defenses into poor shooting, limiting them to just 38.0% from the field and 26.3% from the 3-point line.  The Billikens do have some weaknesses though that the Niners can hope to exploit.  Though a respectable team at blocking shots, Saint Louis does not excel at rebounding, allowing the opposition to out-rebound them by about 1.3 rpg.  Chris Braswell and KJ Sherrill could have big games on the glass, as the Niners will likely need plenty of second-chance scoring to overcome the Billikens’ excellent floor defense.

Additionally, Saint Louis is a bit suspect from the line, particularly at the F positions, where they convert just 63% of their attempts from the charity stripe.  If players like Phil Jones and Shamari Spears get beat on defense, strong fouls might be a better alternative to giving up the easy basket.  Of course, that’s not a good strategy if it leads to following out or extended stretches on the bench, of course.

For the Niners, some consistency in scoring is absolutely needed.  Though DiJuan Harris appears to be breaking out of his funk, Derrio Green needs to utilize better shot selection lest he fall in a slump of his own.  The Niners can ill-afford another 0-9 performance behind the arc from Green, particularly with the defection of Shamarr Bowden. As for Shamari Spears, I’m going to be a broken record.  When he gets the ball early in the possession he’s deadly.  If he’s not double or triple teamed, that is.  If he does receive pressure after the catch, he absolutely must do a better job of getting the ball back out, whether it’s to a backdoor player, a slasher like An’Juan Wilderness, or back out to the guards.  Too often has he forced the ball up in a crowd either missing the shot or getting stripped.  That’s not to say he’s a poor player; Shamari has been terrific.  But he can’t be his best until he can also use the attention he draws in the post to make his teammates get better scoring opportunities.

Two other players to keep an eye on are Fr. F Gokhan Sirin and So. F Javarris Barnett.  Both received more action in the Xavier game and this trend may continue as the Niners look to replace the perimeter offense of Bowden.  Sirin in

Rick is bringing sexy back.

particular, despite missing all his attempts against the Musketeers, continues to look more comfortable in the offensive flow.  One can only hope more opportunities leads to more improvement.  As for Barnett, it’s hard not to notice that he tends to do good things in the few minutes he receives.  Against Xavier he drilled a 3 in the corner that was waived off due to an offensive foul, and hit a little flip shot in the paint while collecting 2 rebounds in just 6 minutes.  Though he’s neither a true guard or true forward, his blend of skill and size can potentially lead to matchup problems in the time when he’s on the court.

Another player to keep a watch on is Wilderness, who is shooting a sizzling 63.9% from the field since his return from an early season calf injury.  Though Wilderness continues to struggle at the line, he is a terror around the rim and is probably the Niners best finisher close to the basket.

This game is going to be tougher than some anticipate.  A very young Saint Louis squad continues to improve and the addition of Cody Ellis will only help.  If the contest was at Chaifetz, I’d put this down as a loss, but I think the Niners go to 2-1 in A10 play by grinding out a victory tomorrow afternoon.  The rebounding of Braswell and the rest of the squad will be the determining factor, as the Niners will prevail in a game that will probably be ugly in terms of scoring and field goal percentage.

Oh, and kennethhouck gave a little tid bit in the comments to the X game that I’m going to pass along to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Tough loss to X.

For St. Louis, do you know what a Billiken is? It’s a Blue Demon. Do you know why SLU has a Blue Demon? Did you see the Exorcist? The movie is based on a real story. The real exorcsim was in a building on the SLU campus. No one goes in the room where the exorcism takes place. It’s sealed up. A window cleaner was on the fire escape cleaning windows, & went down to the floor to clean the outside of the window of the sealed room. He was scared s**tless when he saw a blue demon in the room.
The Niners will have to perform a real life exorcism to beat Rick “tub of lard” Majerus. SLU always has tough defense. We had a game there one time where both were in the 30′s with 3 minutes to go.
Pick: Niners 13, Scary A** Window 12.

We’ll move this to the predictions tomorrow when J Felt gets off his butt and writes it.  Or gets on his butt.  I really don’t want to know in what state of being he writes his articles now that I think about it.  I’m going to go bleach my eyes now.

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Niners take to the road to face Musketeers

Posted on 13 January 2010 by NLP

After a hard-fought win over St. Bonaventure, and in hindsight, a not-so-surprising player defection, the 11-4 Charlotte 49ers head to Cincinnati to face the Xavier (pronounced Eggs-savier) Musketeers.  Xavier enters the game 10-5 (2-0) with a pair of road wins in A-10 play to open their conference slate.  Most recently the Musketeers bested much-improved George Washington in a game that saw Xavier down 11 points in the 2nd half before surging ahead and winning by 7.

Winning at the Cintas Center will be a very tall order for the Niners -no team has won in Cincinnati in the last three years and Xavier was won 24 straight conference home games.  Xavier is a very deep, albeit still young team.   The Musketeers can do it from inside and out.  As a team they hit 45% from the field and an impressive 39% from behind the arc.  Choose your poison with Xavier.   They rebound the ball about as well as the Niners;  a little better on the defensive glass, a little worse on the offensive glass.  Xavier turnsover the ball about 13 times a game (similar to the Niners) and generate about the same amount of steals and blocks.

The lone Sr. on the squad is Jason Love, brother of former UCLA standout Kevin Love.  Love is a load in the paint at 6’9″ and 265 lbs.  He’ll be quite the matchup to contain for Chris Braswell, Shamari Spears, and Phil Jones as he averages nearly a double-double a game: 10.7 ppg. and 9.5 rpg.  Joining Love upfront is fellow upperclassman Jamel McLean.  McLean had been essentially the same player who averaged 4 and 4 last year for Xavier, but that certainly changed against Wake Forest with an eye-opening 21 point, 10 rebound performance.

For the game tonight it appears Xavier coach Chris Mack again will go with Kenny Frease at the C position, going big as opposed to the three-guard starting lineup Xavier has used often this season.  Frease, a 7 foot So., has averaged 6.0 ppg. and 4.3 rpg. in just under 19 minutes of action/game.  Despite his considerable size, Frease is a pretty even matchup with the Niners as he’s not particularly fleet of foot.  Phil Jones and Chris Braswell could be productive against him when he is in the game.

In the backcourt is where Xavier really excels with a pair of terrific So. guards in Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway.  Holloway is tied with Love for 2nd on the team in scoring at 10.7 ppg. and also leads the team in assists with 3.8 ppg.  He’s also a tremendous asset at the end of games as he sports a better than 90% FT percentage.  Though Holloway gets his buckets fairly evenly both inside and outside the arc, he’s a surprisingly poor shooter overall from the field at just over 35%.  This presents a bit of a conundrum for the Niners:  do they play man and encourage someone like Holloway to drive or play zone and try to take away the Xavier inside game?  That problem gets magnified all the greater when considering Crawford, clearly the most talented player on Xavier, and across the A-10 conference.  Crawford is a transfer from Indiana who is famous for posterizing Lebron James over the summer.

Crawford is definitely as good as advertised, leading Xavier with 19.3 ppg. and also putting in 5.0 rpg.  He’s dangerous both inside and out hitting 43% from the field and just under 30% from behind the arc.  Of late, Crawford has been taking the ball to the hoop more, scoring practically at will with his athleticism and finishing.  He does have a selfish streak though, and that can work against them when he’s determined to score and forces bad shots in traffic or out of the “flow” of the offense.  That’s been less the case recently, and that’s a credit to Chris Mack who’s doing a nice job in his rookie campaign as Xavier’s coach.  So back to the problem:  how do the Niners defend Xavier?  Our hunch is there will be a lot of zone, and perhaps some exotic flavors such as box-and-1 to keep track of Crawford.

This is going to be a battle on par with Duke, Tennessee, and ODU for the Niners.  Xavier is about impossible to beat in recent years during A10 play at home and there’s no reason to believe this year will be any different.  Though not impossible, a win tonight will be a very tough task for the 49ers.  Balanced scoring inside and out is a must and the Niners can not fall into big first half deficits like they have against Duke, ODU, GT, and Tennessee.  Xavier is too tough defensively to let Charlotte get back into the game should that happen.

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Halfway Point – Where do we stand?

Posted on 12 January 2010 by J Felt

Please hold the Bon Jovi references to the comments section.

With Saturday’s win over Saint Bonaventure we’ve not only matched our win total from last season, but we also crossed the mid point for our regular season. At 11 wins last year, we were in February. At 11 wins this year, we’re just starting conference play. That’s an improvement I’d take any day of the week.

However, compared to last year, any winning record at 15 games would be an improvement. But that doesn’t mean we’re all content in Niner Nation. Even the most optimistic of the fanbase (contributors to GreenTintedGlasses.net, perhaps) are feeling almost disheartened at this season so far.

We’ve been absolutely demolished twice (@ ODU and @ Duke), solidly defeated once (@ Tenn), and missed a great opportunity to make a statement against Georgia Tech in Halton. Of course, if you look at those losses as just Ls on paper, they aren’t bad. Duke is pretty darn spectular, and Georgia Tech just beat them. Tennessee took down undefeated #1 Kansas and ODU is a solid team all around and hard to beat at home. So our losses (again, not looking at score margin) aren’t that bad.

What about our wins? Our fantastic eleven wins. Well, they look alright on paper, but taking a closer look they aren’t that impressive. We have one key win at Louisville, one fairly solid win at Hofstra, and then 9 wins over teams we might’ve beaten last year.

The truth is, we might be really good and don’t know it yet. Or we could be really bad and have just padded our record versus terrible teams. Or we’re just mediocre. It’s hard to tell at this point, but we’ll see how things go in conference play. Here’s a look back at the past half-season…

Best Game – @ #18 Louisville, Charlotte wins 87-65

Is there another game this season that even comes close to the smack down we put on the Cardinals in Freedom Hall? While the Cardinals may have been out 3 players, there’s a good chance we would’ve won that game anyway when you consider the way we played. Chris Braswell put up a 21/14 double-double, Derrio and Bowden poured in 37 points, and DiJuan Harris looked unstoppable breaking the press. Blame this game for everyone’s expectations being raised.

Worst Game –

No question, it’s the Duke game.  From opening tip-off to the end of the game, the Niners were in the fetal position.  It was a comedy (dark comedy) of errors, turnovers, wild three-pointers, and turnovers and errors, and wild three-pointers.  Duke of course responded with transition basket after transition basket and the Blue Devils steam-rolled the Niners by 42 points.  I think I still have a bruise from that game.

Most Memorable Play – Derrio Green’s 3 at the half against Louisville

I wanted to mention his barrage to open the game, but I refuse to be mathematically challenged and instead opted for Green’s dagger at the half against the Cardinals.  You could feel the crowd seething as Derrio swaggered off the court with his hand holding up three fingers.  In all, it was Derrio’s 4th three-pointer of the first half and was really his first coming out party for the Niners.

Honorable mention goes do DiJuan’s shot to give the Niners a 1 point lead against GT, capping a furious comeback from a deficit that was as large as 15 points in the second half.  The basket nearly blew the roof off the arena, but the celebration wasn’t to last.

Most Forgettable Play – Ian Andersen steps on the line at Tennessee

If one moment summed up why Ian has moved into the “disdain” category for 49ers fans, it might be this one. In the midst of a semi-comeback against the Vols, Ian Andersen inbounds the ball to Phil Jones and goes for the handoff in the corner. Usually this play is followed by a three pointer, instead Ian Andersen hadn’t stepped across the inbounds line, and was essentially still out of bounds. Boneheaded plays like this will lose close games later in the season.

Biggest Surprise –

The Turkish Terror, Gokhan Sirin.  After looking absolutely lost against JCSU, he’s performed well in spots.  Particularly encouraging was the 12 points in just 7 minutes of action against Winston Salem State.  Though WSSU isn’t exactly top notch competition, it’s always good to see freshman play well when given the chance, and Sirin showed he’s much more than a spot-up shooter.  Sirin hit a nice mid-range pull-up jumper in transition and also attacked the basket on occasions.

Team MVP –

DiJuan Harris.  Statistically it’s probably Shamari Spears but DiJuan is the one who makes it click.  We go as he goes.  When he’s in we play much, much better than when he’s out, and it’s clear the players respond to his leadership.  DiJuan is by no means the flashiest player we’ve ever had on the court, nor the most statistically productive, but he has tremendous heart and that’s a intangible that’s hard to put a measure on.

Best Newcomer –

Shamari Spears, but Derrio and Braswell are also invited to the conversation.  Spears wins because he gives scoring in the paint, which the Niners have lacked for years now, and he commands a near constant double and sometimes triple team.  Though he doesn’t pass out of the pressure in the paint like he should, it does free up opportunities for other players.

Best Returner –

DiJuan Harris.  See above.

Biggest Disappointment –

This is easy.  Definitely Shamarr Bowden.  Heralded as a savior of sorts, Bowden is one of the first things people point to when suggesting last year’s 11-20 record would have been much improved were it not for personnel losses of the likes of Bowden.  Pointing to his performance in Canadia last summer where he led the team in scoring, you can see the reasons for optimism.  Unfortunately it didn’t pan out once the games started counting.  Aside from his outburst against UNCA in the first game of the season, Bowden has been anything but consistent… or patient.  This combination culminated last with Bowden’s decision to leave the program.  We respect Bowden here at GTG.net and wish him well, but wonder what might have been if he learned to play within himself and the team.

Coach’s Grade –

Some here would want to put a big fat F and cite our losses to Duke, ODU, GT, and Tennessee. It’s hard to fault a team for losing all of those games, but sometimes our fans can expect too much right away. Duke, GT, and Tenn were all ranked opponents, and OSU is no slouch at home. And while the ultimate blame falls on the coach, he isn’t the one that curled into the fetal position against Duke and ODU, our players have to step up. We should have beaten Georgia Tech, and our shot selection was part of that, something Bobby is known to have little control over, but it’s hard to hold the loss against Tennessee against anyone. That “depleted” squad just knocked off the #1 team in the nation. All in all, Bobby’s doing a lot of the things this year we have wanted him to; reign in his shooters and go inside to our bigs Spears, Jones, and Braswell. However, our defense alone prevents him from getting a great grade. We’re giving him a B minus. The B is because we’re 11 and 4 and haven’t lost to any “bad” teams, the minus is because we don’t play defense. This could very easily turn into an A if we show some improvement and return the swagger, but a C or D isn’t out of the question as we go into conference play.

Expectations for rest of season…

We at GreenTintedGlasses.net collectively have no clue what to expect for the rest of the season. Ask us in Febuary.

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Niners set to being conference play; host St. Bonaventure

Posted on 08 January 2010 by NLP

Saturday night the Niners kick off Atlantic 10 conference play when they host the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.  After dropping a pair of non-conference games in painful fashion, Charlotte will be looking forward to a familiar foe, and the confines of Halton Arena, to get back to their winning ways.  The Niners enter the game at 10-4, one win away from equaling last season’s win total less than halfway into the season.

The eponymously mascotted Bonnies enter the contest at 7-7 having lost their A10 opener against a much-improved George Washington squad 78-71.  With a current RPI of 150, the Bonnies have been the model of consistency:  no losses to teams with a worse (higher) RPI, no wins against teams with a better RPI.  Let’s hope that trend holds for tomorrow night!

Leading the way for the Bonnies is an impressive big man from north of the border in So. Andrew Nicholson.  The cagey Canuck leads the team with 15.8 ppg. on an impressive 63.2% shooting from the field.  Nicholson also hauls in 7.4 rpg. which is also good for tops on the team.  The past two games have seen the Niners interior defense torched by quality big men and Nicholson, despite flying under the national radar for the most part, will do his best to extend that streak.  Braswell and Jones in particular are going to have to play much better on the defense end and force Nicholson to work on both ends of the court to help slow him down.

St. Bonaventure also has a pair of Sr. guards that do plenty of scoring in Jonathan Hall and Chris Matthews.  Matthews (11.8 ppg.)  is the more perimeter-oriented player of the pair, getting the bulk of his points from behind the arc, where he shoots 38.8%.  Hall (12.4 ppg.), on the other hand, is a more transition/slashing type guard that uses his size and frame to score closer to the basket (he’s only attempted 10 3s on the year, hitting 2).  He’s also second on the team in rebounding, hauling in just under five boards a game.

Also joining the duo in the backcourt is top distributor Malcolm Elerby, who’s chipping in a shade under 7 ppg. on 34.7% shooting from the field and Michael Davenport who’s good for 8.9 ppg. on 45.8%.  The Bonnies are a very guard-oriented team.  Aside from Nicholson only forward Da’Quan Cook sees extended minutes amongst players taller than 6’6″.  This should benefit the Niners, particularly in the rebounding department.

Though the Bonnies continue to improve under Coach Schmidt, we think an upset in Halton Arena is too big a task for St. Bonaventure tomorrow night.  Though many might think or hope for a blowout, a win of the 10-15 point variety is more realistic considering both the improvement of the Bonnies and the less-than-stellar play of the Niners recently.

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Game #14: Niners look to shoot up Volunteers

Posted on 05 January 2010 by NLP

Wednesday night the Niners roll into Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the final non-conference game of the season.  The Volunteers, ranked 15th/16th in the polls, will sport a much different look than in their latest victory, a 66-59 victory over the Mempiss Tigers.  Tyler Smith, Cam Tatum, Brian Williams, and Melvin Goins will all be suspended for the game (and perhaps beyond) thanks to their recent brush with the law.  Despite the depleted roster, the Volunteers are still a dangerous, talent-laden squad with an excellent coach in Bruce Pearl.

The most likely changes to the Vols lineup will be part-time starter J.P. Prince (Sr. G/F) taking over for Tatum.  Prince, cousin of NBA star Tayshaun Prince, puts up 6.0 ppg. in just under 20 minutes of action/game.  The biggest drop off in play compared to Tatum is from long range.  Prince is much less of a threat to hit the 3, managing just one across 12 games this season.   What he does add is tremendous length at the swing position.  Prince gets a lot of dunks for a wing player and blocks plenty of shots as well, not to mention being tied for 2nd on the team with assists.  He could certainly give the Vols some interesting looks defensively if they opt to play zone to preserve players:  Imagine Ian trying to shoot over him.  SLKDjf;saf.  Do not want.

Replacing Tyler Smith in the starting lineup may likely go to Renaldo Woolridge, a backup So. PF who’s built and styled more to be a wing forward than a power forward but manages to get the job done in the paint pulling down 8 boards and blocking a shot in a win against NC A&T.   With Smith getting the bulk of the minutes at the PF position, Woolridge has averaged 3.5 ppg. in 8.2 mpg. of play.  Although not a deadly shooter from long range, Woolridge can step outside and hit 3-pointers, shooting just under 30% from behind the arc through his young career.

The regular starters are led by Sr. Wayne Chism.  Chism is a 6’9 C/F who’s UT’s leading rebounder (5.8 rpg.) and third in scoring at 10.9 ppg.  Like seemingly every Volunteer, Chism likes to drift out and shoot the three, and pretty well for someone of his size converting on 35.7% of this attempts.  He’s also very solid at the line, making more than 80% of his FTs.  He is a bit foul prone averaging 3.0 fouls/game in just over 21 mpg. of play, which could play into the Niner’s hands should the  men in green get the inside attack rolling.  Leading the offense from the point guard position is Sr. Bobby Maze.  Maze typically distributes more than he scores, putting up 7.5 ppg. on a modest 38.4% from the field; however, he is terrific from the foul line. Leading the team in scoring so far this season is terrific So. G Scotty Hopson, averaging 13.3 ppg. on 49.2% from the field and a stellar 41.3% from behind the arc.  Oddly enough, he’s a bit suspect at the FT line hitting on 56% of his attempts and somewhat careless with the ball, leading the team in turnovers.

In a game where so many players are missing, it is difficult to gauge how Bruce Pearl will approach the game.  Intuitively, it’s likely a given that UT will slow the game down from their usual frenetic pace (they average over 80 ppg.) and dial down their

typical pressure defense (teams average over 20 turnovers against the Vols).  The latter certainly comes as a relief to the Niners, as strong defense has been an Achilles’ Heel for Charlotte.

For the Niners, tempo and style of play will be key factors.  Clearly with Tennessee the Niners will want to play an intense, physical game, pushing the tempo where appropriate.  The inside game absolutely has to be up to snuff, as fouls will eat into a precariously thin Volunteer bench.  Shamari Spears needs to be a bigger factor in this game than the GT game, fighting for baskets closer to the rim as opposed to relying heavily on the fade away.  Phil Jones should also be a bit more comfortable, as Tennessee is a little smaller up front than Georgia Tech.  Two Niners who could play major roles are An’Juan Wilderness and Chris Braswell, who can frequently draw fouls on their defenders with their play close to the basket; however, a repeat of the free-throw shooting performance from the GT game can’t happen.  Fouls come more difficultly on the road, and Wilderness in particular needs to convert.

This is becoming a scary sight for Niner foes.

One intriguing matchup will be for whoever defends Derrio Green.  Green had a breakout performance against Georgia Tech, lighting the Yellow Jackets up for 31 points.  Derrio did it with an array of drives to the basket and superior perimeter shooting, showing signs of being the kind of complete shooting guard the Niners have lacked for years.  Teams are now going to have to pay major attention to the So. guard, possibly freeing up more room for Spears down low.  Play zone against Derrio Green at your own peril!

So let’s wrap this up; this author is getting prolix.  Despite the holes in the UT roster due to suspension, they remain a very dangerous team playing in an environment where they seldom lose.

Regardless, the Niners need to come into this game with the attitude they can win, and unlike the GT game, execute the entire game.  A first half performance like they had Saturday will put them down by 25 to the Volunteers.  That simply can’t happen for the Niners to have any chance at victory.

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Grading the Seniors – 13 Game Review

Posted on 04 January 2010 by J Felt

So what, we lost to Georgia Tech at home. Sure, we could have won that game if a few possessions near the end went a little differently. Actually we probably would have won by a fair margin had we remembered how to pass the ball for five minutes in the first half. For awhile there, it looked like we were headed down the ODU or Duke road and things were going to get extremely ugly. But thanks to a heroic performance by Derrio Green and some actual defense, we gave the Yellow Jackets all they could handle until things slipped away at the end.

But we must move on. No use complaining about Lawal hitting 90% FTs rather than his usual 65%, we need to assign arbitrary grades to the senior class!

This senior class hasn’t accomplished much on paper during their careers. Andersen and Harris have a trip to the NIT (blowout loss to Nebraska) and two A10 tournament victories. And all three of them have at least one losing season under their belts. It’s been awhile since a four year guy hasn’t played in at least one NCAA, but Ian is at risk for that. Lots of time left to turn it around. All in all, this class is a vital part of the team, though the importance may not be equally distributed.

Because he’s not only a crowd favorite, but one of ours as well, DiJuan Harris is up first. He’s the type of warrior that coaches love to have on the team, the kind that wills his way on to a team as a walk-on and then earns a scholarship. Arguably the heart and soul of the 49ers, Harris is often the one seen “rallying the troops” during crucial parts of the game. Usually, he’s more consistent and can be trusted with the ball, as seen in the Louisville game, but his deficiencies are becoming more evident as the season progresses. For one, he’s not going to light teams up from the floor, nor is he going to shred the defenses by driving the lane. Blame it on his size, speed or ability if you will, but those are the biggest elements lacking in his game. Give DiJuan Harris 2 more inches of height, and you’d see our team having less trouble going inside to our big men. Until DiJuan figures out a way to fight through that disadvantage, we will always have a weakness as a team. But basketball isn’t just about ability, there’s a lot of intangibles, and DiJuan has most of them. He is the player who leaves everything on the court and will do anything it takes to win. Hopefully that includes driving the lane and using his speed to break down defenses. GTG.net Grade Thus Far: B

While he never really lived up to early expectations, Ian Andersen has always been a crowd favorite. When Ian was signed, we heard comparisons to Jobey Thomas and fell in love with his quirky behavior and goggles. ut he never really became that three point threat we all expected. He’s a tad slow and his shot is flat. His defense, though technically proficient and usually correct, lacks because he can’t stay with his defender. His first defensive possession against Georgia Tech resulted in a wide-open three pointer. It’s not that he isn’t trying, or doesn’t have an incredible work ethic, he’s just not nearly as athletic as you’d hope your two guard to be. Regardless, he’s an upfront guy and has the type of team first mentality you love to see. With Ian, he’ll do exactly what you expect him to do, play hard, run the plays and maybe even hit a few shots. GTG.net Grade Thus Far: C

As an unknown commodity, RaShad Coleman is a sort of enigma on this team. You never really know who will show up. Some nights, he seems unstoppable (Providence last year) but for the most part disappears. The first few games this season Coleman was drawing a lot of criticism by forcing bad shots and turning the ball over, but things have really changed since the Hofstra game. His minutes are reduced, but when he’s in the game he plays smart and works hard on defense. Still, he turned the ball over against Georgia Tech and has seen his playing time diminish as the season has progressed, especially since An’Juan has come back. GTG.net Grade Thus Far: B

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Gameday vs Georgia Tech – Squish the Jackets! – Predictions

Posted on 02 January 2010 by J Felt

For the second season in a row, Charlotte is playing host to an “almighty” ACC team in Halton Arena. Before we begin to taunt

Georgia Tech's bus ride home will look like this.

the Jackets and wish for their misery, let’s commend them for having the jewels to step up to the challenge. Clemson did it last year and almost walked away with a loss to one of our worst teams ever. But almost only counts in horseshoes and weight loss, this season we’re much improved and looking for another solid W for the ole’ tournament resume. When was the last time we actually checked our resume for typos, let alone actually thought it might land us a spot?

We haven’t been playing our best basketball as of late, especially on the defensive end, we were basically putting up traffic cones versus ODU and Mercer. Luckily, our offense was in gear for the Mercer game and we literally outscored them on our way to victory. We won’t be able to do the same versus GT. Our guards are going to need to step up their game and put some pressure on the ball and guard the perimeter. Oh and probably hit some shots from the outside as well. I think we’re due for a Shamarr Bowden offensive showcase, and hopefully it’s tonight.

Derrick Favors is a legitimate player, and our big guys will need to step up their games even more. While Phil and KJ have played good defense, Braswell and Spears play soft on that end. Would love to see them step it up tonight and win the battle of the paint.

So what do we predict? Is it too much to predict a win against a ranked team for the second time this season? It’s definitely possible, but it will be an all out war. The Charlotte 49ers who showed up at Louisville will have to reappear. Leave your predictions in the comments and the closest will win something amazingly awesome that words can’t describe.

J Felt – Charlotte 87, GT 80. Bobby locates the Jackets’ nest, pours gasoline in, lights the match and enjoys the show.

D-Fo – This one’s really gonna test Charlotte’s toughness down low.  Good thing Spears and Braswell come in hungry and chew up the ‘Jacket frontcourt, both scoring in double figures.  I can see this one being a brawl…Charlotte 85 – GT 79

HP – Hoping that Georgia Tech’s inside size is somewhat negated by Charlotte’s inside quickness. A few 3s will drop and the 49ers sneak out with their first 2010 win, 82-75.

Bust – Niners start the new year off with a splat.  Sanitation technicians work into the wee hours cleaning up Yellow Jacket guts. Guys in green win a thriller. Charlotte 82, Ga. Tech 77.

NLP – I’ll keep it simple:  We’re gonna win.  Charlotte 75 GT 73

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Charlotte hosts Georgia Tech, look to swat Yellow Jackets.

Posted on 01 January 2010 by NLP

Niners look to take the sting out of the Yellow Jackets.

We wish we could pretend this is just another non-conference home again versus a team playing in a world where conference affiliation doesn’t matter.  But it does.  Saturday 20th ranked Georgia Tech swarms into Halton Arena (7 PM start time, VERY few tickets remaining) marking just the 2nd time an ACC member has had the testicular fortitude to play the Niners in a true home game.

GT enters the game sporting the same 10-2 record as the Niners, though this will be just their 2nd true road game of the season.  Most recently, GT defeated Winston Salem State 78-43.  That game was the second already against a common foe for the Niners.  The Yellow Jackets also bested Mercer, whom the Niners played on Tuesday, by 11 points -the same margin as the 49ers victory.  The two losses for GT came against quality competition:  a 4-point loss to A10 pre-season favorite Dayton in Puerto Rico and a 7-point OT home loss to Florida State in their conference opener.

Georgia Tech has one of the better frontcourts in the country and they use their size effectively gaining a considerable rebounding advantage (+8.3 rpg.) and scoring about 58% of their points inside the arc.  The Yellow Jackets also get to the line regularly averaging 22 trips each game to the charity stripe.  Upfront, GT is lead by sensational freshman Derrick Favors, a 6’10″ force in the paint.  Favors is 2nd on the team in both scoring (12.9 ppg. on 60.4% shooting) and rebounding (9.0 rpg.) and is a likely lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.  He’s joined up-front by equally impressive6’9″  Jr. F Gani Lawal.  Lawal leads Georgia Tech in both scoring and rebounding (13.7 ppg. and 9.7 rpg.), and like Favors shoots at a very high percentage from the field.  Also look for Lawal to potentially go in the first round of the NBA draft should he declare after the season.

Another talented Fr. for GT is G Mfon Udofia, who like Favors, was a heralded addition to the team.   Udofia leads the team in assists and scores 11.4 ppg.  He’s also a modest threat from the perimeter hitting 34% from behind the arc.  Zach Peacock and Brian Oliver are a pair of bench forwards who also see frequent action and have the ability to stretch perimeter defenses with their strong outside shooting.  Rounding out the key players for GT is So. G Iman Shumpert who returns to action after missing a month of action with a torn meniscus.  Shumpert is the top distributor for the GT offense and was leading the team in assists at the time of his injury.  It will be interesting to see what kind of impact, if any, his return has for the Yellow Jackets squad; Niner fans will recall An’Juan Wilderness was limited in his return as he lacked both game conditioning and cohesiveness with the rest of the team.

As a team, GT is stout defensively, particularly at defending the perimeter.  The Yellow Jackets are limiting opponents to just 27% from behind the arc, meaning the Niners likely will have to go inside to win this contest and not rely on shooting from outside -though that’s been the case much of the year.  It will be an exciting matchup to see Phil Jones, Chris Braswell, and especially Shamari Spears go against the dominant front court of Georgia Tech.  Should the Niners win the scoring battle inside and keep the rebounding margin close, winning what should be an intense battle will be much easier.

If the Niners do have to turn to the arc for open shots, fans should feel relieved at the performance of Derrio Green against Mercer.  Green, perhaps finally getting back to 100% after his bout with plantar fasciitis, erupted for a season high of 23 points and was much more aggressive in going to the basket.  Derrio also showed improvement on defense, picking up 3 steals with one leading to a fast break dunk and another drawing an intentional foul.  With 1/3 of the three headed-monster at guard spots looking better, hopefully a little of the magic will rub off on DiJuan Harris and Shamarr Bowden who both appear mired deep in a funk.

This will no doubt be a tough contest for the Niners but we think they’re up to the challenge.  With a huge shot of confidence from what we expect to be a raucous Halton Arena crowd, the Niners can prevail if:

  • They remember it’s Georgia Tech that should fear our team, our arena, and our fans, and not the other way around.
  • Phil Jones and Chris Braswell put in solid performances on both sides of the ball.  That doesn’t mean 20 points each, but it means 20+ rebounds between them.
  • DiJuan Harris breaks out of his funk and can deliver or set-up points in transition

Otherwise Georgia Tech will succeed by:

  • Dominating the inside play and forcing a precarious Niner perimeter attack to win the game
  • Keeping Shamari Spears from scoring from the field or the line
  • Winning the turnover battle

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