Fresh off an invigorating victory over the flagship A10 program, Xavier, it’s time for the Charlotte 49ers to unwelcome a familiar and despised nemesis into Halton Arena, the George Washington Colonials. If you need a reminder as to why you should hate them, and you really, really should, look no further.
Karl Hobbs’ Colonials come to Charlotte boasting an 11-11 record, 4-4 in the Atlantic 10. GW hasn’t gotten their lot of wins in the most difficult fashion -the highest RPI team they’ve beaten is East Carolina at home, currently with an RPI of 129. The Colonials got off to a 3-0 start in league play, with two wins over the Atlantic 10′s pair of goose eggs, Fordham and Saint Joseph’s. They have since dropped four of five and are trending downward fast; Hobbs may have to find a way to get more out of his team to get off the hot seat.
For the Colonials, the show is run through guard Tony Taylor. Taylor is averaging 14.3 points a game to lead his team in scoring, also dishing out 4.2 assists per game with an Assist-to-Turnover ratio of 1.8. Taylor specializes in getting inside and drawing contact, ranking in the top 150 in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Unfortunately for Taylor, he shoots just 68% from the charity stripe. Joining Taylor in the back court are Aaron Ware and Bryan Bynes, who are limited offensivly, shooting 12.5% and 29.2% from beyond the arc. If the Niners’ zone can keep the ball from getting into the paint, we should hope that these two guys opt to chuck the ball at the rim from outside.
The sharp-shooter for GW is freshman forward Nemanja Mikic, from Serbia. Mikic shoots 46% from long range and knocks in 2.4 a game on average, Charlotte will need to have a man in his face the moment he gets the ball on the perimeter, if one guy will destroy us by shooting over our zone, this is him. Another forward to keep an eye on his Dwayne Smith. He’s averaging 9.7 points a game, good for second on the team. Smith does his work inside the paint, and has created a lot of second chance opportunities for the Colonials by pulling in 2.7 offensive rebounds per game. The Colonial frontcourt is anchored by senior center Joseph Katuka, who tallies 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Mikic and Katuka anchor George Washington’s mediocre, borderline abysmal, free throw shooting, knocking in 33.3% and 55.6%of their free throws, respectively.
In last years meeting, George Washington’s defensive strategy was to harass DiJuan Harris throughout the game, and it nearly worked until some late-game Derrio Green heroics secured a 72-68 home victory for the 49ers. In the second matchup last year, GW held the Niners to less than 35% for a 75-70 victory. The Colonials are nearly as effective at creating turnovers as Duquesne, and we all know our guards have a tendency to give the ball up to the other team. Limiting turnovers will be a necessity if Charlotte looks to keep it’s momentum from the thrilling win over Xavier on Wednesday.
The question for Charlotte is who will step up, and take over the game for the 49ers. On Wednesday, it was Derrio Green, sinking all ten of his free throws, several in the final minute, to secure the win. Against La Salle, KJ Sherrill and Javarris Barnett contributed, but it wasn’t enough for the win. In games earlier this season others have lead the team in scoring, whether it be Green, Jamar Briscoe or Chris Braswell. With our shooting troubles someone(or someones) have to take it upon themselves to score the ball for the 49ers. This is not that good of a team, if the Niners defend with the intensity they did with against Xavier, this game should not be in question, and would be the icing on the cake of a week in which the Musketeers fell in Halton, and Major received another commitment from a recruite.
Keys to the game:
- Play Mikic tight on the perimer, if he’s going to get hot from behind the arc, he should have to do it with a hand in his face.
- Limit Tony Taylor from penetrating in the lane and producing points, much like how Tu Holloway was defended.
- Take care of the ball, this is a ball hungry defense, and the Niners can’t afford to be careless.
- Stay fresh, Charlotte will only go eight deep while the Colonials have gone ten deep in 18 of 22 games