UNC Charlotte homecoming is here. It’s the last one that will be centered around a Charlotte 49ers game–festivities will move to football (beginning with UNC Pembroke on October 12). For now, we focus on Saturday, and the UMass Minutemen.
Charlotte 49ers (16-4, 4-2 A-10) @ UMass Minutemen (14-5, 4-2 A-10)
Saturday, February 2, 2pm
Radio: ESPN 730, Charlotte49ers.com | TV: None
Who To Watch For
Three players for the Minutemen: junior Chaz Williams and senior Terrell Vinson. They’ve combined for 27.1 points per game (Williams 15.8, 16.7 in A-10 contests; Vinson 11.3, 10.8 in A-10). They are missing Jesse Morgan and his 13.4 ppg; he’s out for the season with a leg sprain suffered last month. But Cady Lalanne has done well in Morgan’s average in an increased role, with 11.7 points per over the six league contests the Minutemen have played thus far. Their big men (Lalanne, Raphiel Putney and Maxie Esho) have combined for 65 blocks; UMass averages 4.7 a game (3rd in the league).
Charlotte will win if…
–They can slow down the UMass offense. The Minutemen are 3rd in the conference with 72.2 points an outing (70.8 in league play)…
–…but give up 71.2 (third worst in the league; 68.8 in league play, 6th worst). If Charlotte can expose a less than stellar defense and get back to their own stingy brand of D that helped them early in the year, this game could be had.
–Understatement time: DeMario Mayfield‘s loss is huge. That means players like Chris Braswell (especially Braz) need to step up in a big way. That’s been missing over the past few games, and if he can’t get it together, the rest of the season will be a very long stretch.
–Win the battle on the glass. Charlotte’s grinders (Braswell and Willie Clayton) need to work the boards–and it’s ripe for the taking. UMass gives up 38.1 a game, worst in the league.
–Work the ball inside. Charlotte has a frustrating tendency to settle for outside shots too often. That hasn’t been their game and won’t look like it will be any time soon with this group. Don’t get frustrated with the shot blockers…just keep working it inside and don’t abandon that part of the game plan.