Overall Rank: #126
Conference Rank: #9 Atlantic 10
2008-09: 11-20, 5-11
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Bobby Lutz (199-146 at Charlotte, 380-237 overall)
Charlotte was the model of inconsistency during the 2008-2009 campaign. This is a team that only won 11 games all year long, but three of those were against Mississippi State, Dayton and Xavier. How a team can beat Xavier one day and then lose to Richmond and George Washington within the next week is mind boggling. But if you unboggle your mind for a moment it is because the 49ers were plain awful on the road. Coach Bobby Lutz hopes a year of experience will change that.
Key Losses: F Charlie Coley, F Lamont Mack
The newcomers will play a big role on this team, especially if the injury bug strikes again. Shamari Spears, a transfer from Boston College, and Chris Braswell will make a big impact up front. Spears averaged 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Eagles two years ago and will immediately help replace forwards Charlie Coley and Lamont Mack. At 6-8 and 260 pounds, Braswell has the size to battle in the paint with anybody and will be asked to play a lot of minutes at the five spot. Add fellow forwards K.J. Sherrill and Gokhan Sirin to the mix and the frontcourt has a lot of new and talented players.
The backcourt has a couple new players as well, but more on them later. For now the group on the perimeter is led by DiJuan Harris. The 5-9 senior had an amazing campaign last season, averaging 9.0 points and 7.2 assists per game. By the end of the year Harris was dishing out ten assists per game. If Charlotte has a shooter returning, it is Ian Andersen. Andersen was second on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, but he epitomizes Charlotte’s struggles last year. Andersen took 7.4 three-pointers per game, but only connected on 35.5 percent of those attempts. Rashad Coleman, who started 17 games last season, is even worse when it comes to shooting, but he can get to the basket and help out on the glass.
An’Juan Wilderness and Charles Dewhurst both missed some time with injuries, but they can be productive players if healthy. Wilderness tallied 7.9 points per game and the 6-6 junior is an explosive athlete and can be very difficult for many opposing small forwards to defend. Phil Jones could emerge as a senior leader on this team. At 6-10 and 260 pounds, the center is certainly a presence under the basket. He probably will not play much more than 20 minutes per game again this year, but he is a solid rebounder, especially on the offensive end and that leads to some easy buckets and quick points. How much he has to play will depend on the development of Braswell. Ideally, Braswell will start and Jones will once again come in off the bench, but if Braswell is not ready to start, Jones should be capable of playing a few more minutes per game than he did last year.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt returns plenty of players, but they might not be playing as much this year due to the addition of redshirt freshman Shamarr Bowden and junior college transfer Derrio Green. Bowden is the player who can turn the awful three-point shooting around in a hurry and Green is an experienced player who can play either guard spot. It is too early to give either of those guys starting jobs, but the battles for playing time will be fierce at the shooting guard spot.
Andersen is the player who could get pushed out of the mix despite being the team’s leading returning scorer. That shows how much talent this group can have if they can stay healthy and consistent. The newcomers are very talented and this is simply a group that needs to start believing they can win and stick with it game in and game out, whether it be at home or on the road.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
DiJuan Harris, Senior, Guard, 9.0 points per game
Ian Andersen, Senior, Guard, 9.7 points per game
An’Juan Wilderness, Junior, Forward, 7.9 points per game
Shamari Spears, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
Phil Jones, Senior, Center, 7.3 points per game