I got a "sneak peek" at the Charlotte 49ers men's basketball team on Thursday as I watched one of their one-hour workout sessions allowed this week. Here are some observations on what I saw:
This guy was lighting it up: Gokhan (pronounced GO-kin) Sirin. The 6-foot-9 freshman forward was dropping in long-range shots with no effort. He and freshman Shamarr Bowden were by far the best shooters in the workout session.
These guys were posting it up: Freshman 6-9 forward Chris Braswell and junior transfer Shamari Spears, a 6-6 forward, showed some excellent moves around the basket. Spears sat out last year after transferring from Boston College but practiced with the team. Braswell only arrived on campus in August. Coach Bobby Lutz reminded his guards a few times to "look inside" because there were many options down low.
You're going to see some shot blocking from these guys: Phil Jones, a 6-10 center, and freshman forward K.J. Sherrill, a 6-7 forward, both proved serious obstacles in the lane. Jones had one particularly strong swat of a shot from Spears in the lane. Sherrill was busy on the defensive end and I didn't get to see much from him offensively.
This guy was backing it up: Sophomore guard Derrio Green looks to be a solid backup for starting point guard DiJuan Harris. He is quick with the ball and also has a nice shot, knocking down a couple 3-pointers on open looks.
This guy is nearly back to full strength: Junior Charles Dewhurst, who underwent knee surgery last season, is wearing a brace but is nearly ready to fully participate in practice. Thursday, Dewhurst did the warmups with the team but was the only player not to participate in the 5-on-5 drills.
This game is hard to play: The workout concluded with a game Lutz picked up from the Alabama coaching staff. It's a 5-on-5 drill and the only way for your team to score is to make a defensive stop, take a charge or collect an offensive rebound. However, the only way to get to play on defense is for your team to score. So a offense is necessary to get to play defense and it's on defense where you score most of your points. Clever way to be able to reward defense in a game.
Next up: Lutz and women's coach Karen Aston - as well as cheerleaders, the band and Gold Dusters - will take part in the Uptown Tip-Off from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday at intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte.