Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another hard-to-explain loss by Charlotte 49ers

It's becoming difficult to figure out this Charlotte 49ers team.

The 49ers (12-7, 3-3) have some impressive victories this season. They beat Kansas State and Michigan in Puerto Rico. They're the only team to beat UTEP in Conference USA so far and handed Tulsa one of its two league losses.

But it's confounding and frustrating defeats -- especially Saturday's 81-79 loss at Rice and at UTSA two weeks ago -- that are defining the 49ers as they head into a two-game home stand that includes Florida Atlantic on Thursday and Florida International on Saturday.

Rice had been winless in C-USA and broke a 16-game conference losing streak in beating Charlotte. UTSA has lost three straight since beating Charlotte.

So what's going on? We don't know about Saturday from coach Alan Major, who didn't appear on the postgame radio broadcast at Rice and came out of the locker room after The Observer's deadline, according to a team spokesman (full disclosure: I did not travel to cover the Rice game or Thursday's 20-point loss at Louisiana Tech).

-- Turnovers have cropped up. Charlotte averaged 21 (24 against Louisiana Tech, 18 against Rice) on this road trip. Rice scored 17 points off those 49ers mistakes; La. Tech had 27. Forward Willie Clayton accounted for 14 of them (eight against Rice, six against La. Tech).

-- The 49ers played virtually no 3-point defense against the Owls, with Rice hitting 12-of-24 long-range shots. And Charlotte, C-USA's best 3-point shooting team,went a combined 8-of-29 against Louisiana Tech and Rice. Denzel Ingram, the league leader in 3-point shooting percentage, was 0-for-6 in the two games. Cherry was 1-of-2 against Louisiana Tech and didn't attempt a 3-pointer against Rice.

-- But the biggest problem appears to be how Charlotte opponents are taking control in the second half, which is something that's tougher to quantify. The 49ers were able to rally from late deficits in home victories against Tulsa and North Texas. But they lost first-half leads against Louisiana Tech and Rice and couldn't recover (although a last-second shot by Ben Cherry that would have tied it against Rice missed). Pierria Henry, so stellar in the late going in those victories against Tulsa and North Texas, had fouled out against the Owls.

Major has said that's a product of a young team still not appreciating the value of each possession -- whether it's early in the first half or late in the game. There continue to be lessons to be learned, he has said, about how to play for a full 40 minutes.

The conference season is young. Charlotte can get back on track later this week against the Florida schools at Halton, where they are 7-2 this season.

Major might be correct in saying the 49ers are young, with Cherry the team's only senior. Players like sophomore center Mike Thorne, sophomore guard Shawn Lester and backup freshman forward Marcus Bryan have plenty to learn.

But the 49ers are also a young team with plenty of experience, with juniors  Henry and Terrence Williams and sophomores Clayton and Ingram all well-seasoned enough to have already learned those lessons.


Anonymous said...

Another post-game interview refusal? Well, it's a teaching moment for the coach. We have to give the new coach some more time to gain experience.

Or maybe not. We fired Pratt after 108 career games for being one of the most mediocre coaches in school history. Major has been the head for 112 career games. Major has yet to win more games than Pratt.

Anonymous said...

Major is the major problem. Said it last year, said it about a month ago after the loss to GA Tech that coach does not get the players to play. Always excuses. If we had a team of all seniors, he would be saying that they are too old.

Anonymous said...

We are a young team! I just hope we learn from this loss. The UNCC "fans" are just to negative! The contract extension was not about the past (Lutz) not about the present, but about the future! And we have a bright future with Alan as our head coach! All the haters will look pretty silly next year!
Go Niners!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Coach Majors is educating these young men and teching them to play as a TEAM! This will proove a valuable lesson for his players as March approches! Alan is also learning hisself! He uses the time in the lockerroom instead of talking on a radio nobody is gone hear. If you dont like it go find another team! HATERS!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Fire Rose and Major who too.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ive had season tickets 30 years. Ive never felt so down about our program. There is just no life or hope or excitement. Alan is a nice man but clearly not a leader of men or ready for mass public.

Jeff said...

Anyone, other than Judy Rose, who actually attends the games and supports the Niners that think Major has a grasp on things is delirious !
First excuse was he needed his own players....these are his players....whats left of he needs more time ???
He has some very good players that just don't understand how to play basketball and he doesn't seem to have the ability to teach them. Very sad for someone making alot of money to do just that !

Anonymous said...

The campaign has gone from wait till next year to just wait till 2018. #buswreck

Anonymous said...

Coach Major thus far as proven to be unable to properly manage, motivate players. Since his arrival, team chemistry each and every year is a big problem. Players have academic, discipline and ultimately morale problems, causing many the transfer.

The move to Conference USA was supposed to a breather from the A-10 where the Niners were never successful and often victims of blow out losses. The C-USA, unfortunately, is not going to be the "walk in the park" they were expecting.

Losing to Rice is proof that the team is set for another mediocre season. UNCC let a weaker team end a 16-game conference losing streak, due to poor shot selection, turning the ball over and being beaten down the court.The man came to UNCC with no head coaching experience, yet enlightened administrators made the choice. Hard to understand...and now a five year contract extension. Does anyone really want to purchase season tickets to watch this?

Don't be delusional, this is not a tournament team. Charlotte will be a middle of the pack finisher, again--no better than in the A-10. Truth is better than fiction.

Anonymous said...

I am sick of 'Wait until next year'...we have been waiting for 3 years now. When you beat Michigan and Kansas State and lose to Rice and something called UTSA, it is all about coaching. The talent is there but the kids are not getting up for the 'easy' games.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to welcome back Jim Utter to the ninernation board today. Someone needs to read his final comments from 4 years ago. Prophetic.

I'm going to continue staying away from all of the crap that gets spewed by the few with a stronghold on that board. It just isn't worth it. But I do hope some of the old members return.

And, oh yeah, 'we forgot how to play defense', 'it's the players' fault', and, of course, 'wait until next year'.

Anonymous said...

Alan dont turn the ball over or give up open 3s! Haters need to get a clue! Alan gone to get this team to the tourny! Watch and see! HATERS!!!!

Ben said...

Why are we young? 4-5 of HIS recruits have left the program. We could be mature team if kids stuck around

More will leave this spring.

We signed one terrible high schooler last year, recruited nobody, so 2013 class is terrible. Granted 2 decent transfers came in. See if they survive dumpster and bus fire.

And the record skips and skips - as Alan is still clueless how to interact with NN.

900k is what he is owed. Keeping him will cost more than that.

Anonymous said...

sad state of affairs with this team. its always an excuse, always. we need a coach with an ACC connection , not a big ten connection.

Anonymous said...

To the HATERS that find and post Alans contact on the intrenet SHAME ON YOU!! How would you like it if thay post your bizness info on the webcit????? Leave the man alone!


Anonymous said...

Cut and paste the headline David. You will be using it again. Often.