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Archive for November 4th, 2006

It is here. Charlotte 49ers Men’s Basketball vs the University of Guelph (from Canada). I’m quite excited… since Charlotte dosen’t have football, the sports season really dosen’t kicked off until basketball starts, and now its here. Here is dead-on preview of the team from Basketball Boards.net

A-10 PREVIEW – 3rd PLACE



CHARLOTTE 49ERS

Last year: 19-13 (11-5) 2nd place; NIT, 2nd Rd.

INSTITUTION
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Location: Charlotte, NC
Founded: 1946
Enrollment: 21,500
Affiliation: Public university

ARENA
Halton Arena
Seats: 9,105
Average attendance: 6,641

COACH
Bobby Lutz 9th year (18th overall)
Record at Charlotte: 154-96 (335-187 overall)

ROSTER
00 Antwon Coleman Sr. PF 6-7 275 Great Falls, SC/Wabash Valley JC
1 E.J. Drayton Sr. F 6-8 225 Charlotte, NC/Colby CC
2 Courtney Williams Sr. F 6-9 235 Detroit/Schoolcraft JC
5 David Booker Fr. WF 6-7 225 Moss Point, MS
10 Jerrell Lewis So. G 6-0 197 Brooklyn, NY/New Hampton Prep
11 Ian Andersen Fr. G 6-4 180 Portland, OR
*12 Leemire Goldwire Jr. G 5-11 190 Palm Beach Gardens, FL
*15 De’Angelo Alexander Sr. G 6-5 225 Midwest City, OK/Oklahoma University
24 Carlos Williams Jr. PG 6-1 190 Louisville, KY/Wabash Valley JC
31 Charles Dewhurst Fr. G/F 6-5 185 Charlotte, NC
35 Sean Phaler Jr. F 6-9 200 Anaheim Hills, CA/Fullerton JC
40 Jerell Jamison Sr. F 6-5 206 Cayce, SC/Wabash Valley JC
?? Phil Jones Fr. C 6-10 255 Brooklyn, NY/Laurinburg (NC) Prep

*Returning starters

OVERVIEW

The first question that comes to mind about the Charlotte 49ers is,
what will they do without Curtis Withers? After all, the A-10 First
Team selection averaged 16 points a game and led the league in
rebounding.

The more relevant question is: Why did the Niners underachieve last
year with Withers anchoring the middle? The truth is elusive, but a few
things are certain. The team never developed any true consistency or
identity in Withers’ senior season.

His departure, then, does not necessarily foretell another step back
for the Charlotte program, which reached the NCAA Tournament two years
ago. He was the only senior of note to move on and the team returns
plenty of talented veterans and newcomers.

The challenge for coach Bobby Lutz is to anoint a new point guard, find
someone to rebound and develop a third major scoring option. Better
teamwork at both ends of the floor is also a must.

The Niners do return two terrific 3-point shooters in Leewire Goldwire
and De’Angelo Alexander, arguably the most lethal perimeter duo in the
league. What Charlotte also needs is a few players who can roust up
old-fashioned, 2-point baskets and draw defenders inside.

Aside from finding answers down low, someone has to run the team.
Touted juco Carlos Williams will get every opportunity to start.

DEPARTED PLAYERS

Curtis Withers – The Charlotte native entered last season as an
All-American candidate, and while Withers put up fine numbers (16.1
ppg, 11.3 rpg, 45% FG), he did not fulfill the high expectations. He
was underutilized in the post and didn’t always assert himself. When he
got the ball, Withers didn’t always finish the play or hit his free
throws (58%).

Withers was still a player to be feared. He was a beast on the boards,
drew lots of defensive attention and could be counted on to score in
double digits every game. He was named to the First Team and was on the
shortlist for A-10 player of the year.

Mitch Baldwin – The jet-quick point guard wore out his welcome by year
end. Though a solid defender, Baldwin was not an offensive threat (4.5
ppg, 32% FG) and rarely was tightly guarded. What’s worse, he lacked
creativity as a playmaker despite averaging 4.4 assists a game. He was
mostly a game manager on a team that needed a guiding light.

Marcus Bennett – Transfer provided a boost (8.7 ppg, 38% 3PG)) off the
bench in his one and only season, highlighted by a 29-point outburst
vs. Fordham. An additional year of eligibility would have been quite
welcome to the Niner Nation.

Chris Nance — Rugged bigman didn’t score much (4.2 ppg), but he played
solid interior defense, hit the boards (4.7 rpg) and didn’t make many
mistakes. The Niners could use more production from that position this
year, however.

RETURNING PLAYERS

De’Angelo Alexander – The 6-5 transfer from Oklahoma, who finished
third in the A-10 in scoring (17 ppg), is a classic shoot-you-in or
shoot-you-out type of player. When he’s hot, Alexander piles up the
points. He scored at least 20 points in 12 games and topped the
30-point mark three times. When he’s not, the Niners offense can get
out of whack; Alexander often takes shots early in the clock before
exploring other options. Fortunately for the Niners, Alexander was hot
more often than not, especially in league play. He shot 38.6% behind
the arc in nonconference games, but connected on nearly 46% of his
treys in A-10 and postseason games. More than half his baskets were
3-pointers.

If he exercised a bit more care in his shot selection, Alexander could
be a dynamite player every game. He’s a born scorer whose deep range
stretches defenses and leave space for penetration or lobs inside to
Charlotte’s bigmen. Alexander is also a good rebounder (6.1 rpg) and
passer (59 assists), though he could be more generous in sharing the
ball. And he too often settles for long jumpers when he’s got a clear
path to the rim. Strong and athletic, Alexander is quite capable of
taking the ball to the basket, but strangely, he actually shot worse on
2-pointers (38%) than he did on 3-pointers (43%).

Alexander, a preseason First Team selection, has vowed to change his
game in his final year. During the offseason he worked on his midrange
jumper and lost weight to improve his quickness. “You’re going to see a
more complete player out of me this year,” Alexander told the
Associated Press.

With Withers gone, the Charlotte offense will shift further to the
perimeter and Alexander will lead the attack. The burden falls upon him
to get teammates more involved with his passing or dribble penetration.
Charlotte might have the potential to challenge for the league title if
Alexander shows off his full range of skills. “I think this is my team
and as I lead them they’re going to follow me,” Alexander said. “This
is my last year and I want to make the (NCAA) tournament. I want to
leave on a positive.”

Leemire Goldwire – A sort of backcourt replica of Alexander, Goldwire
(13.4 ppg) fired up even more 3-point shots but only hit them at a
34.6% rate. He got off to a poor start in his first six games as a
starter, missing 29 of 37 three’s, including all 10 attempts in a loss
at home to Mississippi State. Once he caught fire, though, Goldwire
smoldered for the rest of the season (38% 3PG in the last 26 games). At
times he burned opposing defenses with a barrage of treys – six vs.
Davidson and five vs. Temple — or he used his quickness and sturdy
5-11 frame to blaze a trail to the rim. Goldwire came through
repeatedly in the clutch and usually hit his free throws (78%) when a
game was at stake.

Goldwire also helps in other ways. He’s a good penetrator who dished
out a surprising number of assists (87) while keeping turnovers down
(56). He also stole the ball 58 times (third among returning A-10
players) and loves to hawk the passing lanes. Goldwire could be as good
as any guard in the league if he improves his accuracy and produces
consistently at both ends of the floor. He has no fear and plays with
tremendous intensity.

Antwon Coleman – The 6-7 behemoth is the team’s most skilled low-post
scorer, but he won’t get much chance to shoot unless he learns to
control himself. Coleman was called for 76 fouls and fouled out of two
games in a backup role. Sometimes it appeared as if the referees put
their whistles in their mouths the moment he entered the game. Part of
the problem is that Coleman is just so darn big. When he throws his
275-pound frame around, bodies go flying. Even if he’s not the
instigator, the blame falls on him. Unfair or not, Coleman (3.6 ppg,
3.4 rpg) has to tread more gingerly on offense and move his feet better
on defense if he wants to remain on the court. The Niners couldn’t put
him in late in the game for fear that he would send an opponent to the
foul line.

Absent foul trouble, Coleman has the size and skills to be a force in
the A-10 and give the Niners what they need. He’s got big mitts and a
pillow-soft touch, even if the ball didn’t drop for him (43% FG) as
much as it should. Sometimes Coleman rushed his shots against taller
players and he never played enough minutes to develop a rhythm. A year
of seasoning at the Division 1 level and some off-season work on his
body should help Coleman’s cause, though poor free-throw shooting
(17-34) could put him back on the bench in late-game situations even if
he has fouls to spare.

E.J. Drayton – Former junior-college star ended his season last year
after six games because of tendonitis. Two years ago, he averaged 8.7
points and 4.6 boards and shot 78% from the line. A good athlete, the
6-8 Drayton fills the lanes on the break and likes to slash to the
basket. Before last year’s aborted campaign, he packed on some muscle
to improve his scoring chances down low, but he’s also a decent outside
shooter (35% 3PG). Drayton might even be the team’s best frontcourt
defender. As a senior, he’ll finally get his chance to shine. He may
not be all-conference material, but Drayton is talented and
experienced. “He would have made a big difference in last year’s team
and is important for the upcoming season,” Lutz told Collegehoops.net

Courtney Williams – Entering his final season, the 6-9 Williams (1.7
ppg, 2.1 rpg) has worked hard to improve his strength and conditioning
in a bid for more minutes. He’s not a major scoring threat (41% FG),
but he is more capable offensively than former starting center Chris
Nance. He has a nice touch and can hit faceup jumpers out to 15 feet.

His best asset is rebounding. Williams has good hands and a knack for
knowing where missed balls are going to land. The added muscle should
help him haul in more rebounds that he would have lost last season to
stronger opponents. Williams is also a capable defender who covers a
lot of ground with his long arms and big stride.

Jerell Jamison – Athletic wing forward plays hard and excels on the
break, but Jamison lacks offensive skills (0.8 ppg, 5-14 FG) and played
sparingly (145 minutes total). The Niners simply needed more firepower
in the lineup. As a senior, the former juco star will get a chance to
join the rotation. He was recruited as a defensive stopper and could
give Charlotte a boost of energy off the bench.

Jerrell Lewis – Entering his third season, the 6-0 Lewis is mostly a
blank slate. The redshirt sophomore, who put up big numbers in prep
school, missed his freshman season because of an ankle injury and
barely played last year. In brief minutes, Lewis showed good quickness
and handled the ball fairly well. With all the players ahead of him,
Lewis is unlikely to see much action unless someone gets hurt or Carlos
Williams struggles.

NEWCOMERS

Carlos Williams – Kentucky native was considered one of the top juco
point guards and is viewed as the heir apparent to Mitch Baldwin. He’s
a good shooter and has quick hands on defense, but Lutz says Williams
is also the best passer he’s signed in years. He pushes the ball
quickly up the floor and looks to penetrate, though he turned the ball
over more than Lutz would probably like at the JC level.

“Carlos has one-on-one abilities that no one else on the team has, but
he’s got to learn when to do that and when to run our team,” Lutz says.
How fast he adjusts could determine if Charlotte makes another run at
the league title.

Sean Phaler – Much traveled Californian was viewed as a top talent out
of high school before suffering a serious auto accident. After signing
with UCLA, he was released from his commitment when coach Ben Howland
was hired and he went to New Mexico. He made a pit stop in junior
college before ending up at Charlotte. The 6-9 Phaler is known for a
terrific outside touch and he gives the Niners some height, but his
slender 200-pound frame isn’t suited for banging down in the trenches.
He could create mismatches instead by pulling bigger defenders away
from the basket.

David Booker – Relatively unhyped recruit, voted Mississippi’s Gatorade
Player of the Year, signed in April. At 6-7 230 pounds, Booker can
rebound and score inside but he’s also a good outside shooter. In one
high school playoff game, he topped 50 points and averaged 37 points in
his final prep season. “He is a very good shooter and exceptional
passer for a big forward in addition to his abilities around the
basket,” Lutz said. A tweener at the forward spot, Booker either has to
get stronger if he intends to play mostly down low or shed some weight
if he wants to play on the wing.

Phil Jones – Late August signing of the 6-10 bigman from Brooklyn was
considered a bit of a coup for Charlotte. Jones, a late bloomer, was
rated as one of the better centers in the country and evidently got
serious looks from Indiana, St. John’s and even Kentucky. “He is a true
low-post scorer with excellent hands,” Lutz said. Like many young post
players, his defense is said to be well ahead of his offense and he’ll
need time to develop. Jones was awaiting NCAA clearinghouse approval of
his status in early November.

Charles Dewhurst – Slender 6-5 wingman, who wanted to stay near his
Charlotte home, might be the team’s best athlete. He put up big numbers
in high school and is reputed to be a good shooter. He probably need to
get a lot stronger to help Charlotte, however, and is unlikely to see
much time his first year.

Ian Andersen – Unheralded 6-4 combo guard from Oregon has excellent
range on his shot and he’s a scrappy defender. Reports from practice
suggest he could be the freshman most ready to contribute.

SCOUTING REPORT

Charlotte is still plenty experienced despite the graduation of
Withers, Nance and Baldwin. The Niners have five seniors and one junior
who saw action last season, and almost all of them are expected to play
key roles.

Long-range shooting is not a problem. Alexander is the best 3-point
shooter in the league and Goldwire isn’t far behind. Drayton can also
hit some three’s and newcomers Phaler, Andersen and Carlos Williams are
supposed to be good shooters.

Rebounding should not be a big problem, either. No one on Charlotte is
going to make anyone forget Withers (11.3 rpg), but the Niners still
have one of the stronger frontcourts in the league. What’s more,
Alexander is a fine rebounder (6.1 rpg) on the wing.

Low-post scoring is another story. Defenses will concentrate on
Alexander and Goldwire until the bigmen prove they can hurt foes down
low. It wouldn’t hurt if the trigger-happy wingmen tossed the ball into
the paint once in awhile. That wasn’t always their first inclination
last year. Even if Drayton or Coleman are not stars in the making, they
are skilled and competent A-10 bigmen who can score a bit inside.

Another way to free up space for the shooters is to accelerate the pace
and use dribble penetration. When former point guard Mitch Baldwin was
in charge, the Niners sometimes seemed like they were playing a man
short on offense.

That’s where Carlos Williams comes in. He could supply a little more
scoring and creativity from that position. He likes to attack the
basket and is a much better penetrator than Baldwin.

If he adapts quickly to chief ball-handling duties, Charlotte will get
plenty of open shots. Goldwire and Alexander are also capable of
putting the ball on the floor and creating for teammates, especially
when defenders bite on pumpfakes.

PREDICTION

In all likelihood, the Niners will finish near the top in scoring
again, but can they score efficiently? Charlotte outscored opponents
last year but took an additional four attempts per game to accomplish
that feat. The Niners finished second to last in shooting accuracy at
just 40%, barely above John Chaney’s offensively challenged Temple Owls.

The more critical question is whether they’ll do a better job of
stopping other teams. Charlotte finished 11th in field goal percentage
defense and 10th at defending the 3-pointer. The team doesn’t have any
great defenders like an Eddie Basden, so it will have to be a
collective effort.

If Charlotte makes progress in both areas, the Niners should contend
for the A-10 title. The team has plenty of size, talent and experience,
and chemistry might actually improve. The offense is likely to be built
around Alexander and Goldmire and the upperclassman have a sufficient
sense of urgency to apply more effort at the defensive end.

“We’re a little better probably than we appear on paper, even though we do have a lot of new guys,” Lutz says.

The 49ers have already proven themselves to be the league’s road
warriors, winning nine games in opposing arenas, the most of any team
except George Washington. Now they have to defend their own turf better
(six losses at Halton Arena).

“We won a lot of road games last season, but we lost a lot of home
games, too,” Lutz says. “We are not going to let that happen again.”

Even if that’s the case, so-so defense, the lack of a third major
scoring option and a suspect inside attack is likely to keep Charlotte
a rung or two below the top of the A-10 ladder.

Record: 20-9 (11-5), 3rd place

ADDENDUM

Additional comments:

I might as well be direct. I think this Charlotte team will be better
than last year’s squad. The prior Niners team had awful chemistry.
Withers simply did not have the personality to make the team his.
Alexander and Goldwire do. Those three seemed to duel at times – the
perimeter players vs. Withers – for control of the team. It won’t be
the case this year. Alexander and Goldwire will clearly take the lead
and the offense will center around them.

The addition of Carlos Williams should also help a great deal. He’s the
antithesis from Baldwin based on what I hear. Shoots pretty well and
likes to drive and dish. I expect the offense to run more motion and do
lots of penetration and kickouts. When the low-post game is
questionable, this is what good teams do. (See: St. Joe’s, Elite 8).
Space the floor, drive, kick and shoot. The Niners couldn’t do that
with Baldwin. They can with Williams.

With Alexander and Goldwire, Lutz is almost starting with 40 points.
And unlike last year, when both players struggled early to find a role
in the offense, they will be ready to go right from the tipoff. Scoring
won’t be a problem.

Nor will rebounding, at least not in the A-10. Few teams are bigger
than Charlotte. I also expect all the experience to help on the road.
The top 3-4 teams always know how to win on the road.

Like last year, though, defense is the big question mark. If the Niners simply play half-decent defense, they will win 20 games.

On the noncon sked, plenty of winnable games and I see Charlotte going
9-4. Indeed, I think the Niners can beat anyone on their sked. They’ll
get a scalp from either Syracuse or Indiana, if I had to bet, even if I
marked both games as losses. Just being conservative again. I also like
the Niners to beat Hoftstra. The Pride have nothing inside. Charlotte
should control the boards and get a lot of second-chance points. I
figure they will outscore Hofstra in the end.

W – HOFSTRA
W – NORTH TEXAS
L – At Syacuse
W – GEORGIA STATE
L – At Mississippi State
L – At Indiana
W – UNC ASHVILLE
W – At Davidson
W – Houston (Rainbow Classic in Honolulu)
L – Creighton (if they play the Bluejays next in the Rainbow Classic)
W – Rainbow Classic (foe would be Wyoming, Nebraska, Hawaii or San Francisco)
W – WOFFORD
W – LOUISIANA-LAFEYETTE

It’s go time… the season starts. Jason Feltis and I are probably going to start a 49ers Basketball Podcast, details coming soon.

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After failing to get out to the movies for several weeks after seeing Science of Sleep, it was finally my time to make a triumphant return to the theatres. And what better weekend to return than the opening weekend of Borat? The 7:30 showing fit into not only my schedule, but also Marcus’ (who just had a beastly accounting exam) and Paul;s. We ventured to Northlake Mall’s AMC instead of the closer Concord Mills AMC…. what a good decision that was. It was 10 minutes extra drive (20 mins total) but the theatre was HUGE!!! I have never seen a screen that big. It was like the size of 2 and a half of the Concord Mills theatre screens. The movie of the night was Borat.

It’s hard to describe a movie like Borat, except using these phrases… obscene, offensive, anti-semitic, hilarious. Borat was the most offensive movie I have ever witnessed. If you walked into that movie you had to find something in there midly offensive. It was hilarious though, very hilarious. Thank God it was only 84 mins because any longer and it would have been too much. The best scene in my opinion is when he goes to a Pentecostal revival meeting and asks if anyone can help him get to California… they reply Jesus, and he is brought to the center of the group and is attacked by the entire church while the followers chant and lay hands on him. Borat is one of those movies that you just have to see… if you are 17 or older. It deserves its R rating every bit, even if just for the incredibly gross battle between naked Borat and his naked manager… let me put it this way, Borat has a censor bar over his privates but his manager dosen’t need one because of the rolls of fat.

Borat gives his own mockumentary two thumbs up, I have to agree, I couldn’t stop laughing all night actually…. people even came to the theatre dressed as Borat

I couldn’t stop laughing until… I saw the Prestige that is. Because Borat was only 84 mins and my other roomate and some other people were going to see the Prestige @ 10:30 over at the Concord Mills theatre…. I thought, “Why Not!”. So my triumphant return to film became even more triumphanter as I lined up to plunk down yet another $7.50 to see The Prestige. I’m glad I decided to see The Prestige because it might have been the only thing that could have helped me forget Borat, it was that good. (There was a massive line at Concord Mills to see Borat, I’m glad we went to Northlake earlier)

This is one of the best movies of the year, if not the best. The acting is on par, the story is unbelieveably amazing, and the directing is outstanding. Director Christopher Nolan won me over in a big way with Batman Begins but now he returns to the screen with Christian Bale once again to make another amazing movie. Everything, even from the opening scene, ties together at the end to produce quite a chilling story. The story is about two magicians that get in an ever escalting duel that eventually becomes so huge, the stakes are bigger than both of them. I don’t want to give anything away because it would ruin the movie, but chills shot through me when Michael Caine tells the truth about drowning… I’ll leave it at that. The biggest suprise was seeing David Bowie as Niklas Tesla… hah! The David Bowie… aka Ziggy Stardust.

This movie was more amazing than you can possibly imagine and I can’t stop thinking about it

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