2008-09 Charlotte Basketball Preview: #62
Overall Rank: #62
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic 10
2007-08: 20-14, 9-7, 4th
2007-08 postseason: NIT
Charlotte returns four starters, but the one player they do not get back is Leemire Goldwire. Whether or not the 49ers can find a consistent replacement for the team’s leading scorer could be the difference between a good year and a great year. Ian Andersen can replace some of the three-point shooting, but can he do more than shoot the long ball? Michael Gerrity is a great passer and playmaker and showed his potential to be a great scorer during his two years playing at Pepperdine. Charles Dewhurst has the most potential after averaging 4.4 points per game as a freshman by slashing to the basket, yet he is not a great shooter at this point in his career. The three of them should be able to help fill the void, but replacing Goldwire will be an issue that lingers for quite some time.
And that is because Goldwire averaged 18.6 points per game during his senior campaign. Goldwire’s specialty was knocking down three-pointers, which he hit 3.8 of per contest, yet he could also do some damage around the basket. Whoever steps into the starting spot will have to take care of some of the shooting lost by Goldwire, but it will take a team effort to replace all that scoring. Forward Sean Phaler saw limited action for the 49ers last season and is not returning this year.
Coach Bobby Lutz certainly addressed the issue of replacing Goldwire with his recruiting class. All three newcomers are shooting guards and will be given the opportunity to compete for quality minutes. Rashad Coleman is a good athlete who can also hit the outside shot. A junior, Coleman is also an experienced option who should be ready to step in and immediately make his presence known. Shamarr Bowden might need a little more time to adjust to the level of play, but he certainly has the talent to contribute as a freshman. Javarris Barnett redshirted last season and will add his name to the long list of players looking to help replace Goldwire’s numbers.
Who to Watch:
While the Goldwire situation sorts itself out, Charlotte will depend on its frontcourt to carry the load. And relying on this talented and versatile group is not a bad thing whatsoever. An’Juan Wilderness had a superb freshman campaign, tallying 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds. The pushed back three-point line will probably keep the 6-6 forward inside the arc, but he can hit the mid-range jumper effectively. It is Lamont Mack who will stretch out the defense with his shooting ability. The 6-7 senior hit nearly two long balls per contest, but he does more than just shoot the ball. Mack can score around the basket as well and is a solid rebounder. Charlie Coley hangs out in the paint more and led the team with 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game. That trio, while lacking size, is a nice mix of players who should emerge as even more dominating this time around. When the team needs size, 6-10 Phil Jones is an experienced option off of the bench.
All four returning starters were first year players with the program last season. That means they needed time to grow and should be more comfortable and able this time around. One of those starters is junior DiJuan Harris. The point guard led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio, but his starting job is not safe now that Gerrity will be on the team for a full season. Either way, the 49ers have two extremely capable ballhandlers who will find all the scoring threats. The only question that remains is whether one of the point guards can get a new shooting guard involved.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
DiJuan Harris, Junior, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Ian Andersen, Junior, Guard, 5.8 points per game
An’Juan Wilderness, Sophomore, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Lamont Mack, Senior, Forward, 12.8 points per game
Charlie Coley, Senior, Forward, 8.7 points per game