#95 Charlotte: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #95
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic 10 Conference
2009-10: 19-12, 9-7
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Alan Major (First year at Charlotte, 0-0 overall)
Since Charlotte joined the Atlantic 10 in 2005, the 49ers have just made two postseason appearances and neither were the NCAA Tournament. It was time for a change and Charlotte went after Coach Alan Major who has served under Thad Matta at Xavier and Ohio State. Coach Major inherits a pretty experienced squad, but also a group that has been quite inconsistent over the last few seasons.
Key Losses: G Ian Andersen, G RaShad Coleman, G Charles Dewhurst, G DiJuan Harris
Two years ago Jamar Briscoe averaged 17.8 points per game as a freshman at North Carolina Central. That was good enough to rank second among freshman behind Seth Curry. Briscoe shot a lot when he played for the Eagles and pretty much took that team over. He is a capable outside shooter, but he does need to learn Charlotte has more talent than NCCU and that hoisting up shots at will is not beneficial to the team. Keeping his game under control and cutting back on the turnovers will be another issue, but otherwise the 49ers have found themselves a very good shooter who could be the team’s leading scorer right from the start. The only other newcomer is incoming freshman Luka Voncina. The 6-4 Slovenian may be forced into action in a relatively slim backcourt.
The loss of point guard DiJuan Harris is a huge blow. Junior Derrio Green will have to take over a majority of the ballhandling. Last season Green was free to roam and look for open shots and he did do a pretty good job in the scoring column, averaging 13.1 points per game. However, having Green spend more time on the ball may not be a bad thing since he shot way too much from beyond the arc. Now that job belongs to Briscoe and he may be able to connect on more than 31.3 percent of his attempts from long range. There are no other guards listed on the roster that have any semblance of real playing time. However, Gokham Sirin and An’Juan Wilderness can easily be considered guards. Sirin is 6-9, but he is pretty much a shooter off the bench despite his size.
The frontcourt returns leading scorer Shamari Spears, leading rebounder Chris Braswell and leading shot blocker Phil Jones. Spears and Braswell should once again earn the starting jobs. Spears is a superb all-around scorer who has the ability to step outside and consistently hit the mid-range jumper. He is a great athlete who can attack the basket and finish with ease. Braswell is the more traditional back to the basket big man. And at 6-9 and 235 pounds, he is pretty big. More important than his size is his toughness on the glass and Braswell eats up any ball that comes near him. Jones will come in off the bench and play some great defense when the other forwards need a break or run into foul trouble. K.J. Sherrill is coming off of a decent freshman campaign and could play a bigger role on the team if Coach Major wants to keep his big men fresh.
Who to Watch:
Wilderness will not fill up the stat sheet, but he is the glue guy on this team. He will score a little bit when he has to and he can play solid defense and hit the glass. The 6-6 senior has the size and versatility to do whatever the team needs him to do. He missed some time last year with a stress fracture in his foot, but Wilderness should be ready for a strong senior season even if the numbers say otherwise.
This team will really come down to the backcourt. Can Green run the point efficiently? Can Briscoe live up to the hype? Is there enough depth behind them to keep those two stars fresh down the stretch? If so, Charlotte will have a great season. Most likely all of those things will not happen, but this is still a more talented team than they were a year ago and this group should be on the cusp of an NIT berth even in what should be a very tough conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Derrio Green, Junior, Guard, 13.0 ppg
Jamar Briscoe, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
An’Juan Wilderness, Senior, Forward, 5.7 ppg
Shamari Spears, Senior, Forward, 16.0 ppg
Chris Braswell, Sophomore, Forward, 9.5 ppg
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