For Charlotte 49ers senior center Chris Braswell, its all about perspective.
First, his team is winning the 49ers are 18-7 heading into Sundays Atlantic 10 basketball game against Temple at Halton Arena and Braswell said thats made this season enjoyable and fulfilling.
Im soaking all this up, said Braswell, a preseason second-team all-conference pick who will wrap up his career among Charlottes all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding. Weve been up and down the past couple years, so this has been fun. Were working hard to make something happen.
But the 49ers team success has been tempered a bit individually for Braswell, who has been in and out of the starting lineup. Hes averaging 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, substantial drop-offs from his junior season (15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds).
Thats been very tough, said Braswell. But its an adjustment the coaches have asked me to make and Ive made it. Ill come off the bench and give it my all, if it means scoring or playing good defense. Ill do whatever they need.
That attitude hasnt gone unnoticed by 49ers coach Alan Major.
He could have been tapping on the door every day, saying, Whats the deal? Next week? Next game? said Major. But he hasnt done that. Thats a credit to him.
Braswell, who started 83 of 90 games in his first three seasons, didnt necessarily lose his starting spot because of poor play. After spending much of the late summer and fall rehabbing a broken foot, Braswell was suspended for breaking a team rule for the season opener against Charleston Southern, which Charlotte won handily.
Not wanting to tamper with a success, Major continued to use Braswell as the first big man off the bench as the 49ers won 11 of their first 13 games.
Braswell played starters minutes during that stretch (21.1 per game), averaging 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. But he didnt get his starting job back until Jan. 2, when the 49ers beat UNC Asheville in overtime.
Since then, as injuries and the indefinite suspension of leading-scorer DeMario Mayfield have forced Major to juggle the lineup, Braswell has started eight more times. Hes also been back on the bench for three games.
Braswells offensive production has lagged since Atlantic 10 play has started. Hes averaging 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds against league competition.
Double-teamed routinely, Braswell has seemed offensively tentative at times. He often gets the ball 8 to 10 feet from the basket and has to plow through defenders to get in position to shoot. And although Braswell is the owner of a variety of deft low-post moves, hes only making 44.6 percent of his shots (down from 51.1 percent last season).
I think teams are doing a pretty good job of sitting on things he likes to do, said Major. But his numbers might be down simply because of how well rounded weve become and with our depth. Weve got other options.
Forwards Willie Clayton and Darion Clark who have taken much of Braswells starters minutes have had impressive freshmen seasons. Clayton leads the Atlantic 10 in field-goal percentage (59.2) and averages a team-leading 6.9 rebounds; Clark averages 4.8 rebounds and has started 15 games.
Braswell didnt start Charlottes most recent game, a 76-58 loss at Saint Louis. He scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting and had four rebounds. But he also had three assists and two blocked shots.
But when Charlotte played its first game against Temple Sundays opponent on Feb. 6, Braswell started and was his old self offensively, scoring 23 points on 7-off-11 shooting (also making 9 of 10 free throws) and grabbing six rebounds.
But, Braswell said, ultimately the individual numbers dont matter.
If were winning, that means were progressing and moving forward, said Braswell. Thats what Im really looking for.
Temple (18-8, 7-5 Atlantic 10) at Charlotte (18-7, 6-5)
4 p.m., Halton Arena
There is not much separating these teams - from their records to the Owls' 89-88 victory against the 49ers in their first meeting Feb. 6. Temple is coming off an 82-74 victory Thursday against La Salle, in which forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was dominant (23 points, 18 rebounds). Owls guard Khaliff Wyatt leads the Atlantic 10 in scoring (19.7), while 49ers freshman forward Willie Clayton leads the league in field-goal percentage (59.2). Charlotte has lost three of four.
- David Scott