When interim men’s basketball coach Houston Fancher glanced down at the stat sheet during halftime of the Charlotte 49ers’ Conference USA opener last week against Old Dominion, it wasn’t the lopsided score that most startled him.
While the 49ers trailed the Monarchs 42-16, what really struck Fancher was Charlotte’s assist-turnover ratio of zero-to-14.
That’s right – the 49ers didn’t have an assist and turned the ball over 14 times.
“I’d never seen a stat line like that,” Fancher said. “That blew me away. You can’t beat anybody that way.”
Things didn’t get much better in the second half – the 49ers finished with 22 turnovers and just six assists in what would become an 89-58 loss against the Monarchs.
But it was another indication of how steep of a hill Fancher and his team are climbing as they try to turn around their season.
The work continues as the 49ers (4-8, 0-1 C-USA) stay on the road this week – they play at North Texas (9-6, 2-0) Thursday and Rice (3-12, 0-2) Saturday.
“We weren’t tough enough to go on the road and play a team like ODU yet,” said Fancher, who replaced the fired Mark Price in December after the 49ers got off to a 3-6 start. “We were anxious. But it’s almost been like the preseason again. We’re starting over again and reestablishing a lot of things.”
Fancher said he is revamping Charlotte’s offense away from one that relies on ball screens to one that is involves more ball movement. Defensively, the 49ers will play more zone and press more often, Fancher said.
Whatever happens offensively, it will come through junior point guard Jon Davis, who hasn’t played up to his potential yet this season. Davis, a preseason all-C-USA pick, has been inconsistent at best, scoring 10 points and committing seven turnovers (and handing out five assists) against ODU. For the season, Davis averages 12.8 points on 33.8 percent shooting (23.3 percent from 3-point range). He has a 1.3 assist to turnover ratio.
“I’m not worried about JD,” Fancher said. “I think he’ll play his way out of it. The turnovers are coming from him wanting to do too much to help us win. He wants the assist instead of making just the next pass. He wants to get to the rim instead of kicking it out.”
When athletics director Judy Rose fired Price after nine games, she said it wasn’t too late to turn the season around. The 49ers are 1-2 under Fancher, splitting games at East Carolina and South Florida before the ODU debacle.
Fancher said he didn’t think he could put a timetable on when – or if – the 49ers set things right.
“I don’t know I can sit here and tell you that without it being a guess,” he said. “But I’d like to see us continue to make strides this month. At the end of January we’ll know which direction we’re going in.
“But we’re going to find out right quick if we’re going to be a homecoming game for everybody or if we can compete.”
David Scott: @davidscott14