College Sports

‘That’s not us:’ How the Charlotte 49ers struggle for identity on the court

The Charlotte 49ers and guard Jon Davis (3) lost four of five games in a recent 10-day stretch.
The Charlotte 49ers and guard Jon Davis (3) lost four of five games in a recent 10-day stretch.

Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball coach Ron Sanchez had one thought as he walked off the court last Thursday, his team having just been humiliated 88-43 by Texas-San Antonio.

“That’s not us,” Sanchez said to himself. “That’s not who’ve we’ve been thus far.”

Sanchez went on to convey that message in the locker room, and the 49ers bounced back - to a degree - two nights later, in a 57-53 loss at Texas-El Paso.

It continues to be that kind of season for the young 49ers (5-15, 2-7 Conference USA), who play home games this week against Rice (8-13, 3-5) on Thursday and North Texas (18-3, 6-2) Saturday.

“The one thing that I was extremely proud of is the response we had from (the UTSA) game,” Sanchez said. “We learned how to bounce back. Not many teams can do that, especially on the road and it being the fifth game in a 10-day stretch. They could have said they have nothing left in the tank and they didn’t. That says a lot about this team and who they want to be.”

The 49ers went 1-4 during that stretch of games referred to by Sanchez. Aside from the UTSA game, the 49ers lost by three points against Southern Mississippi, beat Louisiana Tech by 15, lost by six against Old Dominion and lost by three against UTEP.

“People might see that we’re losing by one or two possessions,” Sanchez said. “But (earlier) there might be a missed block out, or a missed layup at the other side of the rim, or a turnover that leads to a layup on the other side.

“We have got to learn that every possession matters and the guys are understanding that better. They have to truly understand that you have to block out on every possession, to make two-handed passes and be sure-handed with the basketball. Those are not obvious details.”

49ers notes

▪ Charlotte senior point guard Jon Davis gave up his spot as the leading scorer in C-USA to UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson when Jackson torched the 49ers for 28 points (Davis was held to 12 by the Roadrunners). Jackson averages 21.4 points; Davis 21.0. Davis is also among the league leaders in free-throw percentage (second, 87.3); assists (eighth, 3.6 per game); 3-pointers made (11th, 2.2 per game); and minutes played (second, 37.3 per game).

▪ The 49ers continue to lead C-USA in free-throw percentage (72.9), though they made just 7-of-13 in the second half against UTEP, when the game was in the balance.

▪ The 49ers’ alumni game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. in Halton Arena. Among those expected to play are Eddie Basden, Robert Earl Blue, Curtis Withers and Kevin King.

▪ The 49ers women’s team hits the road for games Thursday against Rice and Saturday against North Texas. Charlotte (12-8, 4-4) continues to be unbeaten at home in league play and winless on the road. Key for Charlotte against Rice will be stopping 5-foot-9 guard Erica Ogwumike, who averages 15.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals.