At 1-1 in conference play, Fordham faces a strong test for their first conference game away from the Rose Hill Gym, taking on Charlotte at the Halton Arena. To provide a closer look at the 49ers, we have enlisted Gary Moore of The College Hardwood for an in-depth scouting report, just as he has done for St. John's games against College of Charleston and South Carolina. Without any further ado...
Charlotte 49ers Preview
Hi I am Gary Moore from the College Hardwood. I have had the opportunity to see in person the Charlotte 49ers twice this season. Here is a scouting report on Charlotte as they prepare to take on Fordham this week.
Background on Charlotte
The Charlotte 49ers are 14-2 overall and 2-0 in the Atlantic 10 conference. Their only losses are to Florida State and Miami of Florida. One of their non conference wins was a 78-66 win over Central Michigan, which I was in attendance. Here's my review of the win over the Chippewas.
The 49ers are coming off a 58-50 win at Rhode Island on Saturday. They won their conference home opener over LaSalle 72-65 last Wednesday. The 49ers held the explorers to thirty two percent shooting from the field including a mind numbing four of twenty nine from beyond the arc. You can read my review of their win over the Explorers here.
The Explorers play a three guard lineup. Sophomore guard Pierria Henry is their best all around player. Henry averages nine points, five rebounds, three and half assists and nearly three steals per game. Sophomore Terrance Williams averages over seven points and rebounds per game. Freshman Denzel Ingram averages over six points and over one steal per game. With the exception of Henry, who plays over thirty one minutes per game, the other starters only average less than twenty four minutes per game.
Senior Chris Braswell is Charlotte's leading scorer, averaging twelve points and nearly six rebounds per game. Freshman Willie Clayton averages nine points and nearly eight rebounds per game. Clayton also shoots sixty one percent from the field.
This is where Charlotte shines. They are a very deep team with a ten man rotation. Four of their bench players average fifteen or more minutes per game and tenth man Freshman Ivan Benkovic averages seven minutes per game. Junior DeMario Mayfield is their spark off the bench. The 49ers second leading scorer averages eleven points while shooting fifty one percent from the field. Freshman Darion Clark averages nearly six and a half points and five rebounds per game. Sophomore E. Victor Nickerson and Senior JT Thompson round out the bench rotation and each average over fifteen minutes per game while combining for over nine points per game.
Simply put, Charlotte's strength is their defense. Here's how impressive they are on defense - the 49ers are seventh in the country in effective field goal percentage defense. They are fourteenth in the country in two point field goal percentage defense and are in the top twenty five in three point field goal percentage defense.
Having watched them play twice, I can honestly say that I haven't seen live this season a team play better help defense in the paint than Charlotte. They swarm to the ball and it's very difficult for teams to get a shot off inside on them. Central Michigan and LaSalle found out the hard way. Central Michigan actually shot better from three point range than two point range. With the exception of Ingram, the rest of the Charlotte guards are six foot four or taller. Thus their length also makes it difficult for teams to shoot over them.
The 49ers have a few weaknesses. Braswell can be an enigma and occasionally will camp out around the three point line and shoot fallaway jumpers that are not successful. Charlotte is also a very poor three point shooting team, shooting 27.7 percent from beyond the arc. Finally, the 49ers will struggle from the line as they average only 64.8 from the charity stripe.
The 49ers are a very balanced team as nine players average between four points and twelve points per game with a very deep ten man rotation. They are incredibly swarming defensive team with good length on the perimeter. What makes the 49ers even more impressive is that eight of the ten players in their rotation are underclassmen. Only Braswell and Thompson leave after this season.
Expect the 49ers to concentrate on Chris Gaston and the other Rams' big men with double teams. So for Fordham to beat Charlotte, on offense, you must be able to hit the three pointer. To do so though requires shooting over their tall guards. Branden Frazier and Bryan Smith must have good games on the outside. On defense, Central Michigan was effective against Charlotte by playing a zone, packing it inside and forcing the weak shooting 49ers to shoot from beyond the arc. Tom Pecora likes to play man to man but he may have no choice but to play a zone against Charlotte.
Fordham has a tough task for itself on Wednesday and will find baskets harder to come by than they did against UMass. Expect a relatively low scoring game as Fordham may not break sixty points.