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January 3, 2012

Q&A with Charlotte

We did a recent Q&A with Josh Carpenter of the Charlotte Rivals site, here are the questions and answers:

How do the fans feel about the coaching change and is it working?

Honestly, the fans in Charlotte are split on this matter. In recruiting, it definitely seems to be taking shape as Alan Major had a decent first class and has already locked up a trio of three-star recruits for 2012. The results on the floor have yet to be seen. Major inherited a 19-win team a year ago, but with injuries and suspensions, only won 10 games. 7-5 through 12 games isn't a disappointing start to this season, but after three straight losses, they're looking to rebound. All that said, I think it's still a little to early to judge this staff.

It seems the OOC schedule has been beefed up this season, has this been a choice of the new staff or just a one time thing?

I don't think it's a one-time thing at all. Charlotte feasted on a pretty easy OOC the first month and a half en route to a 7-2 start. They could have been 8-1 sans a last-second loss to East Tennessee State at home. After knocking off a talented Davidson team by 23, I think fans were pretty excited about this team's chance to compete for a top half spot in the final conference standings. They've come back to earth in their recent three-game slide. Sure, Miami, Arkansas and Memphis are tough outs for any team, but all three were missing its best or second best player each game. Getting into conference play, we'll really see who the Niners are.

What system changes, both offense and defense, should the Spider fans see this year?

There shouldn't be any changes. From the moment he arrived in Charlotte, Alan Major has preached a man-to-man defensive game and half-court, inside-out attack on the offensive end. Defensively, they've played pretty well, holding opponents under 40 percent from the field on average. To be blunt, they've been horrific on offense these last three games, averaging just 30 percent from the field (16-65 against Memphis on New Year's Eve). Charlotte's best post player, 6-9 forward Chris Braswell, struggles against bigger, more athletic posts, so the 49ers have resorted to more 3-pointers than Major would like (22 attempts per game).

Who is the most improved player for Charlotte this season?

Charlotte's most improved guy is actually a freshman that they didn't have a year ago, Pierria Henry. The 6-3 point guard started from day one for Major and hasn't disappointed. He doesn't bring a lot to the table in terms of scoring (7.25 ppg), but is a ferocious on-ball defender and has caused a lot of havoc in opponents' backcourts over the first 12 contests. He ranks sixth nationally with 2.75 steals per game.

In a tight game, who is likely to take over the game for Charlotte, or take that last shot?

Oddly enough, it's someone that comes off the bench that would likely be Charlotte's best option down the stretch. Five-foot-10-inch combo guard Jamar Briscoe started a year ago for Major but lost his starting job to Henry. Briscoe, second in the nation in freshman scoring three years ago at North Carolina Central, has shown the ability to go off at times and has helped Charlotte to a few wins this season with big second halves.



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