Photo credit: Charlotte Basketball Twitter
It might have been a shock to some fans that the 49ers were able to get the job done against a North Texas team that had just beaten them 67-43 two weeks prior. So, it leads me to the question at hand; Are the Niners turning the corner, yet again?
After a slow January and start to February, the 49ers have won three straight, including one on the road against Louisiana Tech. After sitting at 11-3 at one point earlier in the season, it is to no surprise that many of the 49er faithful aren’t the most pleased with the past two months performances. What was once their best start in over a decade, and some thinking that they might have been turning the corner back in December, turned into “just another mediocre season,” by many’s point of view. But, with these three recent wins, would it be a stretch to think they could be doing it again?
With just three games left in the regular season before the C-USA tournament, clearly every game is crucial, but it is even more important to gain momentum going into a conference tournament that is a must win if the 49ers wish to make the NCAA tournament. “I am really happy with the win,” Ron Sanchez said after the North Texas game. “I give a lot of credit to my staff as well as my players and tremendous credit for their execution. My staff did a really good job of putting a good game plan together.”
In his mid-week press conference, Ron discussed some thought changes that he and the staff were going to make for their second bout with North Texas with them still being rather fresh in their memory. “We are going to prepare better so that we can take advantage of the things that are there for us,” Sanchez said. “Having played them recently on short prep really caused a challenge, but it was really the way that we started.”
Their most recent game against the Mean Green, the 49ers got off to a much better start. They got out to a 13-5 lead about midway through the first half. “How you start a game is huge,” Sanchez mentioned.
Clearly, the message has been well received by the team the past few games. Charlotte led 8-0 early in the game against LA Tech, and by 18 at halftime. Yes, the pessimist will say things like, “we almost blew an 18 point lead.” But… they didn’t, period. In their game prior to that against Western Kentucky, the 49ers got off to a 7-2 start, so the sense of urgency has totally changed. They are getting off to better starts as of late, now it is all about keeping their foot on the neck of the opponent as the old cliche goes.
Their upcoming game against Rice is a big one. Not only is it alumni day, but if the 49ers are able to win, it will likely secure a spot in the top 5 in C-USA which would get the 49ers a bye in the tournament, which is always huge not having to play on the first day.
There are 3 games left, and then it’s win or go home for the 49ers. Their play of late seems to be trending up. These last three will be an even better indicator of if the 49ers have “turned the corner – yet again.”