The Charlotte 49ers Basketball team is off to a hot start to the 2021-22 season as they are 3-0 with wins over Monmouth, USC Upstate and Appalachian State to start the year. So, what better way to celebrate than a trip to the Bahamas? The relaxation won’t be for long as they will tip-off against Toledo in the first game of the Baha Mar Championship on Nov. 22 at 12 p.m.
So, by now we are aware of Charlotte’s starting five that Sanchez likes to roll with. These guys are; Jahmir Young, Clyde Trapp, Austin Butler, Jackson Threadgill, and Aly Khalifa. Don’t expect to see a change in the starting lineup anytime soon.
The field at the Baha Mar consists of Charlotte as that is a given, but also a few other talented teams all in search of an early-season championship win. Let’s take a look at some of the other teams in the tournament.
The Rockets come in with a 2-1 record with wins over Valparaiso (who is in the tournament also), Detroit Mercy, and Oakland. The 49ers have had the tougher schedule based on BPI thus far, but the ESPN matchup predictor likes the Rockets in this opening matchup.
When it comes to offense for the Rockets, look no further than Ryan Rollins. The sophomore guard comes in averaging 18.3 ppg as well as four rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Whichever 49er guard, whether it be Jahmir Young or Clyde Trap, is matched up with Rollins, they will need to be on their A-game to stop his multi-facet game from taking over. He is quick and utilizes ball screens well to get open looks.
Aly Khalifa will be busy also. He will likely draw the matchup of JT Shumate. The 6’7 forward is a monster on the glass for his size grabbing over eight boards a game. He shoots an efficient 57.7% and can challenge shots as well. Khalifa will need to utilize his height advantage and get shots up over Shumate for the 49ers to have a successful day in the paint.
Keys to downing the Rockets
— Force them to play at the 49ers pace
— Five men to the glass on every board to limit second-chance points
— Utilize high-low ball screens with Khalifa or Jared Garcia
The Dragons also come in with a 2-1 record with their only loss coming against 49er forward Robert Braswell’s former team, Syracuse. Other than their battle with the Orange, Drexel has had a relatively easy first three games.
Camren Winter is the player to watch for the Dragons. He leads the team in ppg and assists per game with 15.3 and 5.3 respectively. If the 49ers end up facing the Dragons, it will likely be another outstanding guard matchup as well.
This team shoots close to 50% combined, so the rugged pack-line defense that Sanchez likes to play will need to be very disruptive and not let Drexel get open looks.
Keys to slaying the Dragons
— Good ball security as Drexel averages four steals per game
— No open threes for the Dragons
— Utilize depth of the roster
The Green Wave have played three close games this season with no win or loss margin being greater than four points. Their lone victory came in their first game against SE Louisianna. Their losses include a three-point loss to Southern and a four-point loss to Florida State, who are picked to finish top five in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year. This being said, they could pose the biggest threat to the 49ers.
Green Wave guard Jalen Cook is that guy. He is a three-point sniper who is averaging 22.7 ppg coming into the tournament. The matchup between Jahmir Young and Jalen Cook would be must-see TV without question. Not to mention he too leads the team in assists with five per game.
Keys to riding the Wave
— Utilize double teams on Jalen Cook
— Get on the glass as Tulane averages 35 rebounds per game
— Excellent transition defense
Coming into the tournament, the Beacons have a lot to prove as they are 0-3. Not a lot of guys get minutes on this team other than their starting five, so this is something to keep an eye on because teams with any depth can wear this team down quickly.
Another forward who can pose a threat is Thomas Kithier. He shoots the ball very well and stretches the floor with his 6’8 stature. He is a guy who can hurt teams inside and out and will be a tough matchup for whoever draws him as an assignment.
Keys to dimming the Beacons
— Limit paint touches
— Force the Beacons into halfcourt sets
— Tons of pressure. The Beacons are averaging 14 turnovers a game. Exploit that!
Two close losses and a dominating win have been the narrative early for the Gamecocks. No, not South Carolina, but Jacksonville state brings in a formidable team and will not be a pushover by any means.
This team can rebound the ball well. That in itself is an understatement. They come into the tournament as the best rebounding team in the tournament snagging more than 41 a game as a team. Any team who faces the Gamecocks will be in for a long day on the glass.
Keys to roasting the Gamecocks
— It is probably a given but… Box Out!
— One-shot and done for the Gamecocks
— Let Jahmir work
One blow-out win and one blow-out loss. This is probably the hardest team to scout being that they have the smallest body of work to analyze thus far in the season. Only two games played and both being dramatically different results leaves many questioning just what this team is really capable of?
Center Estam Mostafa is the leading scorer for Coastal Carolina with over 17 ppg. He leads the team in rebounding also with 12.5 a game. It is early, but averaging a double-double is no easy task and Mostafa is one of few who are doing just that. Aly Khalifa will have his work cut out for him if the 49ers end up facing Coastal Carolina.
Keys to taming the Chanticleers
— Big game from the 49er guards
— Force the issue in the paint to try and get fouls on Mostafa
— Also in this game, utilize roster depth
Getting Ready for Tip-off
Charlotte will be the first to hit the court against Toledo at 12 p.m. They will need to get out to a quick start but do the things needed to avoid the five or six-minute drought that almost cost them the victory against App State.
It promises to be a good tournament. You can catch the action on FloHoops all day long and all week long. Follow my Twitter @cwilliamssports for live tweet updates if you don’t have a FloHoops subscription.