Charlotte looks to regain its footing

by Feb 26, 2024Basketball

Photo Credit: Charlotte Athletics

After a disappointing loss at USF back on February 6th, in which Charlotte lead by as many as 17 in the second half and held the lead the entirety of the game, until the final 29 seconds, the Niners rebounded and reeled off three straight wins (@ Temple, UTSA, Wichita State), and Niner Nation felt the momentum was back.

Fast forward to this past week, where a floundering Memphis team found their stride at home, dominated Charlotte while cruising to a 24-point win. Charlotte followed this up with a trip to Tulsa, where Charlotte once again squandered a double-digit second half lead on the road. I took a quick look at the box scores from CLT’s four AAC losses so far (all road games) to look for commonalities, and here’s what I found:

  • Charlotte was outrebounded in all 4 games
  • Charlotte allowed 10+ offensive rebounds in 3 out of 4 games, Tulsa had only 7 but did shoot 50.9% from the field
  • 3 out of 4 games CLT shot 31% or less from 3, shot 42.1% (9-21) vs Tulsa
  • 3 out of the 4 games, Charlotte’s A/T was all but even, again Tulsa game was the outlier where CLT had 18 assists to 10 turnovers
  • Aside from the SMU game, Charlotte’s offensive production in the second half of their losses in league play has plummeted. Against USF, CLT scored 47 in the first have before putting up 22 in the second half. 35 first half points versus Memphis, just 17 in the second half. At Tulsa, the Niners scored 42 first half points, with just 25 in the second half.

Given those things, what I’ll be watching the most in our final 3 games this regular season will be our opponents offensive rebounding, and how Fearne and his staff adjust (or don’t) in the second half of games.

The Final Stretch

After 4 games over the course of 9 days, Charlotte has a week off leading up to the USF game at Halton Arena on Saturday, March 2nd. USF comes in at the top of the standings in the AAC at 14-1, owning a 13-game win streak and have just made the Top 25 for the first time in program history. That said, USF isn’t an at-large candidate due to their non-conference performance. As of now favors Charlotte in all 3 remaining games: USF (68-65), Rice (71-63), and at ECU (63-62).

Fearne’s group is currently 7-0 at Halton in league play, and 4-4 on the road (losing 3 out of the last 4 road games). As of now there are plenty of tickets available for USF, which will unfortunately be during Spring Break, so alumni and general public will have to step it up to create a havoc-filled atmosphere with the majority of students being missing in action.

While Charlotte’s odds at regular season conference title are all but gone (2.3% chance to share per, the hunt for a coveted double-bye in the AAC tourney is one. I’m not 100% certain on this, but I believe if Charlotte wins 2 of the final 3, they are all but locked into one.

So far Fearne’s group has wildly exceeded expectations, but in-season success changes expectations in real-time. I think it goes without saying that we’re collectively better than the sum of our parts (this team really lacks depth), and to me that’s coaching. While saying that, I think it’s also fair to say that our losses share some areas of concern that relate to coaching/scheming. I’m on record of stating that I felt for Fearne to get the job, I thought he’d need to finish top four in the AAC. Barring a collapse, that will happen, and I’m excited to see how his squad finishes things out.

If Charlotte is to make a run at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX, they’ll need more consistent play from this group, especially the bench. You can’t win in March without depth stepping up.

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