Photo credit: Charlotte Athletics
It’s that time of the season Niner fans!
We’re just a few hours away from tipping off of the year against MEAC opponent Coppin St. Coach Ron Sanchez and company will get the season started off at Halton Arena at 6pm ET, in what’s shaping up to be a pivotal campaign for Sanchez as Charlotte moves into the American next year. You can stream this one on ESPN+ or listen to it via ESPN 730am.
The Eagles of Coppin State have an interesting start to the schedule, visiting Charlotte tonight before a Tuesday night showdown at Georgetown, hence the earlier than normal 6pm ET tip tonight. The Eagles finished 7th of 8 in the MEAC last year in the regular season before going on an impressive run to the championship game, where they ultimately fell to Norfolk State. A similar tournament run could see them back in March Madness for the first time since 2008.
A key player to watch Monday night for the Eagles will be preseason 1st team nominee Nendah Tarke, a 6’4 Redshirt Sophomore Guard from Gaithersburg, MD. Tarke lead the nation by averaging 2.94 steals per game last season, while averaging 13.4 points per game. Coppin State Head Coach Juan Dixon (yes, the former Maryland Terrapins standout) also added made a move to bolster the Eagles roster with a Big Ten transfer from Penn State, Sam Sessoms. Sessoms averaged over 11 points per game last season, 3rd best for the Nittany Lions, and shot an impressive 42% from three.
The Niners will walk into Halton Monday night 11 point favorites. Look for a big night from sophomore Aly Khalifa, while Coppin State created a lot of turnovers last season this year’s team is very undersized down low which could benefit Khalifa, should he be provided with many low post touches. Redshirt Junior Brice Williams makes his long awaited return to the court and big minutes should be expected from him along with a slew of transfers: Lu’Cye Patterson (Missouri State), Montre’ Gipson (Tarleton State), Igor Milicic (Virginia) and Josh Aldrich (USC Upstate).
Following Monday’s game vs. Coppin State, the 49ers will begin preparation for another MEAC opponent in Maryland Eastern Shore. This will be the second consecutive year against UMES, the Niners defeated them 70-54 last season.