Friday, February 29, 2008

Q and A with Jim Utter from The Gold Mine

Jim Utter is a beat writer for Charlotte athletics at The Charlotte Observer and also a 1991 graduate of Charlotte. Jim also writes The Gold Mine, a Charlotte athletics blog.

Be sure to check out my responses at The Gold Mine.

1. Charlotte has had a lot of success at home this year, (11-3) but they are just dreadful on the road (3-7). Is there any explanation for the 49ers road struggles?

Bizarrly, one of Charlotte's biggest wins this season came at nationally ranked Clemson. In general, the team feeds off the home crowd and has trouble finding that same energy on the road. Most games have come down to one-two possessions, and on the road in this league this season the margin of error is nil.

2. The 49ers feature a strong inside presence in 6'7 230lb Pf. Lamont Mack. How has Mack faired against bigger post players this year? Do you think Mack will have a tough time battling with the Dukes' twin towers 6'10 Kieron Achara and 6'10 Shawn James?

Charlotte hasn't really faced what I would say many consistent inside post threats this season. They did well against Appalachian State's Donte Miller and a physical Clemson team. Mack will get plenty of help from 6-7 athletic forward Charlie Coley (incredible leaper) and 6-10 Phil Jones, a sophomore playing his first season of Division I basketball.

3. Bobby Lutz has been a fixture at head coach at Charlotte. Lutz has had a positive impact on the 49ers program including 5 NCAA tournament appearances in his 9 years with the program, and his 07-08 recruiting class has been ranked as high as 13th in the country. Duquesne fans are quite nervous about Ron Everhart leaving our program and it begs the question, how has Charlotte been able to keep such a successful coach from leaving their program?

The key to Lutz's tensure is that he grew up in North Carolina, not far from Charlotte, his family still lives here, he went to Charlotte and did most of his prior coaching at Division II Pfeiffer, about 20 miles from Charlotte campus. This is home for him. He has flirted with other offers but has said many times he would like to remain at Charlotte for his career, and even in some other role once he stops coaching basketball.

4. Charlotte's stats indicate they are a turnover prone team, with 386 turnovers vs. 339 assists for the season. How will the 49ers cope with the Dukes full court pressure defense?

Actually, Charlotte has played at its best when facing man defense. They have struggled their worst when facing zone. One on one and individually, Charlotte players are much more athletic and talented than the team which beat Duquesne last season.

5. The 49ers have lost 4 of their last 5 games is there any explanation for this skid?

Basically, lack of making necessary plays down the stretch and in frustration seeing its defense soften in the second half. In every game except for Temple (where Charlotte had many open looks but couldn't find the bottom of the basket), the 49ers' losses have been one or two possession games. At home and earlier this season, those close games bounced in Charlotte's favor. In addition, leading scorer Leemire Goldwire has struggled of late, he's 2 of 23 from 3-point land over his past four games.

6. Your final score prediction?
Charlotte 92, Duquesne 84. I expect a high paced exciting game.

1 comment:

Jon said...

My uncles Jim & Rege both went to and played basketball for the Dukes... I am a Niner Alumni and after going to (my hometown) Pittsburgh last year for the game and being the only guy wearing green, it will be nice to see them being the only ones in blue and red. Charlotte moving to the A10 has helped develop a family rivalry... GO NINERS!!!