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January 28, 2013The Charlotte 49ers and Head Coach Alan Major are coming off of a topsy-turvy three-game span in the last eight days. The 49ers (16-4,4-2) experienced two demoralizing blowout losses on the road, one at Richmond, the other at George Washington. In between those games they hosted Xavier at Halton Arena, getting one of the biggest wins of the season in front of a raucous white out crowd.
Charlotte will have an entire week to prepare for their Homecoming game against Massachusetts on February 2.
Opening Statement from Alan Major:
Good to get a win last weekend here at home. Xavier's been a hallmark of the A10 over the past number of years, the crowd was tremendous we had a white out and I thought the students were excellent.
Saturday unfortunately we took one on the chin against GW; I want to give them a lot of credit. I think the big thing our guys learned from that is when you have a performance like we did against Xavier, people pay attention. That next team wants to measure themselves against whatever success you may have had.
A lot of our guys, really no one in our locker room had been in that situation, especially being 16-4; there are some chances to teach some maturity from this. We can get a bull's-eye on our back as we move along here. To go through that Saturday, obviously you hate to lose that way but at the same time you can steal a lesson out of it. The lesson is, to make sure you always keep your dukes up because teams in this league, when you've had some success, much like we did against Xavier, you want to prove yourself. And I think that's what our guys learned.
Q: The team tends to struggle when games become tightly officiated, what are you doing to work on that?
Major: I think it's not so much adjusting to the officials in particular, I think it's making sure you try to set a certain tone in terms of aggression. I thought here against Xavier, we set the tone for the game, and Xavier probably had an argument on a few calls I think some of that is because of the tone we set, and that sometimes creates a certain flow on how some games can be officiated. That's the way it goes in conference play, things tend to be let go a little bit, so it's a matter of just being able to adjust the right way.
Q: You got an off week with no Wednesday game, is that a good thing or a bad thing coming off of a loss like that at GW?
Major: I think it's in the eye of the beholder, if someone wants to paint it as a negative you easily can. I'm looking at it as a positive because I think we'll look at ourselves and go back to a training camp mode for a couple days. We'll talk about UMass a little but the focus will be us, you get into Thursday/Friday then you can really get into more of the scouting stuff in terms of UMass and what you want to do specifically with personnel and things of that nature.
Q: Talk about setting the tone beyond officiating What's it take to be on the good and the bad end of that?
Major: It's a tone that gets set by that particular team that has more aggression. As we continue to grow and mature, our next step is figuring out how to string that together, and we really have on most nights up to this point. This time of the year, you look around the country; I mean Louisville's dropped three in a row, VCU two in a row last week, so everybody in their own way deals with a little valley. What an opportunity we have, to see how we can bounce back, we're telling our guys, "Hey, you got through the end of January with four losses, make sure you continue to stay on our path." It's clear now, when we get off our path, what happens.
Q: Can you talk about Mayfield in the starting lineup and your decision on that?
Major: We thought we'd give it a look, especially with a bye week coming up. You want to keep him the same coming off the bench; he's given us a nice punch, I think the thing that's probably great about it is he's never been known as a three-point shooter but he's steadily improving his percentage. In that regard, hopefully you have another guy that can stretch the defense a little and make some shots.
Q: Could you talk about squad rotation, concerning Denzel Ingram and Terrence Williams back and forth with the starting position, especially because of Ingram's recent success and William's struggles throughout the year?
Major: I thought Denzel [Ingram] hit a couple buckets in the first half [of the Xavier Game] that just kept a flow going, even though that was a muddy half for both teams. I thought he deflated some of the pressure so nobody else had to feel forced to do anything. T [Williams] knows he's not in a mode right now where he's playing his best, and that's where we come in as coaches. If kids had to do it all on their own, they wouldn't need us. Our goal now is to crystallize what makes him good, and getting him back to doing that as best as possible.
Q: Concerning turnovers, the team seems to get in grooves where they try to go one-on-one. Have you worked on ball movement, trying to get an offensive flow going?
Major: There are certain times where a guy driving the ball is the best thing for us. Especially if it's our better guys that have the ability to get in the paint and get fouled. That's something that we've tried to do a little bit better this year, is score more points in the paint. I thought last year we tried to shoot too many threes, and we tried to back up on that a bit and get more paint shots this year, whether it's man or zone.
Q: You play physical on defense and have opportunities to score on transition, but have lacked in converting those chances. What are you doing to improve execution?
Major: As you continue to play different guys into different lineups we're still - as crazy as it sounds - but because of injuries and other things we've had, we still have guys playing in combinations that are still getting used to playing with each other. That just goes to show how many guys we have capable of playing.
I worked for Coach [Thad] Matta at Ohio State, and he played a six man, sometimes seven man rotations, so it was easy for those guys to play with each other on a daily basis, that group was the same group every day. Because of injuries and other things we've had, we've moved guys around at times. Every game really takes a face of its own in terms of who's playing well, I think some of those things we can continue to iron out which we will.