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February 21, 2013The Charlotte 49ers and Head Coach Alan Major return home after recording the marquee win of the regular season at Hinkle Field House against the Butler Bulldogs (71-67). Contrary of the win against then No. 10 Butler (22-5,9-3), the 49ers are anything but elated as they return home, following their week-long road trip.
In the latter contest of the two back-to-back road games, a disheveling performance by the 49ers left the Saint Louis Billikens victorious, 76-58. Down to the Billikens (20-5, 9-2) for majority of the match, the 49ers made it interesting with an early second half rally bringing the Saint Louis lead to as little as five points. After working to level the score, the 49ers progressively dwindled as a threat to the Billikens resulting in the final, 18-point defeat.
Alan Major's Opening Statement:
Unfortunately we had a loss at Saint Louis, as the league is finding out [Chaifetz Arena] is a difficult place to play. I thought for us to not quite be ourselves, and to still have a chance, five-point game with five minutes to go was encouraging as I go back to watch the film. Last Wednesday night was a special victory for the university, [as well as] the athletic department and the basketball program. Anytime this school gets put out there for any reason, [men's basketball], men's soccer, women's basketball; whatever the case may be, it's special.
Q: Can you talk about setting up the season's next five games with the weeklong layoff, and how important they are for the team?
Alan Major: They've all been big; I think they're all just as big as the others. With all of the roster changes, we're probably coaching our fourth or fifth different team. After our first double road trip the kids have to get caught up academically after missing a week of school, so it was mainly about that on Monday, yesterday and today. Today and tomorrow it's about scouting yourself, finding out where you are on both sides of the ball and how you can improve getting ready for this stretch.
Friday/Saturday we'll hone in on Temple, luckily we've played them once already so you don't need as much prep as you do for a lot of other teams. That's where we kind of are this week.
Q: In preparation for Temple (loss, 89-88), what do you focus on from the first game?
Major: I felt we let [Temple] score easily to start the game, and that's not who we are. But we had multiple opportunities and stayed in striking distance [during the game]. We were down double-digits late and the kids fought right back to be close at the end. They were painful experiences, but growing experiences nonetheless.
Q: Being involved in bracket-talk, what's your impression of people mentioning you guys playing in March?
Major: I think it means more if you stay in the discussion. It's good to be in it, but it's one thing to talk about getting married, it's another to have the reception and the ceremony. Then it's time to celebrate.
Q: What were the key differences facing Butler and Saint Louis and what caused the issues against the Billikens?
Major: We gave up an uncharacteristic amount of three's against Saint Louis, and to their credit, almost like Temple, they had a guy come in that they probably don't count on night-in night-out and he delivered against us (Jake Barnett, 4-5 3-point FG). You take [Barnett] away and it's probably a completely different ballgame.
Saint Louis and Butler are both tremendous defensive teams that are different in a way. Saint Louis tried to keep the ball out of certain guy's hands a little bit more. Whereas Butler's defense is a little bit more position oriented, as they try to keep you in front of them. That's the biggest contrast between the two teams.
Q: Were you discouraged about the lack of physicality in the paint against Saint Louis?
Major: They had a couple [drives to the basket] and we had a couple in the second half, where Pierria Henry was able to turn the corner and lay it in I think with the age of our crew, we're starting to learn that there's a certain margin for error, and on the road you have to do everything you can to try and be that six-to-eight-points better than you would be at home.
Q: E. Victor Nickerson's ability to hit running mid-range jumpers helps the team going, how did Saint Louis eliminate that threat?
Major: He watched the film [of Saint Louis], and he's a pretty astute kid to his credit. After watching the film he had one of those "a-ha" moments realizing what [the coaching staff] meant during the game. They tried to come up to him a little bit more, and sometimes when that happens you don't realize that's the prime time to give a hand-check or hip-check. He looked back and realized where he could have had a number of opportunities.