On Saturday the Charlotte 49ers will travel to Washington D.C. for the final time as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference when they battle the George Washington Colonials at 2p.m.
Since the 49ers joined the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06, they have played the Colonials at the Charles E. Smith Center five times - and haven't won once.
In fact, the 49ers have only won two of their 11 games at the Smith Center. Their last victory came over 11 years ago, a 97-87 triumph on Dec. 29, 2001. Ironically, that was their second straight victory at the Smith Center.
The Smith Center provided the 49ers some hideous defeats - namely the Mike Hall and Leemire Goldwire fiasco of 2006 - a game that gave the Colonials the fourth perfect season in A10 history.
Needless to say, the 49ers would like to get their first A10 victory at the Smith Center with their last opportunity.
The Colonials come in riding high after collecting road wins at Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Freshman point guard Joe McDonald hit the go ahead baseline jumper against Rhode Island with 9.3 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Colonials to victory.
McDonald is one of four freshmen starters for the Colonials. The anchor of their starting lineup is senior forward Isaiah Armwood. The 6-foot-9-inch 210 pound Villanova transfer leads the team in scoring (12.1) and rebounding (8.3).
The 49ers rebounded from a 20 point loss at Richmond with a home victory over Xavier. In that game the 49ers made a change in the starting lineup by inserting DeMario Mayfield for Terrence Williams.
In the victory, the 49ers received big performances from freshmen Denzel Ingram and Willie Clayton. Ingram scored 10 first half points while Clayton pitched in 14 points and 8 rebounds.
This game will feature the league's two worst 3-point shooting teams cumulatively. The 49ers are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, as well as one of the worst in the entire country.
While the Colonials rank second to last cumulatively, in five league games they are shooting 38.5 percent, which ranks fourth. In two games at home, they've hit 9-of-19 3-pointers.
After this game, both teams will not play again until the following Saturday.
1. In five A10 games, the 49ers have turned the ball over 82 times, which is the most in the league. That averages out to 16.4 turnovers per game. On a per game average, the 49ers are third worst, behind Fordham (16.8) and Dayton (17.5).
2. The Colonials have forced 66 turnovers in five A10 games.
2A. The Colonials have scored an average of 16.6 points per game off of their opponents turnovers. That averages out to 1.26 points scored per each opponent turnover.
3. The 49ers have scored 26 fast break points in five A10 games. They did not have one fast break point against Xavier.
3A. The Colonials have scored 38 fast break points in five A10 games.
4. For the entire season, the 49ers have attempted 460 free throws. That averages out to 24.2 attempts per game. Entering Friday, the 49ers ranked 29th nationally in free throw attempts.
4A. The 49ers only shoot 64.3 percent from the free throw line, which put them in a tie for 296th nationally entering Friday's action.
4B. In five A10 games, the 49ers have attempted 135 free throws, the most in the league. VCU is second in attempts with 115.
4C. In league play, the 49ers shoot 64.4 percent from the charity stripe, which ranks 12th.
4D. The 49ers have left 164 points on the board from missed free throws on the year, 48 points in league play.
4E. The 49ers have made 87 free throws in league play. Ten teams have attempted 86 free throws or less.
4F. Darion Clark is shooting 39.7 percent from the free throw line on the season and 36.4 percent in A10 play. Clark is going to get the "hack-a-Shaq" treatment if he continues to shoot so poorly. However, it could lead to a funny moment down the road if a coach has a sense of humor.
4G. In league play, 59.3 percent of E. Victor Nickerson's offensive production has came from the free throw line. He has scored 16 of his 27 A10 points from the charity stripe.
5. Against Xavier, Denzel Ingram scored 12 points. He had only scored 11 in the first four games.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Limit Armwood: Armwood is a handful. He leads the Colonials in minutes played, rebounding, scoring, blocks and field goal percentage. He's a disciplined player - he's only fouled out of one game all year and only averages 2.6 fouls per game. The 49ers cannot let Armwood own the paint and they have to minimize his scoring chances.
2. Limit McDonald: After a rough start to A10 play, McDonald has been exceptional. In his last two games, both victories, he's averaged 14 points, 6.5 assists and has only turned it over three times. He has also been able to get to the free throw line with 17 attempts (13 came against UMass). He has a lot of confidence in his shot right now and he knocked in both of his 3-point attempts against Rhode Island.
3. Limit careless turnovers: As noted earlier, the Colonials have made opponents pay for turning the ball over in A10 play. The 49ers have to execute better, especially when they attempt to push the ball up the court on the fast break.
Tim's Closing Thought
There is a lot on the line in this game for the Charlotte 49ers. It's far from a guarantee, but the 49ers are in the discussion for post season play. If they want to keep dreaming about the NCAA Tournament, they must win games like this.
Although the Colonials are 9-9, they are playing well and as mentioned earlier, the 49ers have never won at George Washington as a member of the Atlantic 10.
The closest they came to winning at the Smith Center was their first season in the league, which was the infamous "Goldwire technical, Hall foul," game. For whatever reason, the Smith Center has been the 49ers kryptonite since they joined the league.
If the 49ers can finally win at this building, they could make another statement about how far they have come in such a short period of time. The February gauntlet is right around the corner and the 49ers need to win games like this to prepare themselves for what lies ahead.