On Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. the Charlotte 49ers Men's Basketball team will participate in an exhibition game against the University of Georgia. This exhibition will be the first game between the two teams in program history and it is a home game for the 49ers.
In addition to this game being a historical one, the 49ers will be having a fund to support the memorial and remembrance efforts of the tragic incident that happened on April 30, 2019. The Niners coming from Conference USA (C-USA) will try to start their season off right with a win against Georgia of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). A win against Georgia would give the Niners some much needed momentum and confidence heading into the season opener against James Madison University, but seeing the emergence of a solid defense and strong possessions from the 49ers would be a start.
"We're pretty much starting in the same place...we started 12 months ago. There aren’t many guys with a lot of experience, so for us to continue to grow and learn every day is important," said Charlotte 49ers Head Coach Ron Sanchez. "There's some things we feel like we're doing well. We're nowhere near we need to be, but we're definitely walking in the right direction."
Last year's Charlotte and Georgia teams had forgettable seasons with the Niners having a 5-13 conference record and an 8-21 overall record and the Bulldogs having a 2-16 conference record and an 11-21 overall record. The relatively new head coaches of each team are looking to come away with a statement win in this matchup before the real test begins.
Sanchez is trying to mold this team and continue to help grow the program towards success in his second season as head coach. In the first year under his tutelage, the Niners held opponents to an average of 68.7 points a game which was an 11 point improvement from the year before and he is looking to improve on that even more to start his second season. Bulldogs coach, Tom Crean, is looking to improve in his second season after head coaching stints at Marquette and Indiana.
During this game, a big name to watch for on the Bulldogs side is freshman guard Anthony “Antman” Edwards. Coming out of high school, Edwards was a five star recruit and, as of now, Georgia’s highest ranked recruit ever. In the exhibition against Valdosta State, Edwards dropped 18 points to go along with seven boards on 7-11 shooting helping them secure the win in his first game. On the Niners side some big names to watch are sophomore guard Malik Martin who last season was the team's second leading scorer, and junior forward Milos Supica who led the team in rebounds last season.
This game for the Niners is a good one because it is at home against an SEC opponent, and even though last season was not their best, they still face stiff competition in their conference, giving the Niners a big boost if they put on a good performance in this contest. This exhibition also gives the 49ers a chance to see how the offense and defense look and how the younger players can contribute in-game. The Bulldogs get a good road test to evaluate how things have changed from year to year. They also get a chance to see how their players have settled in after playing their first game already and see how they perform on the road.
Not only is this game big for the Niners but also for the Bulldogs, who are both looking to see improvements from last season on both ends of the court. The coaches are settled in after their first seasons coaching new teams and now have had a full season and offseason to prepare. The returning players on both sides are adjusting to the game and their new roles while the newcomers may be showing off their own game. Georgia will be a tough opponent and will provide a good test on their home court to tip-off the season.