Charlotte/Coppin State MB preview

Charlotte senior forward Robert Braswell IV (20) in the huddle during a basketball game against Old Dominion on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.

The Charlotte men's basketball team kicks off the season by hosting Coppin State on Monday, Nov. 7. The 49ers are looking to start 1-0 for the second consecutive season. 

Head Coach Ron Sanchez said the team is excited to be back. 

"We are excited to be back in our space," said Sanchez. "My expectations are always qualitative. We must eliminate what we call 'losing factors' to go far. The biggest thing for us is to improve on the defensive side of the ball."

Last season's results

The 49ers finished the 2021-22 campaign with a 17-14 overall record and were 10-8 in Conference USA (C-USA) play. 

The squad boasted wins against Appalachian State and Western Carolina last season. The team struggled in the second half before ending the season with a 73-61 loss to Rice in the Heritage Landscape Supply Group C-USA tournament. 

Departures

The 49ers lost Jahmir Young, who was the team's leading scorer last season. He averaged 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. Young entered the transfer portal over the offseason committing to play at Maryland. 

Charlotte also loses guards Austin Butler and Clyde Trapp, who were key players for the squad. Butler and Trapp averaged 12.6 and nine points per game last season, respectively. 

The 49ers will have to fill these holes if they hope to have a successful season. 

Scouting the 49ers

The 49ers are a new-look squad this season but have many players looking to take major steps. The team adds seven newcomers, five transfers and two freshmen into the ranks. 

A key piece from last year's team is redshirt sophomore center Aly Khalifa. He was a six-time C-USA Freshman of the Week in 2021-22 and was C-USA Freshman of the Year. The 49ers are counting on Khalifa, who averaged 7.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists to be a key piece of the team. 

Junior guard Jackson Threadgill is back after a sophomore campaign where he averaged 5.9 points and 1.7 rebounds. He ranked third on the team in three-point percentage, averaging 35.4%. Charlotte will need him to step into the leadership role this season. 

Redshirt junior guard Brice Williams returns to the 49ers after being sidelined with a knee injury for a year and a half. He last played in 2020-21 and averaged 9.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Williams brings a veteran presence, and the 49ers will need him to step up. 

Scouting the Eagles

The Eagles finished 9-23 overall and 6-8 in MEAC play a year ago. The team had wins over Loyola Maryland and Howard throughout the season.

Coppin State made a run in the MEAC tournament, dropping the championship game to No.1 seed Norfolk State 72-57. 

The Eagles are missing two of its top three scorers from last season, Jesse Zarzuela and Tyree Corbett. The players averaged 14.7 and 13.6 points per game, respectively, a year ago. The squad will be relying on others to fill their production.

Redshirt sophomore guard Nendah Tarke will lead the way for the Eagles. Tarke, a 2022 HBCU All-American, averaged 13.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.9 steals in 2021-22. Charlotte will have to slow him down if they hope to come out on top.

Keys to a Charlotte victory

The 49ers will have to shoot the ball effectively from the deep if they hope to win the contest. The team shot 34.5% from three last season, which they need to improve.

Getting three-point percentage leader senior forward Robert Braswell IV and senior guard Musa Jallow going will be a deciding factor in the game's result.

Rebounding is crucial for any team as it closes out possessions for opponents and can lead to second-chance points on the offensive end.

Opponents outrebounded Charlotte 1,008 to 969, and the 49ers ranked 313th in the NCAA in total rebounds. The 49ers have to rebound better in this game and the season if they hope to be successful. 

Matchup history

The squads have met twice, with the 49ers coming out on top in both contests. 

The first meeting came in 2005 in Laramie, Wyoming, as Charlotte defeated the Eagles 82-65. The last matchup in December 2011 was in Halton Arena and the 49ers won by 11, 74-63. 

Looking to gameday

Charlotte will kick off the season on Monday, Nov. 7, when they take on the Coppin State Eagles. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. inside Halton Arena, and the game will be available to stream on ESPN+.