What we learned photo

Charlotte's basketball teams are back in action on Jan. 13 after several postponements. 

Charlotte's basketball program had a sense of enthusiasm heading into this season with a handful of new acquisitions for both teams. With non-conference play coming to a close, it's important to note the valuable things learned from the first half of the year and if Charlotte can live up to the pre-season excitement during the important stretch of their schedules. 

The men's team sits at 7-5, and the women's team is 4-6.

Here's what we learned from the men's and women's non-conference slates. 

The men's team needs to close games more efficiently

Closing out games has been an issue for Charlotte all year long. Starting with the home opener against Monmouth, the 49ers led by double digits late in the game before squandering the lead and needing a defensive stand as time expired to win the game.

In their first road game against a fiery Appalachian State team, Charlotte needed a go-ahead bucket with less than a minute to go from third-year standout Jahmir Young to regain the advantage after blowing an 18 point lead.

The 49ers' proneness to giving up leads can be tied to long scoring droughts in almost every game this season. To add on to the point about blown leads, droughts have also prevented the 49ers from staying in ball games against formidable opponents and giving the team a chance down the stretch. If Charlotte is going to compete for a conference title this season, these scoring droughts must end as the team enters conference play.

Charlotte's women's team might have the best guard duo in Conference-USA

A big reason for the women's competitiveness during non-conference play has been the stellar play of the starting guards. Octavia Jett-Wilson and Mikayla Boykin have been on a tear to start the season. Jett-Wilson is averaging 17.4 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Combining that with the 12.8 points per game, 2.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds from Mikayla Boykin makes a lethal backcourt for the 49ers.

If both of the guards can keep up their strong starts to the season, Charlotte has a chance to compete for a conference championship led by their fantastic pair of guards.

Jahmir Young has a real shot at C-USA Player of the Year

Another year, another season of improvement for Jahmir Young. Since joining the 49ers back in 2019, Young has arguably been the best player on the team every single season. He's again taken another step this year in every statistical category.

Young is averaging the most points, rebounds, and assists per game of his entire career this season and has been a huge part of the team's 7-5 record. With 20.1 points, 4.1 assists and 5.8 rebounds a game, Jahmir has a real shot at winning the prestigious award for the first time since the 2004-2005 season for the 49ers.

The award will likely come down between Young and Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Lofton Jr., but Young remains in a great position to win the award.

Charlotte's women's team needs to be more aggressive inside

Against teams with talented bigs, Charlotte struggled to control the paint and win the rebound battle. Their most challenging opponents in non-conference play (North Carolina, Delaware, Iowa State, West Virginia) out-rebounded the 49ers by a combined 76 rebounds and averaged 32.5 points a game in the paint.

Two of the biggest elements in winning basketball are out-rebounding your opponent and locking down the paint. Unfortunately, Charlotte struggled to do both of those against top competitors and will need to improve in both areas if they're going to compete for the top spot in the conference. 

Both teams have the talent to win their conference

If there's one thing you can attribute to both teams, it's that both of these rosters have enough talent to win their conference titles. With both led by their combo of guards, Jahmir Young and Clyde Trapp Jr. for the men, and Octavia Jett-Wilson and Mikayla Boykin for the women, these teams will go as far as their backcourts take them. The men have gone blow for blow with a top team in the ACC in Wake Forest, and the women have battled hard with the likes of West Virginia and Davidson. They've both shown throughout non-conference play that they could have the opportunity to take home the crown in their conferences with a little bit more consistency.

Both teams are eager to get back on the court as both the men's and women's teams have had three games postponed due to COVID-19 related issues. The teams will be back in action on Jan. 13 as the men's team hosts UTEP, while the women's team plays at UTEP. 

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