The Charlotte 49ers look to end their season high three game losing streak tonight against the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the last of a three game homestand. After sitting atop the A10 standings a few weeks ago the Niners (18-8, 8-4) now find themselves in fifth place, one game behind Saint Louis. The Hawks (9-18, 3-10) have lost four in a row and seven of their last eight.
Why have the Niners lost three games in a row?
"Our shooting percentages over the last three games have been very sub par," said Niner Head Coach Bobby Lutz during Monday's Atlantic 10 Teleconference. "No matter how hard you play or what you do at some point you have to be able to put the ball in the basket and we just haven't been able to do that."
That could be an understatement by Lutz considering that the Niners have shot 32 percent from the field over the last three games. In fact the Niners are shooting only 36 percent from inside the arc and 22.6 percent from beyond.
It hasn't helped that the Niners have not been able to put the defensive clamps down on their opponents either. Opponents are shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 58.7 percent from inside the arc, and 33.9 percent from beyond over the last three games.
It's fitting that "40" seems to be the magic number for the Niners when it comes to their shooting percentage when it correlates to winning. Seven of the Niners eight losses this season have ocurred in games where they shot less than 40 percent from the field. The Niners have shot below 40 percent 10 times this season and they have won just three of those contests.
Sophomore Derrio Green is coming off of a 23 point performance against Xavier but he has struggled to put the ball in the hoop over the last three games. Green has shot 27.5 percent from the field, 20.7 percent from the 3-point line, during the Niners three game skid. He averages 14.1 points per game, 17 per game in league play.
When Green is not hitting from the outside teams have had the luxury of throwing everything including the kitchen sink defensively at junior Shamari Spears. Spears has averaged 15 points over the last three games but is only shooting 35.6 percent from the field.
With four games remaining in the regular season the Niners cannot afford to drop another home game, especially to the Hawks who sit 13th in the standings. The Hawks are led by a pair of senior guards in Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson. They score 36.7 percent (25.2 of 68.1) of the Hawks points.
"With the way we're playing we better be ready for Saint Joseph's," Lutz said.
Statitudes --The Niners have made more free throws (499) than their opponents have attempted (492) this season. Nationally the Niners are ranked in the top 40 in attempts and top 25 in percentage. If the Niners keep their current pace up over the next four games they have a chance to break season records for makes and attempts. The record for makes in one season belongs to the famed 1977 Final Four team with 549. Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell set individual records that season in both makes (202) and attempts (263). Maxwell was responsible for 36.8 percent of the Niners makes that season!
The 2007-08 squad holds the record for most attempts with 808, the Niners have attempted 674 free throws so far this season. In fact the Niners have shot over 20 free throws in all but two games. The first time was in their 22 point win at Louisville and the second time was in their 33 point loss at Old Dominion.
--Chris Braswell has scored 15 points or more in five games this season and the Niners have won each one of them. He has averaged eight points and 10.7 rebounds over the last three games.