Charlotte's improvement this season came in baby steps under second-year coach Alan Major. The 49ers, whose season ended Tuesday in an 80-64 defeat at Saint Joseph's in an Atlantic 10 tournament first-round game, made a three-game improvement overall (13-17) and in the league (5-11) from 2010-11. The 49ers didn't qualify for the league tournament in 2011.
There was hope for something better, but a failure to find a scorer to consistently complement center Chris Braswell (who averaged 15.8 points) never materialized. Forward Javarris Barnett, more of a threat from long range, sometimes provided that, but not enough to move the 49ers into the middle of the Atlantic 10 standings.
The biggest revelation for Charlotte was the emergence of freshman Pierria Henry, who started from the outset. The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 2.6 steals (sixth nationally) and provided the 49ers a big, tough defensive presence on the perimeter. Sophomore forward DeMario Mayfield also developed a solid all-around game late in the season.
One of the 49ers' expected strengths -- depth in the backcourt -- fell apart when backup Luka Voncina left the team over the holidays. Shooting guard Derrio Green, the team's leading scorer in 2010-11, dropped out of the rotation when he couldn't provide the defense Major wanted.
--Junior F Chris Braswell just missed a double-double in Charlotte's loss at Xavier, scoring 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and gathering nine rebounds. Braswell had recorded a double-double in the previous game, a loss to Duquesne, with 17 points and 11 boards. It was his seventh of the season. For the regular season, Braswell scored at a 15.6 clip and averaged 7.6 rebounds, which ranked him 10th and sixth in the two categories, respectively, in the Atlantic 10. In 16 conference games, he average 16.9 points (sixth) and 7.5 rebounds (11th).
--G Pierria Henry earned a spot on the A-10 all-freshman team after averaging 7.2 points and 3.4 assists per game. He led the 49ers in steals with 69 in the regular season, which was 40 more than the No. 2 guy in the category, G/F Demario Mayfield.Henry's average of 2.6 steals per game ranked second in the conference in all games, and he was second in conference play as well with his 2.5 average.
--If a game comes down to free throws, Charlotte figures to be at a disadvantage in the tournament. Among the 12 teams in the field, only Duquesne's 64.3 percent was lower than Charlotte's 67.1 percent in 16 conference games.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2.4 -- Charlotte blocked only 2.4 shots a game in 16 conference outings, which ranked last in the A-10.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our guys understand that we are capable of playing with anybody. When we do that that, we can be pretty good. It's just a matter of sustaining it for 40 minutes." -- Coach Alan Major, on his team's prospects in the A-10 tourney.
FUTURES MARKET: Charlotte returned to the A-10 tourney field after sitting out last year following its 13th-place finish. The 49ers haven't won a game in the event since 2008, when they advanced to the semifinals by beating Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In fact, those are the only two tourney wins for the 49ers in six appearances.
LOOKING AHEAD: In junior F Chris Braswell and freshman G Pierria Henry, the 49ers will have two of the top players in the league next season. Finding a No. 2 scorer behind Braswell will be the key task for coach Alan Major. That could come from junior G Deuce Briscoe or freshman E. Victor Nickerson. Mayfield became a versatile, do-everything player in the second half of the season, and he will need to keep that production going if Charlotte is to rise in the Atlantic 10 standings.
--Junior F Chris Braswell made named Atlantic 10 all-conference third team. Freshman G Pierria Henry made the all-rookie team.
--Henry had at least one steal in every game and multiple steals in 22 games. He broke the 49ers' 22-year freshman record with 72 steals, swiping three in the Atlantic 10 tournament loss at St. Joseph's.