Explorers look to mine a win

The Charlotte 49ers are the Atlantic 10 version of Jekyll & Hyde. Which 49er team that shows will go a long way in determining whether La Salle can escape Halton arena with a win.

Charlotte Probable Starters: (8-11, 2-5)

12 Leemire Goldwire 5"11 JR. G
11 Ian Anderson 6"4 FR. G
00 Antwon Coleman 6"7 SR. C
15 De'Angelo Alexander 6"6 SR. F
1 E.J. Drayton 6"9 SR. F

Charlotte came into the Atlantic 10 with much fanfare. Last year's team lost in the 1st round of the A-10 tournament to Xavier ending an up and down first year ride for Coach Bobby Lutz's 49ers. This year's version is an even harder team to gauge while their downs go pretty far south. Charlotte has lost to juggernauts like North Texas, Davidson, and Houston. Disappointing season for the Niners to say the least who now stand at 8-11 and only 2-5 within the conference. Still this is a 49er team with some talent that has also allowed them to beat the likes of Hofstra and Dayton. They are on a current three game slide including a most recent loss to Massachusetts 66-61 on Sunday. Led by 6"6 senior De'Angelo Alexander who leads the team in scoring at just under 18 points a game. The Niners have a nice inside/outside combo in Alexander and fellow senior, 6"9 power forward E.J Drayton. While Alexander scores from the outside shooting almost 33% from three point range, Drayton is the banger getting 13 points a night and almost 9 rebounds to boot. Alexander was one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference last season but has struggled shooting the ball this year. That may have a lot to do with the Niners inconsistent play. While Alexander is the main shooter, 5"11 junior Leemire Goldwire is another sniper the Explorers must keep an eye on. Goldwire hit several key baskets in their win last year at Tom Gola arena finishing with 16 points. He is also a deadly free throw shooter knocking them down at over 87%. JUCO transfer Carlos Williams and freshman Ian Anderson complete 8th year head coach Bobby Lutz's lineup. 6"7 man-child Antwon Coleman and 6"9 post Courtney Williams add frontcourt depth with rebounding and defense.

Charlotte and La Salle are similar teams with similar results this season. The major difference is the 49ers are a veteran team while the Explorers are the youngest team in the league along with Richmond. Both teams are the top 3- point defending teams in the conference. That will be severely tested for La Salle as they will have to contend with Alexander, Goldwire, and Anderson's bombing. The Niners may catch a break with La Salle top shooter Darnell Harris' availability for this game still in doubt. However, Charlotte must keep La Salle off the boards and deny second chance opportunities. While Charlotte is a decent rebounding team La Salle is by far the best in the conference and getting better with each passing game at attacking the glass. The 49ers are not the greatest of offensive basketball teams and giving up second chances to the Explorers could force them into rushing shots to keep up with the frantic pace. La Salle may want to push the basketball as the Niners have several frontcourt players slow afoot.

The Explorers return to action following a 62-54 loss to Fordham in which they shot a putrid 33% for the game and lost despite out-rebounding the Rams by 20. Concerning for La Salle is the health of leading scorer Darnell Harris. He went down with an ankle injury after La Salle captured their first lead of the game. After that it was apparent the young Explorers were lost without their junior star. If Harris doesn't play one has to wonder who will pick up his slack and production from the outside and more importantly his stability handling the basketball. When Harris came out of the game La Salle struggled taking care of the basketball as well. La Salle isn't too far from winning some game against the better teams; the talent is clearly there. However late game mistakes and the inability to hit key shots late in games have dogged the Explorers all year. Charlotte offers a team with similar problems. La Salle is physically talented enough to play with the Niners. However, can their youth cut down mistakes and hit key shots in the last 5 minutes, especially if Harris does not play?

Keys to the game:
Win the battle of the boards
Control Alexander
Run as much as possible

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