You’ve read the recap. Now, let’s go inside the numbers of Charlotte’s nail-biting victory over Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon.
- My esteemed colleague David Scott of the Charlotte Observer asked Ron Sanchez about the lesson learned from today’s game — you’ll recall I mentioned learning lessons in the gamer — and Sanchez replied with a sly, “I’ve gotta watch the film to tell you that one,” and a laugh. He did add a solid nugget thereafter, though:
“When you have an inexperienced group that doesn’t have a lot of experiences together, the emotions of games impact — just how you make certain mistakes. We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch, and you could see it. It was (from) some of the guys that we trust more. We’ll grow. They know when it happens. You can just see it in their faces. They understand that an error was made.
“We’ve gotta make sure that we can stay the course. We always say (that) you’ve gotta be faithful to what you do … We have to learn not to get out of our plan, just because things aren’t going the way we anticipated. The ‘what-ifs’ are part of the game. You have to know how to manage those.” – Sanchez
- Charlotte shot 24-of-38 from the free throw line, which doesn’t sound drastic; however, the 49ers connected on just 10-of-19 in the second half. A lot of those misses helped keep Middle Tennessee in the game, and the Blue Raiders very nearly made Charlotte pay. Sanchez noticed.
“We’ve got to continue to get better from the free throw line. I think we left a lot of points on the board.” – Sanchez
- Sanchez has clearly reached the boiling point with negative adjectives being used to describe victories. He had a somewhat terse exchange — nothing personal, it didn’t seem, just terse — with a reporter who asked a question after the game.
REPORTER: “Coach, a win’s a win…probably not the prettiest of wins, but–”
SANCHEZ: “Stop saying that. Stop saying that. Every win is pretty, especially in this building. Okay? Not the prettiest, not the sexiest. It’s a ‘W’. Stop saying ‘pretty wins’, ‘not a sexy win’, okay? I don’t want to hear any of those questions anymore. Every ‘W’ for this team is a sexy win, and it’s a good win.”
- The thing that has struck me with Sanchez over the time he’s been with Charlotte is that he plays the “long game”, perhaps better than any other coach I’ve ever met. That’s got to be one of the reasons he got the job. He knows that one game or one series here or there will not dictate the future, but it’s a piece toward dictating the future. He voiced some more of that sentiment after Saturday’s game:
“This team is on a journey. Every bit of success we have, we have to celebrate it. These guys are battling. They’re battling their tails off. You can see it. They get hit by screens. They dive on the floor. That is poetic to me. Sincerely. When those guys are so bought-in to what this staff is preaching, and what they’re doing, and how they represent those colors on the floor … for me, as the person in charge of trying to put this thing together, it really is, it’s so enjoyable. It is beautiful to me.” – Sanchez
- Guard Jordan Shepherd appears ready to come back against ODU next Saturday after missing the first two conference games due to injury — a bit of news that was inadvertently broken by his replacement in the lineup, Cooper Robb — but do not underestimate the impact Robb has on this team. Robb scored 10 points and snared six boards in Saturday’s game, showing, as Sanchez asserted, he “prepares like a starter” however the lineup card reads. The sophomore Kentucky native brings a palpable toughness to this team.
- Middle Tennessee committed 30 fouls. The Blue Raiders were whistled for 15 in each half. Amazingly, no Blue Raiders fouled out; perhaps even more amazingly, every Blue Raider who played had three or more fouls, except one. Forward Tyler Millin registered just two fouls, logging 20 minutes off the bench.
- Let’s head over to the Hustle Stats:
- Points in the Paint: Charlotte 26, Middle Tennessee 16
- Points off Turnovers: Middle Tennessee 21, Charlotte 16
- Second-Chance Points: Charlotte 8, Middle Tennessee 5
- Fast-Break Points: Charlotte 5, Middle Tennessee 3
- Bench Points: Charlotte 17, Middle Tennessee 11
CHARLOTTE 68, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 62
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (4-11, 0-2 C-USA): Millner 2-8 0-0 5, Scurry 2-2 0-0 4, Sims 7-12 3-4 20, Johnson 3-7 0-2 6, Jones 6-12 2-2 16, Millin 0-2 1-2 1, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Lawrence 0-3 0-0 0, Green 3-7 2-2 10. Totals 23-53 8-12 62.
CHARLOTTE (3-4): Bamba 5-5 1-2 11, Young 4-8 7-10 15, Robb 3-9 4-7 10, Martin 3-6 2-3 10, Edwards 1-7 3-6 5, Supica 1-2 1-2 3, Bertram 0-0 0-0 0, Vasic 3-4 6-8 14. Totals 20-41 24-38 68.
Halftime — Charlotte 38-21. 3-Point Goals—Middle Tennessee 8-24 (Millner 1-3, Sims 3-6, Jones 2-6, Millin 0-2, Lawrence 0-3, Green 2-4), Charlotte 4-8 (Young 0-2, Robb 0-1, Martin 2-2, Vasic 2-3). Fouled Out — NA. Rebounds —Middle Tennessee 30 (Millner/Johnson 6), Charlotte 30 (Robb 6). Assists —Charlotte 13 (Young 5), Middle Tennessee 12 (Sims 5). Total Fouls — Middle Tennessee 30, Charlotte 14. Technical — NA. A —3538.