CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Tuesday was the first official day for college basketball and a new era for the Charlotte 49ers as Ron Sanchez takes over as head coach.
On the first day of practice, there was not much talk about offense or shooting the basketball. Most of the chatter is about the work on the defensive end and with Sanchez’s background, you can understand why.
Sanchez spent the last nine years at Virginia as an assistant coach under Tony Bennett. Bennett is know for his defensive minded teams with their “pack line” defense and that defense is now being taught at Charlotte.
“We’re not letting anyone into the paint,” said senior center Jailian Haslem. “We are trying to keep the ball on the perimeter. There’s not going to be any easy penetration. Last year, that was a problem for us. If they are going to beat us, they are going to have to beat us on 3 point shots. No one on ones, everybody on the team is going to be helping out some way. It’s all about a team playing as one.
“I think it’s going to work,” said senior guard Jon Davis. “I think it is perfect for what we are trying to do.”
Davis and Haslem are the only seniors on this current 49ers team so it will be a young squad. Which is another reason why, defense will have to lead the way if this team is to get back to respectability.
Charlotte has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2005. After going 6-23 last season, the Niners didn’t even qualify for the Conference USA Tournament. Last season, average attendance at Halton Arena fell to just around 4 thousand fans per contest.
While most fans will want to put a number on the amount of wins this season and use that as a barometer as to whether this team succeeds or fails, coach Sanchez looks at things in a different way.
“I think you have to be competitive,” said coach Sanchez. “If they know you have a chance, they will show up. I think that it is going to have to start on the defensive end of the floor. It’s the only thing that is going to give us a chance to be competitive.”
The Niners will start the regular season on November 6th when they host Chattanooga.