Ajukwa and the 49ers look to break a two game slide on Saturday at ODU. PHOTO CREDIT: Charlotte Sports Information

Schedule provides 49ers with rare late season chance

Losers of two straight and four of their last five, Charlotte 49ers head coach Mark Price stated at his Tuesday press conference that his squad would “try to clean some stuff up, both offensively and defensively.”

A break in the schedule provides the 49ers (11–13, 5–8) an extra practice day since they are not scheduled to play the Thursday portion of Conference USA’s weekly slate.

The final game of their three game road trip will be at Old Dominion, a team they defeated in January at Charlotte thanks to a strong performance from sophomore point guard Jon Davis.

If the 49ers want to snap their losing streak against the Monarchs (15–10, 8–5) and finish the stretch on a high note, Price knows that they must take advantage of the practice time they have.

“We need to have some really good focused practices, even breaking some things down more than we normally would just to try to clean up some things and do some things better,” Price said.

According to Price, one area of focus will be on the team’s offensive spacing. “I think our spacing offensively has slipped a little bit,” Price said after being asked what stood out on film. “We gotta do a better job of getting to our spots and not making it as easy on the [opposing] defense. I felt like at times our spacing hurt our ability to penetrate [opponents] defense because we weren’t spaced.”

In their last two games, the 49ers are 12-for-46 (26 percent) from 3-point range. Against Middle Tennessee, Davis failed to log a single assist for the first time all season.

Defensively, Price wants his team to continue to develop. “I think we’ve made some real positive steps defensively [in] our focus on trying to improve rebounding as a team,” said Price. Against UAB, the 49ers were walloped on the boards as evidenced by a minus 22 margin. Against Middle Tennessee, that margin was trimmed to minus six. Additionally, each 49er that played grabbed at least one rebound.

With the extra day, Price and his staff gave the team Sunday and Monday off so his team could mend their legs.

One player who may benefit from the elongated time off is senior forward Anthony Vanhook. He only played 23 combined minutes against UAB and Middle Tennessee due to an injured left shoulder. “I think last week was a struggle for him obviously,” said Price. “The first week back after having it, I think there’s always a little bit of maybe hesitation there or trepidation of getting it hit again. He plays a position where’s there’s a lot of banging going on and we were playing a couple of teams that are pretty physical.”

Price listed Vanhook as day-to-day.

“It’s something we can’t really fix right at the moment,” said Price. “I think for him it’s good that we’re having this extra time this week to hopefully…get him as healthy and as confident again because he’s an important part obviously of what we do.”