Over Christmas break, students get to enjoy some off time with their families and friends after a long fall semester and a week full of exams. For student-athletes, it’s a different story. The men’s and women’s basketball team members stay on-campus to practice and get better over break, same as Thanksgiving break.
Over exam week, the men play a game at Chattanooga on Dec. 10. After that, they’ll have a little over a week off before their first of five games over Christmas break. Their schedule is as follows:
- 12/18 – @ ECU
- 12/21 – @ USF
- 12/30 – @ Old Dominion
- 1/4 – @ North Texas
- 1/6 – @ Rice
This six-game road trip is going to be a tough test for the team, with conference play beginning on Dec. 30 when they take on Old Dominion. At 3-5, the men’s team has to get hot over the next couple of games before starting conference play.
In his post-game press conference after the game against Wake Forest, coach Mark Price said, “We have to get our older group, our returning guys, playing better. It’s baffling right now. We have to find a way to get everybody going. It’s a struggle right now.”
You could hear the frustration in his voice. Guys that produced efficiently last year, including forward Austin Ajukwa and guard Jon Davis, just aren’t there this year.
Ajukwa was the second-leading scorer from last season at 11.4 points per game and is only averaging 6.6 points per game so far this year. Davis is also in a bit of a slump this season, averaging only 14.3 points per game as opposed to 19.6 last season. However, Davis could turn it around in C-USA contests. Last season against Old Dominion he poured in a career-high 35 points, including a game-winning jump shot. Following that performance, he was named Conference USA Player of the Week. Hopefully he can bring that same intensity and results this year.
When they aren’t playing in games, they’re practicing for them. After the 49ers’ loss to Wake Forest on Dec. 5, coach Price said simply, “We’re just not playing good basketball right now.” The team looked sloppy and almost lost in the contest. They had 20 turnovers compared to only seven assists. They’ll have to start moving and controlling the ball better if they want to win games.
Over exam week, the women will also play a game, but their contest is on Dec. 7 against Arkansas. After, they’ll have 10 days off before their first of six games over the holiday break. Their schedule is as follows:
- 12/18 – @ Wake Forest
- 12/21 – @ Davidson
- 12/28 – vs. South Carolina State
- 12/30 – vs. Mercer
- 1/4 – vs. Southern Miss
- 1/6 @ Old Dominion
The men aren’t so lucky, but the women get a nice three-game homestand over their break. It will be nice for them to have a couple of games at home over the holiday. The women’s basketball team is currently 2-1 at home this season and will look to improve on that moving forward. They’ve struggled a little bit outside of Halton Arena, with a combined 1-4 away/neutral-site record. They open up their conference schedule on the road, so they’ll have to figure things out before then if they’re going to be successful.
The women need to trust in Coach Consuegra’s “team-first” identity and ride their preseason All-Conference USA forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers. Jamison-Myers, along with leading rebounder Dara Pearson, are a force down-low together, but they’ve got to help buckle down on the defensive end. The 49ers average 64.1 points per game while their opponents average 66.4. The difference in a win and a loss can be one defensive possession, so Charlotte has to stay disciplined and take it one play at a time.