Next Ten Days Are Critical For Charlotte

J SulahryContributor IDecember 15, 2008

The start to the 49ers' season could not have been uglier.

After opening up the season as expected against in-state opponent UNC Greensboro, the 49ers entered a painful six-game losing streak—their worst since the '85-'86 season.

Things would not get any easier for the 49ers, as the demoralized squad travelled to Carbondale to face a strong Southern Illinois team which has maintained an intimidating 95-7 home record since 1999.

Although Charlotte has dominated the series at 6-1, expectations and heads were hung low.

But the 49ers decided to turn it around. Sparked by the performance of Ian Andersen, who racked up 18 points in a flurry of threes, the 49ers went on to seal the deal at 66-64 at SIU Arena.

A few days later, Charlotte continued the upswing by dominating SEC foe Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum, after leading by as much as 20 points in the second half.

"When you lose a bunch of games, all of them close, you hope you learn something from that," said 49ers coach Bobby Lutz. "We regained our composure. It shows our team is improving."

Charlotte will have ten days to fully regain its composure. After a very busy and ugly start to the season, including a rough three games in four nights at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, the 49ers will have ten days to think about their season before returning home to host Youngstown State and Long Island.

The 49ers would be wise not to let up. Just around the corner is Maryland, followed by the start of conference play in a resurgent Atlantic-10 Conference that upset ranked Kansas and Tennessee this past week on national television.

Strong performances against Youngstown State and Long Island would give the 49ers the confidence they need to march into the second half of the season. Losses would throw the team off-balance and make it almost impossible to recover.

The 49ers have 10 days to decide what direction they want to go in.

Charlotte will restart play on December 21, when they host Youngstown State in Halton Arena.