Tuesday was the first time I have seen the Charlotte 49ers play in person this season, and I guess I didn't catch them on a very good day. A 42-point defeat at the hands of Duke was the subject of my column in Wednesday's paper, which you can also find here.
Like so many teams before them, Charlotte got flustered early by Duke's pressure. It's easy to say, "Well, just cut backdoor, Duke overplays everyone." But it takes a bunch of athletes to be able to do that effectively -- athletes at the top of their game. Charlotte has a few big-time athletes, but not as many as the Blue Devils, and other than Shamari Spears, no 49er was close to the top of his game Tuesday.
Speaking of Spears, though, he may be a poor man's Charles Barkley for the 49ers this season. He's got a nice touch around the basket and although undersized to play power forward in terms of height, he uses his weight well to work his way around the basket. He's the biggest reason the 49ers, while embarrassed Tuesday, will be an improved team after last season's 11-20 debacle.
11 months ago