Charlotte beat Old Dominion in a battle of undefeateds in the early league season 53-47 on Saturday. It was a slow game, filled with defense and missed shots. Charlotte’s head coach Ron Sanchez is famously a Bennett disciple and thinks defense first and patient offense is the name of the game.
He could not go full-Virginia for a number of reasons but he has the pack-line defense installed and an emphasis on good offense there, even if there is no blocker-mover system. Instead we see the 4-out-1 offense, with the emphasis on motion and spacing. Charlotte post man Amidou Bamba is a tough screen-setting guy who has been perfect in his role so far. He is tough defensively, and sets the hard screens that make the offense hum.
Transfer Jordan Shepherd is the go-to offensive guy but it was Drew Edwards and his shooting the pushed the 49ers over the top vs ODU. The Monarchs could not hit anything and outside of a little run early in the 2nd half, they had a tough time scoring against the Charlotte defense.
This season they look like the team that they wanted to be when they went out and hired the Virginia lead assistant: defensively intense, patient on offense. The 49ers were second to last in defensive efficiency last season and lead the conference so far in this one. The offense has not improved — not that it was amazing even with scorer Jon Davis last season. Bamba is a nice passer but is not going to wow anyone inside with his post arsenal. Milos Supica has been coming off the bench and is the better scorer, but not as good defensively or as great of a screener.
Charlotte has been finding its balance against the lower half of the league. Any team that can do one thing well has the potential to be really good, and beat teams that are better. Do not expect to see Charlotte reigning atop the league for much longer, but they soon will be making noise in this league.