Saturday, April 28, 2007

49ers' recruiting class among top 15

National college recruiting services are already taking note of the Charlotte 49ers' incoming class for next season and the early reviews are good.

HoopScoop, which updates its national rankings on a daily basis, has Charlotte's recruiting class ranked 13th in the country this week. The 49ers were ranked No. 23 then jumped 10 spots when they received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-7 forward Charlie Coley this week, ranked the top junior college power forward in the country by

Charlotte's 2000 recruiting class was ranked No. 15 in the country -- the previous high of any 49ers' class. And this year's recruiting class is not even complete yet.

The 49ers have one available scholarship remaining and the target for that last scholarship is 6-10 power forward/center Sean Carter, a senior at Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute. Carter, who played at Fayetteville 71st High before deciding to spend a year in prep school, will make an official visit next week at Charlotte. He should arrive on campus on Thursday.

Among the schools that have expressed interest in Carter are Atlantic 10 members George Washington, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne as well as Winthrop and UNC Wilmington.

Should Carter, who would be a freshman next season, join the 49ers, Charlotte could easily move into a top 10 recruiting class.

Right now, the 49ers will have eight new players next season: freshmen Javarris Barnett, An'Juan Wilderness and Gaby Ngoundjo; sophomores Dijuan Harris, Michael Gerrity and Phil Jones; and juniors Lamont Mack and Coley.

The Top 15 recruiting classes as ranked by HoopScoop:
1. Indiana
2. Southern Cal
3. Syracuse
4. Nebraska
5. Louisiana State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Florida
8. Arizona
9. Texas Tech
10. Duke
11. Ohio State
12. Memphis
13. Charlotte
14. DePaul
15. Purdue

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another "Tray" for Niners' Goldwire

Leemire Goldwire's busy off-season just got busier and noisier.

Goldwire, a junior shooting guard for the Charlotte 49ers, will celebrate his two-year wedding anniversary in July and he is working on wrapping up the spring semester with final exams.

Student, athlete, husband, what else is there? How about father?

Goldwire and his wife, Lakin, welcomed their first child on April 19 with the birth of their son, Leemire Goldwire III, who weighed in a 6 pounds 9 ounces. Both mother and son are doing well.

"Before having the baby, Lakin and I had already had a great relationship. We worked through arguments but with a marriage and school it was a lot of adjustments. Now, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world."

Goldwire III's nickname is "Tray," which prompted a question as to whether the name was influenced by his father's propensity at taking the 3-pointer.

"Nah," Goldwire said as he started to laugh. "It's only fitting because he is 'the third.' But it could work either way."

Goldwire said he is very excited about his upcoming final season at Charlotte.

"I can't wait for the season to start so all of us can get together and start playing," he said. Lamont (Mack) and Charlie (Coley) and DiJuan (Harris) are going to be great additions. We have big Phil (Jones). We're going to work hard, I will make sure of that."

Goldwire said he was relieved coach Bobby Lutz elected to remain with Charlotte, rather than take an offer from South Alabama.

"I am very glad he stayed. I did not want to play for anybody else and I told him that," Goldwire said. "I know the coach takes responsibility for the team, but it was the players that led to our bad season this year. We didn't take responsibility."

Monday, April 23, 2007

49ers all-sports awards

The Charlotte 49ers honored some of their own student athletes on Sunday night during the school's annual all-sports banquet. Here is a rundown of the winners (The 2007 baseball, softball, golf and outdoor track and field MVPs will be named at the completion of their seasons and honored at the 2008 Awards Banquet):

Academic Award Winners (athletes with the highest GPA over the previous two semesters):
Bonnie Cone Award (Female) Lamarra Currie (track and field); Jane Daniels (cross-country); Nicole Labuda (soccer); Lindsey Ozimek (soccer); Hugh McEniry Award (male) Matt Dobler (track and field); Aljoscha Jelinek (tennis).

MVP Award Winners:
Baseball, Mike Ambrose (2006 Award), 1st team all-A-10; Team-high .336 avg.; 16 doubles; 51 RBI; M. Basketball, Leemire Goldwire, 2nd in scoring; led A-10 in FT%; Surpassed 1000 points; W. Basketball, Sabrina Gregory, 3rd-team all-Atlantic 10; A-10 all-Defensive Team; Cheerleaders (small co-ed), Jazmin Skipper; Cheerleaders (large co-ed), Emily Waddington; M. Cross-Country, Adu Dentamo, 4th-place at A-10 Champs. (4th-best league finish ever); W. Cross-Country, Tsehaye Dagnachew, A-10 Runner-up (highest finish since 1999); Gold Duster Dance Team, Kelli Dover; Golf, TBA; M. Indoor Track and Field, Jason Moore, 55m A-10 Champ; 3 A-10 Athlete of the Week Awards; W. Indoor Track and Field, Shareese Woods, A-10 Performer of the Year; NCAA all-America (200); M. Soccer, Evan Harding, 1st-team all-Region; 1st team all-Atlantic 10; W. Soccer, Kelsie Ormsby, 3rd-team All-Region; 3rd team Academic All-America; Softball, 2006 Team (2006 Award), A-10 Champs; School-record 42 victories; M. Tennis, Roy Sichel, A-10 Player of the Year (2nd time); Ranked as high #39; W. Tennis, Ana Spivakovsky, School-record 26 Singles Wins; M. Outdoor Track and Field, Ben McCallum (2006 Award), 100 & 200 meter A-10 Champ; 4x100 Champ; W. Outdoor Track and Field, Shareese Woods (2006 Award), NCAA all-America (200); participated in 3 events at NCAA; Volleyball, Jessica Oldenburg, 13th member of 1000 Kill Club (1,172 - 8th all-time).

Special Recognition Award Winners:
M. Basketball, Hayward Memorial Grubstake, Ian Andersen; W. Basketball, Gold Nugget, Traci Ray; M. Cross-Country, Vincent Vernitsky, Ryan Jank; W. Track and Field, Vincent Vernitsky, Sharonda Johnson; M. Soccer, David Schlee, Michael Rose; W. Tennis, Wendi Cook, Koren Fleming; Volleyball, Coaches Award, Lynae Mulder.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bobby Lutz addresses 49ers fans, critics

An open letter from Bobby Lutz to the Charlotte 49ers family:

As many of you know, my name has surfaced in connections with the opening for head men's basketball coach at South Alabama. I am grateful for the confidence they had in my coaching abilities to consider me for such a good position. Based on my current contract situation at Charlotte, I owed it to myself, my family and my assistant coaches to listen to that opportunity.

Despite the contract situation, Charlotte is where I want to be and we have two years to get back to winning at the level we are accustomed to. When I was announced as head coach nine years ago, I said it was my dream job. It still is. I am proud to be the head basketball coach at Charlotte. This is where my heart is and always will be. This is home. And most importantly, this is where I want to leave my mark. When I finish my coaching career my goal is to remain at UNC Charlotte in some capacity.

I am accustomed to success, and make no mistake, we will be successful on and off the court. Our history here at the school speaks for itself. We have been to post-season play in the NCAA on numerous occasions and won conference championships and those days are coming again. My commitment level to those goals is stronger than ever.

Last year was not acceptable and no one was more disappointed in our record and performance than me. I take full responsibility for it. There are a number of factors that led to having a sub-par season, but each of them end with me. I was not happy, our players were not happy and I know our fans were not happy with our results. I also know that last year's performance was an exception to the normal success we have experienced during our time here.

I am excited and energized about our future because of what we have in place. We will turn it around quickly and I can't wait for the first practice, first scrimmage and first game next season. I have a group of players currently working incredibly hard during this off-season. They are committed to getting back to our winning ways while continuing to excel in class and in the community.

We have a great senior leader in Lee Goldwire who will lead us in every way. It is comforting to have such a natural worker and leader like Lee. Ian Andersen is working hard to expand his game and become a more complete player. Mike Gerrity will provide a quickness and toughness that is so needed. Jerrell Lewis has improved his consistency and practices with excellent effort. Sean Phaler continues to improve his defensive effort and can obviously shoot the basketball. Charles Dewhurst has totally recovered from his injury and provides a combination of athleticism, ability, and skill. Kyle Church is the perfect walk-on who competes every single day to make everyone else better. Phil Jones is concentrating on academics and strength and conditioning and can't wait to join the team.

When you add our signed recruits (we can only talk about those who have signed by NCAA rules) I can't help but get excited. Gaby Ngoundjo is a quick athletic post player who can run the floor and block shots. Anjuan Wilderness is a proven winner and extremely versatile player with a great basketball IQ. Javarris Barnett is a big wing shooter with great upside and he is from Charlotte. Our staff has us in excellent position to complete this recruiting class in the next couple weeks. They are working tirelessly and I appreciate their dedication to getting us back to winning. We are all on the same page.

There is a lot to be optimistic about in regards to UNC Charlotte and our athletic program. Our academic stature rises by the day. Our beautiful campus grows seemingly on a daily basis as new buildings are everywhere. We are exploring football. Women's soccer won the league title. Women's basketball went to another WNIT. The baseball and golf teams are nationally ranked and the men's tennis team is heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time. Men's basketball is going to be back on that list of things that our fans are proud of and pound their chests about. I promise you that.

There are a number of adjustments we are making and I will share a number of those things with you the fans over the coming weeks and months. Expect to see a lot of me throughout the campus and the community.

Speaking of our fans, I need you; our team needs you. Thank all of you, especially our season ticket holders and members of NINER NATION, for your past support. We have a great schedule this upcoming season which will be released later. At this point, we are hosting sweet sixteen Southern Illinois, Maryland, Wake Forest, Davidson and Appalachian State in addition to High Point and Gardner-Webb. We are playing in a terrific early season tournament and will have a number of great league games to look forward to. When Halton Arena is loud and filled, we are a tough team to beat as evidenced by our 10 home wins last season.

I am not a gambler by nature, but the bottom line is this. . . I AM ALL IN! PERIOD! I am not leaving any chips on the table. I am proud to be the basketball coach at Charlotte and I am all in. My family is all in. Our staff is all in. Our players are all in. And I am confident that our fans are going to join us and be all in as well.

For us, next season has already begun and we are ALL IN!

Bobby Lutz

Friday, April 13, 2007

Silence speaking volumes at Charlotte

Needless to say, it's been a wild couple of days if you are a Charlotte 49ers fan. First, men's basketball coach Bobby Lutz heads to Mobile, Ala., to interview for a job that on the surface appears to be a step down from his current position.

A day later, the women's coach, Amanda Butler, is on a chartered flight to Gainesville, Fla., interviewing for the head coaching position at Florida, her alma mater.

So far today, Butler has been offered the Florida job and accepted, while Lutz appears to have been offered the South Alabama job, but no decision is as yet forthcoming.

Although the two situations are in reality linked only by bad timing, they leave the impression there is more going on at Charlotte than simple coaching transitions. Indeed, the silence of the athletic department on Lutz's interest in the South Alabama job does nothing but foster more speculation as to the "real reason" he is interviewing.

Fair or not, "no comment" these days is almost the same as commenting because of the void it leaves. It basically says to people: "I'm not telling, you figure it out." Even if there is some rift between Lutz and the Charlotte administration, isn't his body of work over the past nine years -- seven winning seasons, seven postseason trips -- deserving of some kind comment or thanks?

I think so. I don't know if Lutz will leave, but I think Lutz and Charlotte will both be better off if a decision is made soon. The silence definitely speaks volumes. -- Jim Utter

Thursday, April 5, 2007

49ers looking for more juco prospects

The Charlotte 49ers are wasting no time in getting to work on filling the two available scholarships they have for next season, now that junior point guard Carlos Williams and freshman forward David Booker have elected to transfer.

At the moment the Charlotte coaching staff seems to have narrowed its focus to three available talented junior college players -- Charlie Coley, Schyler King and Ramon Clemente.

Coley is the fourth ranked juco in the country by, a recruiting Web site for junior college players. The 6-foot-7 small forward for Dodge City (Kan.) Community College averaged 11.7 points and 10 rebounds for his team, which finished the year 26-6 and won the Jayhawk Western Conference for the second straight season.

King, a 6-6, 197-pound 3-point ace for Tyler (Texas) Junior College averaged nearly 12 points a game this season and shot nearly 37 percent from 3-point range.

Clemente, a 6-6, 225-pound forward for Paris (Texas) Junior College, is ranked 23rd nationally and averaged 13.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He also shot 54.8 percent from the field.

Coley was originally going to make an official visit to campus this weekend, but timing issues have put off his visit until likely the weekend of April 20-22. Clemente has not yet agreed to make a visit, but the coaching staff expects an answer soon. -- Jim Utter

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Lutz on shooting the 3

I had an extensive interview with Charlotte 49ers coach Bobby Lutz recently and have been sharing some of his responses on a number of topics relevant to Charlotte and its athletic programs.


Do you think you rely too much on the 3-pointer?

Lutz: "A lot of people say that. What we try to do is get the best shots available for whatever the makeup of our team is. Again, if you look, our 2-point shooting percentage wasn’t very good. Maybe we did shoot a few too many 3s at certain times, but at other times we may not have shot enough because of the makeup of our team.

"If you can get a great low post scorer, you need to take advantage of that. Those guys are really hard to get, and we do our best to develop them. We’ve had more success when we’ve had teams that attack the basket. This year I don’t think 3-point shooting was the reason we lost games. It was because we couldn’t stop people at key times.

"We finished second in the league last year, second in Conference USA the year before, finished first the year before that. It’s not like we’ve had bad years in a row. If you look at those teams, we also shot a lot of 3s, but we also attacked the basket and got fouled. We had guys who could do that – Eddie (Basden) and Curt (Withers) in particular. We had balance."

Was that balance missing this season?

Lutz: "It was missing. Part of that, however, was our inability to consistently score if we threw it inside. Antwon (Coleman) was hurt and got in foul trouble. Courtney (Williams) struggled to score around the basket. E.J. had some moments of being great, but he also struggled at the foul line. E.J. ended up being the guy we kept going to as much as possible. We may have relied a lot on the 3, but it was at least somewhat out of necessity to have the best chance to win games."
-- Jim Utter