Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's game time, finally!

The Charlotte 49ers finished their final full practice Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday night’s exhibition at Halton Arena.
The starting lineup against Ottawa is likely to look like this: Phil Jones (center), Leemire Goldwire (point guard), Lamont Mack (forward), An’Juan Wilderness (forward) and either Charles Dewhurst or Ian Andersen at shooting guard. During a recent intrasquad scrimmage, Dewhurst and freshman Gaby Ngoundjo got rave reviews.
Other possible last-minute additions to the starting lineup could be Charlie Coley for Mack and starting sophomore DiJuan Harris at point guard.
Coach Bobby Lutz said his players were ready to play against "someone other than each other."
"We’re going to try to win the game, but we’re going to look at as many guys and as many different combinations as possible," he said. "Ottawa will dictate some of that since they have already played seven or eight games this month alone.
"We want to come out of it with a positive. The first goal is to win, but it’s also to evaluate lineups as the flow of the game allows."

Wanna see Gerrity? You'll have to wait

Charlotte 49ers men's basketball fans are going to have to wait to get a long look at Pepperdine transfer Michael Gerrity.

Although the sophomore point guard appeared in the eight-minute scrimmage as part of Basketball Madness, he is not allowed to participate in Charlotte's exhibition game with Ottawa on Wednesday night.

Gerrity has been allowed to practice with the team since arriving last semester but cannot play in games until the conclusion of the current semester. That will make him eligible either for the Dec. 15 game at Hofstra or the Dec. 18 game at Tulsa depending on when final grades are posted.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Big weeks for Minnix, Shull

Some notable Charlotte 49ers accomplishments this week:

-- Freshman defender Megan Minnix of Columbus, Ohio, was named Atlantic 10 women’s soccer rookie of the week for her performance against Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Minnix scored her first career goal, which proved to be the game-winner, in the 49ers’ 1-0 win against Massachusetts on Friday.

-- Freshman midfielder Will Shull, who played at Shelby High, was named Atlantic 10 men’s soccer rookie of the week for his performance in the 49ers’ A-10 road wins at George Washington and Richmond this past weekend.

Shull assisted on the 49ers’ first goal and then scored Charlotte’s second goal in its 3-0 win at George Washington on Friday. Then, he assisted on the 49ers’ second goal in their 2-0 win at Richmond on Sunday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Q&A with Niners B-ball coaches

As part of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Media Day, fans of each school were able to submit questions for the men's and women's basketball coaches. Several questions were submitted by Charlotte 49ers fans.

Here are the questions submitted and answered for Charlotte women's coach Karen Aston:

-- Do you think your team got a head start on the competition after playing together over the summer for USA Basketball? Aston: "I wouldn't say it was a head start. If anything it was more of a catching up process with our staff being new and beginning an entirely new system. I think it was just a sounding board for how they were going to handle each other and how they would get to know me. I think that was the biggest advantage of going to Bangkok, other than the experience of it all." -- Submitted by Jackie, Concord, NC

-- You return a lot of talented and experienced players from last year. How have the newcomers, including the coaches, blended in with the veterans?

Aston: "Everybody is blending in very well. There's obviously a learning-curve where the players have to learn my style and I have to learn what they can and can't do best. Newcomers are having typical freshman growing pains. They have good days, they have bad days like all freshman do. I don't think it's been anything different for them because they're new to being with us. Seniors and juniors are the ones having to make the biggest changes because for a couple of them, this is their third coach so I think they're tying their best. They're seniors and this is their last shot." --Submitted by Travis, Gastonia, NC

-- How has your experience at Charlotte been thus far?

Aston: "It's been fast and furious. I had to hit the ground running with recruiting and of course for the trip to Bangkok, we were gone for three weeks in August and got back the day we started school. I've really enjoyed the city of Charlotte. It is a tremendous environment to live in with things to do and lots of opportunities for young women who are growing into professionals. I've enjoyed the coaching part the most. That's why I wanted to be a head coach and just the opportunity to get to go and practice every day has been the best part for me." -- Submitted by Kelly, Charlotte, NC

-- Here are the questions asked to men's coach Bobby Lutz. How much will your challenging non-conference schedule prepare your young team for conference play?

Lutz: "As good as our league is, and the A-10 is great this year, we're playing a non-conference schedule that will likely be rated in the top 50 non-conference schedules in the country. It's a double-edged sword. It's dangerous to play such a difficult schedule because if you get beat up, it's tough to keep your kids confident enough. On the other hand, if you don't play a tough schedule, you'd don't prepare as a team as well. We've chosen to take the challenging path. We're going to have to patient with our young guys, but they'll grow up. We certainly feel like we can win more than we lose and be in a position in A-10 play where we can be successful." --Submitted by Caitlin, Winston-Salem, NC

-- The A-10 looks to be much improved from top to bottom. Who is your pick to win the league and how many teams do you think will have a legitimate shot taking the crown?

Lutz: "I think you could pick Xavier to win the league, based on what they've done and who they're returning. But I honestly think there are seven or eight teams in the league that could do it. Anyone could emerge. This could be a year where you've got a bunch of teams with four-six losses or you could see one or two teams emerge. I think the depth and balance of our league has been the best it's every been in our three years in the A-10." -- Submitted by Doug, Jamestown, NC

The complete list of questions and answers are available on the Atlantic 10 Website, at http://atlantic10.cstv.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catching up with some 49ers athletes ...

-- Pepperdine transfer Michael Gerrity, who is expected to start at point guard for the men’s basketball team when he becomes eligible in December, is ranked ninth among College Hoops Update’s Top 15 incoming transfers in NCAA Division I this season.
The 6-foot-180-pound sophomore averaged 14.1 points and 3.4 assists per game for Pepperdine as a freshman and was named CBSportsline.com’s rookie of the year in the West Coast Conference.
Gerrity was one of four Atlantic 10 players on the Top 15 list. Leading the way in the top position is Duquesne junior center Shawn James, a transfer from Northeastern. Duquesne junior point guard Kojo Mensah, a transfer from Siena, is ranked third. Xavier’s C.J. Anderson, a junior forward and transfer from Manhatten, is ranked fourth.

-- Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer sophomore midfielder Luke Exley was named to College Soccer News’ national team of the week for his performance against Rhode Island and Massachusetts last weekend. He is the first Charlotte player to earn national team of the week honors since goalkeeper David Martin was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s weekly national team in September 2006.
Exley scored the 49ers’ goal in a 1-1 double-overtime tie with Rhode Island and assisted on the winning goal in a 1-0 win against previously undefeated Massachusetts last weekend.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guard Barnett takes elbow to nose

Charlotte 49ers freshman shooting guard Javarris Barnett became the first casualty of the preseason, taking an elbow to his nose during Tuesday's practice while practicing half court defense drills.

Upon first examination it appeared Barnett had broken his nose. He was planning to be evaluated again later Tuesday evening.

Barnett, who played at Charlotte's Victory Christian, had already made good progress and has had some unintended improvement as well. He arrived on campus measuring at 6-foot-5 and weighing about 200 pounds.

Two months into his freshman year, Barnett has had another growth spurt and strength and conditioning coach Preston Greene said the 18-year-old was already pushing 6-7. Greene was planning to take an official measurement on Wednesday.

Before his incident on Tuesday, Barnett appeared to be playing well, working hard on defense and hitting open 3-pointers when the opportunity arose.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Notable Niners in soccer

Some kudos to Charlotte 49ers soccer players this week:

-- Charlotte junior forward Nikki Dumencich was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for her performance in the 49ers' road win at Dayton on Sunday. Dumencich scored both of Charlotte's goals in its 2-1 win at Dayton.

-- Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer goalkeeper David Martin, a sophomore from Timnath, Colo., was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week after his performance against Rhode Island and Massachusetts this past weekend.
Martin allowed only one goal and recorded eight saves in the 49ers' 1-1 overtime tie with Rhode Island and collected his 11th career shutout with six saves in Charlotte's 1-0 win over Massachusetts on Sunday.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Coley catches some air

Junior Charlie Coley stole the show at the UNC Charlotte Bookstore 2007 Basketball Madness, Thursday night at Halton Arena. Coley showed off his jumping ability yet again, celebrating his victory in the event's annual Slam Dunk Contest by jumping over a chair on top of a table for a memorable dunk.

-- Photo courtesy of Charlotte 49ers Sports Information Office.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vote Ozimek for Lowe's Senior Class Award

Charlotte 49ers fans can help one of their own win a prestigious award this season.

Lindsey Ozimek, a senior midfielder on the 49ers' women's soccer team, has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award, the nation’s premier award for NCAA senior student-athletes.

The 10 finalists are placed on the Lowe’s Senior Class Award ballot for a nationwide vote which started Wednesday and concludes Nov. 21. Fan balloting is available at the award’s official Web site, www.seniorclassaward.com. Fan votes will be combined with those from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award.

In the last year, Ozimek has been named first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, first-team All-Atlantic 10, 2006 Atlantic 10 All-Tournament team, A-10 Academic All-Conference team, NSCAA/adidas Scholar All-South region team, NSCAA All-Southeast Region second-team and Soccer Buzz All-Southeast Region third-team.

The Lowe’s Senior Class Award is presented annually in eight NCAA Division I sports to senior student-athletes who have outstanding attributes in four areas: the classroom, community, character and competition. Winners will be announced during the NCAA Soccer Championships, Dec. 7-9 in College Station, Texas.

Women's freshman Sam Huecker receives soccer recognition

Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer freshman midfielder Sam Huecker was named to Soccer Buzz’s Elite Team of the Week after scoring four of Charlotte’s five goals last weekend.

She also earned Atlantic 10 Player and Rookie of the Week honors.

Huecker is the second 49er to be named to Soccer Buzz’s Elite Team of the Week this season. Senior midfielder Lindsey Ozimek was named to the team, Oct. 2.

Currently, Huecker is second on the team with 15 points (five goals and five assists) behind Ozimek’s 18 points.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top recruit to visit B-ball Madness

Charlotte is getting an unexpected guest at Thursday's "Basketball Madness" event at Halton Arena.

Karron Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward who attends Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham and currently ranked sixth overall in the Class of 2009 by recruiting Web site rivals.com, plans to make an unofficial visit to Charlotte on Thursday, his AAU coach confirmed Tuesday night.

Johnson, who has already received offers from Virginia, Memphis and Louisiana State, is rated the No. 1 small forward among high school juniors.

Johnson, 17, hails from Richmond, Va., and has played for the Squires Richmond AAU team and coach Tony Squire since he was 13. Charlotte assistant basketball coach Chris Cheeks, a former star at Virginia Commonwealth, is friends with Squire.

"I told Karron he needs to keep his options wide open," Squire said. "I told him to go out and take a look at teams and coaches and their styles and think about what he likes and what would work for him."

Squire said his relationship with Cheeks is part of the reason he thinks the visit to Charlotte would be a smart one for Johnson.

"I've known Chris since he was up here playing at VCU. You know, for the most part, a lot of these kids don't know much about these schools when you get down to it," Squire said. "Having someone who is from the area certainly makes it easier to make a connection."

But could a player of Johnson's stature really come to Charlotte?

"Of course." Squire said. "Stranger things have happened."

Squire said Cheeks, then an assistant at West Virginia, lured away another one of Squire's players, Jonathan Hargett, in 2002.

The Richmond Squires have a long history of talented players, including Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Marco Killingsworth, among others.

Johnson had hoped to attend Georgetown's "Midnight Madness" basketball event last week, but was unable to make travel arrangements in time, Squire said.

"I know he has practice starting up this week at Mount Zion, but when we spoke today he was still planning to make the 2 1/2 drive down on Thursday," he said.

Share your thoughts on Alumni football meeting

I'd like people to share their thoughts on last night's Alumni House meeting about the football initiative. Here's one, please post yours in the comments section or e-mail them to me at jutter@charlotteobserver.com.

From Ron Dibble of Belmont (Class of 1996):

"I do think that the process last night was helpful. It showed me that this is not a cause that only the young alumni care about. Looking at those who attended this is clearly a subject that all alumni see as something important to the future of the university. It also pleased me that the feeling in the meeting was very pro-football. I really get the feeling at these meetings (I went to some of the committee meetings this summer) are about digging up potential obstacles now so that when we do make the push we do it with our eyes open and prepared for the challenge with out any surprises. I was prepared last night to hear some negative thoughts around football, but surprisingly heard none. It seemed everyone there knew that football will be a challenge and it will take support from many areas to make it happen, but that we all understand how important this is for the school.
"At the end of the evening they asked that each one of us record our thoughts about football on a card that the committee would read at a later time. I really felt this was an excellent way of taking the pulse of your core group of alumni. They also mentioned that the format we used would be used for 2 more meetings, one with students and the other with faculty. I am anxious to see how those play out.
"I may be off base here, but barring something crazy happening I truly believe that seeing the Niners on a football field is no longer a foolish dream."

From Kenny Houck in Pineville, a Charlotte Football Initiative Member and former candidate for N.H. House district No. 107 in 2004:

"I was impressed by the more elder, more established Alumni showing up, & being so supportive. I'm glad to know it's not just us youngsters out there. We even picked up a bandwagoner of a guy I knew in college who thought football had no chance at Charlotte, who is now on board since the school announced a Study Committee. The meeting made it seem like the school & Athletic Dept. are really serious about getting us football so we don't get left behind at the next conference realignment like we were this time with the A-10 after getting run out of Conference USA for not having football."


From Bill Dye, Unionville in Union County:

"I really enjoyed the meeting and appreciated the chance to a tleast 'be involved' in this process which I feel is absolutely critical in the development of this university. I was very impressed with Mac Everett (as I expected I would be) and left feeling VERY positive about the committee's work to this point. I hope that the meeting was helpful to the committee. It appeared to me that it was obvious that the VAST majority of alumni are strongly in favor of starting a football program at UNC Charlotte and feel it is exactly what the school needs to help it connect with it's alumni, the city of Charlotte and the region.

"The results of these "connections" would be multi-faceted, but most importantly (it is believed) would be increased giving from alumni and friends of the university, as well as additional opportunities to partner with many more of the local corporations through sponsorships and naming rights(especially the ones with UNC Charlotte alumni in leadership positions--BofA and Lowes, etc.). These relationships would help to promote the school/teams and put them more into the public eye in the city/region. All of these factors would benefit the university, the alumni, the city and the region."


Kevin Harward of Cornelius:
"I thought it was a very positive experience. I thought the attendance was good. They even had to bring in more tables once the meeting started. It was great to be on campus talking about Charlotte 49er Football with some of the leaders of the sports community in Charlotte. They broke us up into groups and we had discussions on Level of Competition, Funding Sources, Facilities, and Other Considerations. All of our thoughts were recorded and will be compiled and presented to the Feasibility Committee. I walked away feeling very positive about adding football at Charlotte and glad that our thoughts were heard. This is honestly the most excited I have been about my alma mater since I graduated."

More to come.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Niners golfer ranked 29th

Charlotte 49ers senior golfer Jonas Enander Hedin (Taby, Sweden) is ranked 29th in the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews World Amatuer Rankings.

Enander Hedin, who led the 49ers to a third-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships with a 71.86 stroke average, has keyed the 49ers' run to their present No. 1 ranking.

“It’s terrific to see Jonas receive the accolades and acknowledgement from such an esteemed and world-renowned body in the world of golf,” said Charlotte coach Jamie Green. “It’s a long time coming for Jonas, who works so tirelessly in all areas.

"He plays with such maturity and poise and has taken his game to quite a high level. That said, I know he’ll continue to seek and find more ways to improve.”

In two events this fall, Enander Hedin owns a 69.7 stroke average. Charlotte is ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the Golfweek and Golfstat computer ratings.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Niners excel in the classroom

Nine members of the 2006-07 Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team posted a GPA of 3.0 or higher during one or more semesters in 2006-07. Ian Andersen and E.J. Drayton both posted perfect 4.0 GPA’s during the spring, 2007 semester. In addition, with two members of the senior class graduating, Charlotte has now graduated 10 of its last 14 seniors.

Ian Andersen (Fall, ‘06; Spr. ‘07), Kyle Church (Fall, ‘06; Spr., ‘07), E.J. Drayton (Spr., ‘07), Travis Gordon (Fall, ‘06; Spr. ‘07) all earned mention on the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for posting GPA’s of 3.5 or higher during a semester.

In addition, Charles Dewhurst, Michael Gerrity, Jerell Jamison and Sean Phaler all posted GPA’s over a 3.0 in the spring semester and Dewhurst and David Booker posted GPA’s of 3.0 or higher in the fall semester.

Gordon and Drayton both graduated and Jamison is enrolled and expected to graduate in December. Over the past three years, 10 of the 49ers 14 seniors have graduated, including former C-USA Player of the Year Eddie Basden and three-time first team all-conference choice Curtis Withers.

Curtis Nash, who completed his career in 2003, also graduated this year, giving Charlotte 13 graduates among its 19 seniors over the last five years.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Soccer forward gets A-10 honor

Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer junior forward Chris Salvaggione was named Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week after scoring two goals and assisting on the other goal in the 49ers 3-0 win at Central Florida last Wednesday.

Salvaggione is the third 49ers player to claim A-10 Player of the Week honors this season. Senior forward Tom Woollard, who claimed the honor last week, and sophomore midfielder Luke Exley, who claimed the honor earlier this season, are the others.

Salvaggione leads the Atlantic 10 in assists with six and points with 16. He is tied for second in the A-10 with a team-leading five goals.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Idle Niners remain No. 1 in golf

The Charlotte 49ers golf team, idle this past week, maintained its No. 1 ranking in the Golfweek/Sagarin ranking system. In addition, Golfstat published its first ranking for the year and also tabbed Charlotte as the No. 1 team in the country.

The Charlotte 49ers golf team has placed first in both of its season-opening events, capturing the Scenic City Invitational by six strokes and the PING/Golfweek Preview by four strokes. The victory at the PING/Golfweek Preview catapaulted the 49ers to No. 1 in the nation, the highest ranking by a 49ers athletic team.

Charlotte is back in action at The Prestige in La Quinta, Calif., Oct. 15-16. The best chance for fans to catch a glimpse of the 49ers this fall is at the Callaway National Match Play tournament in Greensboro, Ga., Oct. 28-30.

The golf season runs throughout the academic year and although the NCAA Golf Championships and conference championships are held in the spring semester, competitions in the fall count toward NCAA Tournament selection.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ozimek's play earns her honors

Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer senior midfielder Lindsey Ozimek was named to Soccer Buzz’s Elite Team of the Week after scoring three goals and recording two assists in the 49ers two Atlantic 10 games this past weekend.

This is the third time in her career that she earned this honor since she was named twice to Soccer Buzz’s Elite Team of the Week in 2005. She also earned her third career Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honor this week as well.

Ozimek contributed on four of Charlotte’s five goals in its 5-0 Atlantic 10 season opening win at Duquesne last Friday. She scored the 49ers' first and third goals in the game. She assisted on the 49ers' second and fifth goals in the game as well. She also scored the game-tying goal with just under eight minutes left in regulation in the 49ers' 1-1 double overtime tie with Fordham last Sunday.

Ozimek currently leads the 49ers and ranks fourth in the A-10 with five assists. She also leads the team with 13 points and ranks second on the team with four goals.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Niners sweep soccer awards

The Charlotte 49ers made a clean sweep of the Atlantic 10 player of the week awards in men's and women's soccer.

Senior midfielder Lindsey Ozimek was named A-10 player of the week after scoring three goals and recording two assists in the 49ers' two Atlantic 10 games last weekend.

Ozimek contributed on four of Charlotte's five goals in a 5-0 win at Duquesne last Friday. She assisted on the 49ers' second and fifth goals in the game. She also scored the game-tying goal in the 49ers' 1-1 double overtime tie with Fordham on Sunday.

Charlotte 49ers senior forward Tom Woollard was named A-10 men's co-player of the week after scoring two goals including the game-winner in the 49ers' 4-0 win at Appalachian State last Saturday.

Woollard collected his first career multiple-goal game when he scored the Charlotte's first two goals in its victory at Appalachian State, stopping the Mountaineers' eight match unbeaten streak. Woollard missed the 49ers' first four games of the season recovering from an injury.