Friday, November 30, 2007

Harris emerges as solid threat at point guard

There's been a lot of talk about point guard Michael Gerrity, a transfer from Pepperdine who will join the 49ers next month at the conclusion of the fall semester.

By all accounts, Gerrity should make an immediate impact on the team and his arrival is much anticipated.

But Thursday night, long after Charlotte had handed Wake Forest its first loss of the season in a 63-59 victory at Bobcats Arena, the point guard most talked about was the one already on the court for the 49ers - DiJuan Harris (pictured at right).

Listen to the compliment from Wake coach Dino Gaudio: "The other young man who had a very good day and deserves a lot of credit for Charlotte's win is (DiJuan) Harris. Three of the games they've played I don't think he's attempted a shot. He's only averaging two points a game and he makes four of six and gets 10 points against us. Give that young kid credit."

And listen to Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz talk about Harris' play: "DiJuan was terrific. Defensively, he was really special. I think he did a great job of not allowing the easy baskets that Wake normally gets. Ish (Smith) is a terrific player and he still got fives assists, but he can easily get 10 or 12."

Harris, a sophomore who played one year at junior college, played a season-high 33 minutes, scored 10 points, had three rebounds, five assists, four steals and committed just two turnovers.

"It's about opportunity. The way the game flows, that's how I play," Harris said. "I give the team what they need me to do. If they need me to score, I score. I take advantage of opportunities the defense gives me.

"Tonight, (Wake Forest) sagged off a lot and I took advantage of it and knocked down some key shots when they were needed."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bowden's letter of intent arrives

The Charlotte 49ers men's basketball team has received a signed national letter of intent from recruit Shamarr Bowden, a 6-foot-3, 165-pound shooting guard who originally committed to Virginia Tech.

An official announcement of Bowden's signing is expected to be released by the Charlotte sports information office on Thursday.

Bowden, 18, is a senior at The Miller Academy, a prep school in Charlottesville, Va., where he averaged 20.7 points last season. He played previously played at Greensboro Grimsley High.

When dogs fly

The Charlotte 49ers have lined up some interesting halftime entertainment for Thursday's showdown with Wake Forest at Charlotte Bobcats Arena.

"K9s in Flight," which features high flying, acrobatic stunts by dogs and frisbees, is the scheduled halftime show at the game. "K9s in Flight" has performed for over 50 NFL, NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and NCAA games, according to its Web site,

All of the dogs that participate have been rescued or adopted from organizations throughout the country. The show is sponsored by Carolina Medical Center University.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Q&A: Jerrell Lewis talks about transfer

Reserve point guard Jerrell Lewis announced on Monday he had left the Charlotte 49ers' men's basketball team and plans to transfer to another school at the conclusion of the fall semester next month. I caught up with Lewis on Monday afternoon by phone to ask him a few questions about his decision to leave Charlotte.

Q: Jerrell, how did you come to this decision?

Lewis: I've talked a lot with my family and spent some time going over my situation and decided it was best at this point to look to play somewhere else. I think Charlotte is a great program and I think it will have tremendous success, but for me, I need to be somewhere where I feel more comfortable and someplace that is a better fit for me. This is not about playing time or anything like that. It's just about a better fit for me.

Q: You haven't gotten a lot of game experience here. Do you regret your decision to come to Charlotte?

Not at all. I've learned a lot. I'm a much better person and a better player than when I first came here. This is just the right thing for me to do. I don't leave bitter or angry.

Q: Have you made a decision on where you would like to end up?

I don't have any one particular school narrowed down. I've got nothing set. I would like to be closer to home (Brooklyn, N.Y.). I spent four years in a prep school in New Hampshire and the past three years here in Charlotte. I haven't been around home much. The main thing, though, is to find a place that will be a good fit for me and my style of play.

Q: What prompted you to make the decision now?

Lewis: I've had discussions with my family for a while now. I did not want my situation to be a distraction to the team, so I tried to time it when it would not be. I didn't want guys on the team sitting around saying things like, "What's going on with Jerrell?" when they should be focused on something else.

Q: What do you think about the potential for this year's team?

Lewis: I really believe this is going to be a good team. They are working so hard. It's always been true that good things happen for those who work hard. If anything, this team may be trying too hard. There is a tremendous amount of talent here. They will be successful.

49ers point guard leaves team, will transfer

Charlotte 49ers senior point guard Jerrell Lewis, citing personal reasons, has elected to leave the 49ers' men's basketball program and will transfer at the conclusion of the fall semester, the school has announced.
- Jim Utter

Friday, November 23, 2007

49ers to play in California tournament next season

The Charlotte 49ers just finished their lone regular season tournament appearance for this season, but have already made plans for another one next season.

Charlotte has accepted an invitation to play next November in the Anaheim Classic, an eight-team tournament that made its debut this season at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center. Each team is guaranteed three games in four days. This year's tournament started with games on Thanksgiving Day and final games conclude on Sunday.

The tournament is hosted by the Big West Conference and features all of the games televised on some ESPN network. This year's tournament consists of Mississippi State, UC-Irvine, Southern Illinois, Chattanooga, Miami (Ohio), South Alabama, San Diego and Southern California.

No word yet on what other teams have accepted invitations for next season's Anaheim Classic, which also features events built around nearby Disneyland.

-Jim Utter

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Paradise Jam: Final thoughts

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands - Some wrap-up thoughts from Paradise Jam as we wait for our late afternoon flight back to Charlotte:

  • Winthrop appears to be in good hands with first-year Randy Peele. The Eagles lost their coach, some talented seniors and one player died in a traffic accident in the offseason -- any of which could have thrown this program for a loop -- but they impressed many here with their tenacity and composure. Winthrop looked spent in the championship game against Baylor, but heading back to Rock Hill 3-1 with a win over an ACC team is a strong start to the season.
  • It's way too early to make a call on the Charlotte 49ers. They are not as good yet as some thought after starting 2-0, but neither are they as bad as many think after losing the fourth-place game to Monmouth. There is no question the quality of the players and the defense is much improved over last season. The offense still has a long way to go.
  • It was never going to be easy to judge Charlotte while one of its starters - Pepperdine transfer Michael Gerrity - sits out the first eight games. With eight new players and a whole compliment not available until second semester, patience will be key. If in January this team still looks the way it did against Monmouth, then it will be time to hit the panic button. I'll say one thing for this team, though, win or lose there is never a dull moment.
  • One trademark common to both Winthrop and Charlotte so far this season -- generally classy actions on court by their respective players. During game introductions this year, Charlotte players go and greet the referees. Winthrop does too, but I don't know if they've done that before. Also in six tournament games between them, I don't recall a single instance of a player from either team complaining unnecessarily about bad officiating. In one standout moment Sunday, after Charlotte's Charlie Coley got hit with a technical for hanging on the rim, he let the ball roll out of bounds and off the court. It wasn't required, but Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz asked Coley to retrieve it and give it back to the referees, which he did. There will always be bad calls in games. A young team's ability to play through them is a key ingredient to staying on track.
That's all for now. Winthrop has little time to relax, returning to action on Sunday at home to face Missouri State. Charlotte gets nine days to prepare for Wake Forest on Nov. 29 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, its second of four games against ACC teams this season.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Virgin Islands pics: Wish you were here

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Monmouth | 49ers' Next Opponent

The Charlotte 49ers (3-1) play Monmouth at 3:30 p.m. Monday for fourth place in the Paradise Jam tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas. Jim Utter takes a quick look at the Hawks (1-3), who are coming off a 59-50 victory over Wichita State.


Not much until the Hawks became a different team defensively in the second half of their win Saturday over Wichita State, giving them their first victory of the season. Monmouth held the Shockers to four field goals over a span of 16 minutes 30 seconds in the second half and forced 17 turnovers for the game. Monmouth's Jhamar Youngblood scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.


Until Saturday's win, the Hawks have had difficulty on offense. They managed just 33 points Friday against Notre Dame and for much of the first half against Wichita State couldn't even get good looks at the basket. The opened the season with close losses at Colgate and at Seton Hall and appeared headed to an 0-4 start until their second half rally against Wichita State.


Charlotte's defense has been consistently effective this season even when its offense has been spotty. With the problems Monmouth has had offensively so far this season, another strong defensive effort by the 49ers should give the Hawks fits.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Illinois-Chicago: 49ers Next Opponent

The Charlotte 49ers (2-1) play Illinois-Chicago at 6 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the Paradise Jam tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas. Jim Utter takes a quick look at the Flames (2-1), who are coming off a 72-58 loss to Winthrop.

Illinois-Chicago started the season 2-0 with home wins over Bradley and Illinois-Springfield. Junior guard Josh Mayo continues to be a potent offensive force and averaged 23.5 points in Flames' first two games. Mayo and 7-foot-1 center Scott VanderMeer are a good inside-outside punch. VanderMeer had a school-record 105 blocks last season.

Winthrop worked extensively on taking away Illinois-Chicago's ability to drive to the basket and the result was forcing the Flames to take shots from the outside, where they are not as proficient. Mayo struggled with his shot and committed a very uncharacteristic seven turnovers.
Charlotte's athleticism and defensive effort should allow the 49ers to work a similar game-plan against Illinois-Chicago as did Winthrop. However, the 49ers, which start four new players, are coming off their first loss of the season. How Charlotte's players respond to that loss will likely determine the game.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Georgia Tech: 49ers Next Opponent

The Charlotte 49ers (2-0) play Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Paradise Jam tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas. Jim Utter takes a quick look at the Yellow Jackets (1-1), who are coming off a 99-85 victory at Tennessee State.

Has Georgia Tech righted the wrongs that plagued it in its season opening home loss to UNC Greensboro? A dominating victory at Tennessee State this week should have helped. The Yellow Jackets went inside to dominate Tennessee State as junior center Alade Aminu scored a career-high 25 and Tech outscored the Tigers 48-18 in the paint.

A lot was wrong in the Yellow Jackets' season opener as a poor second-half display on offense and defense helped UNC Greensboro pull the upset. Outside of Morrow (23 points), Georgia Tech had virtually no consistent offense and allowed the Spartans to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field. UNC Greensboro also handily out-muscled the Jackets on the boards in the second-half, hardly what you would expect from a very athletic Tech team.

Which Georgia Tech team will show up? The one with virtually no inside game against UNC Greensboro or the one which dominated the paint at Tennessee State? Either way, Charlotte's frontcourt of Phil Jones, Lamont Mack and An'Juan Wilderness is likely to determine the outcome of this game.

Greetings from the Virgin Islands

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Good Morning, Charlotte and Winthrop fans!

No disrespect intended as I usually cover Charlotte 49er athletics, but since Winthrop joins Charlotte in the eight-team Paradise Jam tournament over the next four days, I will be spending a lot of time with both teams.

One thing for residents of St. Thomas, they sure are a friendly lot. Arriving on Wednesday we were greeted with punch (alcohol included), steel drum music and a long wait at baggage claim. But wherever you go, you're greeted with big smiles and welcomes.

The plane ride in is incredible as you pass over the many Caribbean islands, including some so small you wonder if they have names. Virtually the entire airport is "open air" - baggage claim and where you check in for departing flights. I would hate to fly on a rainy day.

Rental cars are an adventure, as is the driving. You are given two reminders about traffic on St. Thomas, where you travel on the left side of the road. One is verbal - "Keep your shoulder to the shoulder." That was offered by the rental car desk attendant. They other is a large sticker on the windshield on the driver's side: "KEEP TO THE LEFT." I'm sure the rental car agencies here have had more than one car come back from someone who did not remember or take the advice.

Interested in the main trade? My room key to my hotel came with a $200 discount if you buy a pair of diamond stud earrings 1 carat or more. I also got a 20-percent coupon for another jewelry outlet left in my room.

This morning I made the trek over to the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center. I found the entry to the main campus (the arena is not there). Then found the arena (aka elaborate high school gym) at the turn for the campus' marine sanctuary. It's obvious here basketball is not the main recreational activity.

Charlotte practices first this morning, followed by Winthrop. All but one of the 49ers' players made the trip. Pepperdine transfer Michael Gerrity is still not allowed to travel with the team until he becomes eligible following the conclusion of the fall semester.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wilderness a defensive stopper

Charlotte 49er fans, meet An'Juan Wildnerness - the freshman defensive stopper.

Two games into his first season with the 49ers, Wilderness has already shown himself to be one of Charlotte's toughest defenders on a team that is quickly developing a reputation for stingy defense.

That, of course, is a good thing. And the freshman forward's defensive skills were much needed in Monday night's win over Appalachian State when the Mountaineers' Kellen Brand connected on all four of his 3-pointers and racked up 16 points in the first half.

Enter Wilderness, who Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz stuck on Brand most of the second half.

"An'Juan was terrific on Brand in the second half. He didn't score much when An'Juan was guarding him. He still made plays and shots but An'Juan did a very good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes of the second half of slowing him down," Lutz said.

Brand never took another 3-pointer until late in the second half when Charlotte appeared to have the game well in hand.

"Coach said to get on him, so I got on him and did my job," Wilderness said. "I got on him, pressured him and didn't let him breathe. That's about it."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Burgin is A-10 Player of the Week

Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball junior center Danielle Burgin of Asheville was named the Atlantic 10's women's player of the week. She claimed the honor as a result of her performance at this past weekend’s WBCA Classic at Penn State.

Burgin averaged a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds) in Charlotte’s three games in the Classic, where the 49ers went 0-3. She recorded her first double-double of the season and the fourth of her career with 12 points and 12 rebounds against No. 20 Pittsburgh on Friday.

On Saturday, she added her fifth career double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds against Penn State. She scored four points and grabbed eight rebounds against Arizona in the final game of the Classic on Sunday.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Game notes: High Point at Charlotte, Nov. 9

Games Notes provided by Charlotte 49ers Sports Information:

Charlotte 49ers vs. High Point
Fri., Nov. 9; 7:30 p.m.
Halton Arena (9,105); Charlotte, N.C.

The Coaches:
Bobby Lutz, Charlotte
Career: 349-203 (19th year)
at Charlotte: 168-112 (10th year)

Bart Lundy, High Point
Career: 185-93 (11th year)
at High Point: 70-52 (6th year)

Series Record: High Point leads, 2-0. Two teams have not met since 1970.

NOTES: The 49ers are 8-1 in season-openers under Lutz ... The two teams met in a season-opener once before: 1969-70; High Point won, 113-59 ... High Point is the preseason favorite to win the Big South Conference ... Charlotte has been picked to place 10th in the Atlantic 10 Conference in the league’s preseason poll ... the 49ers next game is at home, Nov. 12 vs. Appalachian State ... Appalachian State went 25-8 last year, earning a trip to the NIT.

The 49ers: The Charlotte 49ers return two starters from last year’s 14-16 squad, but hope that the influx of the Atlantic 10’s top-ranked recruiting class will send the Niners to greater heights in head coach Bobby Lutz’s 10th year at the helm. The 49ers return senior guard Leemire Goldwire, who was second on the team with a 14.5 scoring average, last year as well as sophomore shooter Ian Andersen, who averaged 4.6 points while making 14 starts, last season.

A DECADE of 49er PRIDE: Charlotte, it should be noted, has been to post-season play in seven of Bobby Lutz’s nine seasons, including a school-record five NCAA Tournament appearances. In the last four years, Charlotte has posted one first-place and two second-place regular-season finishes in league play (2004 C-USA Champs; 2005 C-USA Runner-up; 2006 A-10 Runner-up). With 168 career wins, Lutz is 14 shy of the school record of 182 coaching victories, held by Jeff Mullins.

GOOD AS GOLD: Senior Leemire Goldwire ranks 21st all-time with 1043 career points and fifth all-time with 215 career three-pointers. He led the Atlantic 10 in three-pointers made per game (3.03) and free throw pct. (.905), last season. His scoring average improved to 16.0 in A-10 games and he shot .450 from three-point range against league opponents. His scoring averages and shooting pcts. have gone up during league play in each of the last two seasons.

Preseason A-10 Honors: The Charlotte 49ers are picked 10th in the A-10 Preseason Poll, as selected by coaches and media. Xavier is picked to win the league. Senior Leemire Goldwire is a preseason all-Atlantic 10 third team selection. Sophomore center Phil Jones is tabbed on the preseason all-Rookie Team.

The Long Rangers: Each of the last nine years -- which neatly corresponds with Bobby Lutz’s tenure as head coach -- the 49ers have boasted the league leader in either three-pointers made or three-pointers made per game. Last year, Leemire Goldwire led the A-10 with 3.03 threes per game.

2007 Leemire Goldwire (91; 3.03)

2006 De’Angelo Alexander (94, 3.03)

2005 *Brendan Plavich (114, 3.9)

2004 Brendan Plavich (97, 3.3)

2003 Demon Brown (137)

2002 Jobey Thomas (110)

2001 Jobey Thomas (94)

2000 Jobey Thomas (81)

1999 Diego Guevara (80)

* Led the nation in three-pointers made per game

(Charlotte was in Conference USA from 1999-2005)

Home at Halton: The 49ers have won at least 10 home games in nine of the 11 seasons that they have called Halton Arena home. Charlotte was 10-4 last year. The 49ers have advanced to post-season play in nine of the 11 years (7 NCAA; 2 NIT) at Halton. Overall the Niners are 113-32 (.779) in 11 years at Halton.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Niners host women's soccer tournament

The Atlantic 10 women's soccer tournament gets underway on Thursday at the 49ers' Transamerica Field. Charlotte, the top seed, doesn't play until Friday's semifinals.

Charlotte coach Jon Lipsitz offered an inside look on the teams participating in the tournament this season.

Fordham: "A counter attacking team -- they will sit in with lots of players and then counter -- so they can absorb lots of chances waiting for their special ones. Difficult style to play against."

Duquesne: "They have a great midfield that has been scoring lots of goals lately. First year coach and he has them inspired and ready. Very athletic."

Saint Louis: "Have a great attack and are the two-time defending tournament champ so very difficult to favor anyone but them. Great possession style, very skilled."

Dayton: "Has top goal scorer in league - Mandi Back - they are very tough and good on set pieces and Back can win a game individually at any time."

Richmond: "The Cinderella -- after a few lean years they are back in the tourney -- very organized. Expect low scoring games that come down to a couple moments. Top player is Jess Wolfe in the midfield."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Niners injury update

Injury update on Charlotte 49ers' men's basketball team entering Friday night's season opener against High Point:

-- Redshirt freshman forward Charles Dewhurst, who missed last week's exhibition against Ottawa with acute Achilles tendinitis in his right foot, has been practicing this week at 100 percent.
-- Senior guard Sean Phaler has been battling a stomach virus.
-- Senior guard Jerrell Lewis has a loose tooth, which should not affect his availability.
In other words, everyone is pretty much good to go.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Golfer DiBitetto wins A-10 honor

Charlotte 49ers senior golfer Andrew DiBitetto has been named Atlantic 10 co-Golf Performer of the Week after posting a perfect 4-0 record at the Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championships in Greensboro, Ga.

DiBitetto’s award is the 49ers' fourth this fall. Sophomore Corey Nagy has won the award twice: Sept. 17 after winning the Scenic City Invitational and Oct. 22 after placing third to lead the 49ers to the team title at The Prestige Invitational. Junior Stefan Wiedergruen won the award Sept. 24 after winning the PING/GolfWeek Preview.

Charlotte, ranked first in both the Golfstat and GCAA Coaches’ Poll and second in GolfWeek, have won each of the first three stroke play tournaments in which they have competed.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ozimek earns academic all-district honor

Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer senior midfielder Lindsey Ozimek was named to the first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III women’s soccer team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. As a result of being named first-team academic all-district, Ozimek will represent the district on a national ballot for Academic All-America honors.

Ozimek is the first player in the program’s history to be named first-team Academic All-District three times in their career and the first to be named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American twice.

Last season, she earned first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American honors. In 2005, she earned third-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American honors.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

There's lots to say after 49ers' rout

Some postgame quotes and thoughts from Charlotte 49ers coach Bobby Lutz and players Phil Jones and Leemire Goldwire following their 92-36 exhibition victory against Ottawa on Wednesday night:
Coach Bobby Lutz:
"I was pleased. I was a little concerned with so many new guys. But they were anxious to play somebody other than each other. I am really shocked at the margin. They did have two guys missing, but this team played Illinois and Alabama. Villanova did beat them pretty handily, but it was a game at halftime in all of them. I was pretty surprised with the easy we were able to establish a big lead in the first half. There was great energy and the crowd was fantastic."
Thoughts on Phil Jones: "Phil showed that he is a low-post presence. That’s what we wanted to start the game. He just needs to continue to work on his conditioning. He gets tired. In the second half, we just didn’t get it to him. Part of that was they adjusted their defense and played some zone. They packed it in on him. He is going to continue to be, when he is in the game, a focal point of our offense."
Thoughts on DiJuan Harris: "DiJuan was terrific off the bench. He had 18 minutes, four assists, no turnovers, three steals. It’s not that he wouldn’t be a good starter, but he is the prefect energizer off the bench. We’re already playing hard and quick and then he comes in and we hit another level. He was really good both halves."
Phil Jones
"It feels good, man. I waited a whole year for this. There were a lot of emotions, but it was good. I enjoyed myself. For the first three minutes I had butterflies. We have faithful fans. The turnout was great. They got a taste of what they’re going to see this season. We’ve put in a lot of hard work, so it’s going to pay off in the end."
Leemire Goldwire
"I started the game off at the (point guard position) and tried to get my other teammates involved, but when I moved to (shooting guard) and they milk me, I can make those all day. We didn’t play that strong a team but the crowd was behind us and we played hard. Sometimes in practice we go hard and sometimes we go so-so, but we were definitely going all out tonight. It was a good win."