Monday, March 17, 2008

A welcomed welcome for 49ers

In the midst of all the excitement of the NCAA tournament's start this week, Charlotte's invitation to the National Invitation Tournament and a first round game at Nebraska may not seem a stellar reward for a good season, but there are still other ways a team's effort can be appreciated.

I saw one such method in the early morning hours Sunday.

Charlotte won two games in the Atlantic 10 tournament in wild fashion, then lost to eventual champion Temple late Friday night. The team was scheduled to leave Philadelphia on a 6:10 p.m. flight to return to Charlotte - a flight that never got off the ground until well after 10 p.m.

The team finally rolled into Halton Arena a little after 1 a.m. Sunday and standing outside to greet them were about two dozen fans and supporters. The team and coaches were tired, they had been at the airport for at least six hours.

But the welcome back caught them by surprise. Every player and coach stopped to talk to the fans that were there, autographs were signed and pictures taken. After about 20 minutes or so everyone headed their separate ways.

For a few moments though there were reflections on the incredible comeback over Massachusetts, Leemire Goldwire's inspiring performance and coach Bobby Lutz running on the floor, fists pumping, after the UMass win.

Nebraska, Alaska or Halton Arena. NIT, CBI, backyard playground. I don't think it mattered much what Charlotte did next, the 49ers are still playing. A team picked 10th in the preseason, with eight new players and all but two on the roster coming back next season, can use any tournament experience it can get.

I'm guessing the unexpected welcome the team received in the wee hours of Sunday morning may have been just as big a token of appreciation of a long, wild and very entertaining season as anything else.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Three Cheers for Mediocrity!!

HIP! HIP!...

Anonymous said...

I'd be much happier with an NCAA bid, but the NIT will lay a solid foundation for a BIG year next year. I expect big things from this team.

LET'S GO NINERS!!!

zerogeneticsdc said...

I'm definately not going to complain - NIT bid is much better than we were projected to get. I'm excited to get to watch Lee play again.


WIN THE NIT BOYS!

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear and read about this. I wish we would have beaten Temple, but the NIT will be a big step towards next season. Who knows, we COULD win at Nebraska and maybe make some noise at Ole Miss and that would lead to more people knowing about next year than this year.
Then again, we're better when we fly under the radar.

Anonymous said...

Mediocrity is what Wake and NC State are doing right now - NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

Not celebrating the NIT invite. I do admit we did a little better this year than I had expected. No argument there. The equation however this year was the same as it always is. We hit a lot of 3s we win, we miss em we lose.

Whenever we break that mold and we can find an offense other than 25 foot fade away bombs.....we can say goodbye to mediocrity. Didn't happen this year though.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see that NIT banner hanging next season.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous, I love the niners but until Lutz demands fundamentals from his players, ie: scoring in the post, working the ball from the inside out, hitting at least 70% free throws, etc, our team will never be better than a second round loser in the NCAA's.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

"Never better than a second round loser in the NCAAs" - wow you people are full yourselves. Most schools, including some in the ACC, would die to get to the second round. What do you think, you should win the national championship? WAKE UP

Anonymous said...

20 and 13 is not mediocre. If the A10 got its due, 20 and 13 would be an NCAA bid. Also, we beat Clemson, Davidson, and St. Joe's, all NCAA teams. All we need is a shooting guard and a year more of maturity and this team will rock.

Anonymous said...

If you guys think 20 and 13 is mediocrity, you'll never be able to stomach your 1-10 football team for the first three years

Anonymous said...

"second round loser in the NCAA's"?

I don't quite think the program has achieved that level, yet.

I am happy with this season's accomplishments. I just hope the team realizes how much the bar has been raised for next season.

Anonymous said...

Somebody thinks that 20-13 isn't very good because we're not in the NCAAs right now. No at large bid. That means, we didn't do "great" this year...IMO. But again, we did better than I expected us to do with such a young team.

In regard to success though, I'll take better quality play and offense as my measure. No matter what our record is, I'd like to see us play more efficiently. We do that, and the wins, NCAA appearances will pile up.

Chris said...

Bashing people for supporting their team, real classy. There's a difference in being excited over an NIT bid and simply showing support for your team. Fans should support a team whether they go to the NCAA, NIT or CBI tournament, or if they don't go to any. Such a strange concept to actually show support for your team, win or lose, I thought being a fan was all about anonymously degrading the team on message boards and blogs?

Anonymous said...

If you're not even a 49ers fan then why even post on here. Three cheers for mediocrity? Come on man, go ride the Davidson ban wagon. Finishing 4th in the A-10, beating Wake Forest, Clemson, Davidson, St. Josephs, Temple (all in the ncaa tournament), Southern Illinois, Rhode Island (both ranked in the top 25 this year), getting to the semi finals in the A-10 tourny by showing that they are clutch players, and getting to postseason play! But I guess thats just mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

For the person who said "second round loser in the NCAA's"? I don't quite think the program has achieved that level, yet." UNCC made it to the final four in the NIT in 1976 and the final four in the NCAA tournament in 1977.

Anonymous said...

We also went to the 2nd round of the NCAA 4 straight times a few years back

Anonymous said...

It was three in row.

Anonymous said...

How does Arizona, Kentucky, and Oregon get bids to NCAA while Charlotte and Virginia Tech don't? They need to just get rid of this lousy NCAA tournament committee and just let 128 teams in the tournament. That way teams with good winning percentages and conference records can get in, as well as some of the teams that got in with half-ass records. I'm proud to say, I won't be watching the biased NCAA tournament this year

Jon said...

Not that I am not very psyched about the upcoming game, but, hey, we have the #3 ranked team in the nation, at Golf, but hell, it is the highest ranking I can remember of any of our teams. Nice job!

These kids are winners, we have a lot of talent on that bench, we will survive the loss of Lee and be better next year. Give it up for Bobby for once, that class didn't recruit themselves.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is the ONLY team in the entire NIT field with a winning mark against the entire NCAA Tourney field. We're 4-3. We are also the only NIT team with 5 wins vs. the Top 50 RPI. But, we get a road game.
Now, that's not much of welcome is it?

Anonymous said...

"5:15 anonymous" it actually was 2nd round for 4 straight trips to NCAAs (97, 98, 99 and 01).