Monday, February 28, 2011

Who might the Niners recruit for 2012?

With the first coach, Brad Lambert, set to be introduced Tuesday, among the first orders of business is recruiting for the 2012 class of rising high school seniors, which will be redshirted and begin play in 2013.

What kind of players might Charlotte expect to sign next February? While recruiting for Football Championship Subdivision schools is harder to follow -- most players would prefer to play in the Football Bowl Subdivision if possible -- there are some players to follow.

Just to get you in the mood, here's a local prospect for 2012, Porter Ridge quarterback Lee McNeill, who at this point could be slightly undersized (6-1, 170, 4.55 40)  for the FBS but interesting to the Niners. He could also end up anywhere, and we're picking him simply because he's local.

Lambert's Deacons D struggled in '10

Brad Lambert had success in many of the 23 seasons he's been an assistant coach -- including winning a national title at Marshall in 1992 and the ACC championship at Wake Forest in 2006.

Things, however, didn't go so well for Lambert at Wake Forest last season, this third as the Deacons' defensive coordinator.

The young and depth-shy Deacons struggled defensively all season, ranking last in the ACC in points per game (35.8), 11th in total defense (430.7 yards) and pass defense (143.8) and 10th in rush defense (192.5). Low points were losses to Stanford (68-24) and Maryland (62-14). Wake Forest allowed 40-plus points four times.

There's an argument to be made that last season was an aberration. So thin was Wake's defense that two true freshman started in the secondary, which almost never happens because coach Jim Grobe usually redshirts his freshmen. But last season's senior class didn't pan out and the young guys were called upon with disastrous results.

The day Brad Lambert beat Spurrier, Bowden

Will Witherspoon was one of the top high school linebacker prospects in the country in 1998. Coming out of Rutherford High in Panama City, Fla., he was a highly sought-after recruit by schools in the SEC, ACC and beyond.

"(Florida State's) Bobby Bowden and (Florida's) Steve Spurrier were beating down the doors for him," said Steve Hardin, the coach at Rutherford.

Then a young assistant coach at Georgia named Brad Lambert got involved. Lambert -- who will be named the Charlotte 49ers' first head coach on Tuesday -- visited Witherspoon and Hardin.

"He had a great recruiting pitch," said Hardin. "He was really straight forward, didn't promise William anything but told him if he worked hard and did things the right way, there was a place for him at Georgia. He thought they could have a great relationship."

Witherspoon visited Georgia soon after. He came back and told Hardin he wanted to play for the Bulldogs, turning down offers from Florida State and Florida in the meantime.

"That was absolutely the work of Brad Lambert," said Hardin, who's now coaching in Florida.

Witherspoon went on to have a standout career at Georgia and played in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers. He's now with the Tennessee Titans.

Donnan: Lambert competitive, adaptive

I'll be posting more about new 49ers football coach Brad Lambert throughout the day. Check back every couple of hours or follow me on Twitter (@davidscott14) to be alerted...


Brad Lambert has worked for two head coaches in his 23-year career as a college football assistant: Jim Donnan and Jim Grobe.

Donnan hired Lambert as a grad assistant at Oklahoma in 1988, then took him to Marshall in 1990 and Georgia in 1996, staying with the Bulldogs until Donnan was fired in 2001. Lambert then spent 10 seasons at Wake under Grobe.

"He's the right guy for UNC Charlotte from my standpoint," said Donnan, who is now a TV analyst. "He's been around college football on both levels, I-A and I-AA. He knows about fund raising. He's a very cocompetitive guy and very adaptive, which he's going to need since he's starting a new program there."

Lambert was part of several successful teams with Donnan. Marshall won the NCAA FCS championship in 1992 and lost in the championship game in three other seasons. At Georgia, Lambert was linebackers coach on Bulldogs teams that won four straight bowls.

"He's got a really good feel for how to handle people and players," said Donnan. "Every guy has a motor that runs differently. He makes sure he taps into that."

Donnan said Lambert understands what will go into not only his first head coaching job, but starting a program from scratch.

"They don't have helmets, shoes or anything there yet," said Donnan. "But when we were at Marshall, we were building a new stadium, so he knows what it's like to have your office in the gym, to take a bus to practice, things like that. He's done that.

"Marshall, it was so different from Oklahoma. So he had to learn with me about partial scholarships, Pell Grants, getting transfers in ... the things he's going to have to do starting up a new deal at Charlotte. He's not going to get the pick-of-the-litter players. He's going to have to bring them in and develop them, which he's done before."

"He has the one ability to meet people, he's very genuine. He gets his message across and can get people dialed in and get behind him. And he's going to need that support."

49ers land Wake's Lambert

Brad Lambert, a longtime top lieutenant of Wake Forest's Jim Grobe, is the Charlotte 49ers' first football coach, a university source confirmed this morning.

The 49ers will introduce Lambert, 46, on Tuesday at a noon news conference. Lambert will need to hit the ground running for a program that begins play in 2013. He can begin recruiting players immediately for an incoming redshirt freshman class in 2012. Lambert can hire two assistant coaches this year before filling out his staff in 2012.

Lambert -- who has no head coaching experience -- has been at Wake Forest since 2001 and served as the Deacons' defensive coordinator since 2008. He began his stint at Wake as linebackers coach before being promoted three seasons ago.

Lambert will make a base salary of $175,000. The 49ers appear to be following the same pattern of Old Dominion, which began its football program in 2009 and hired Bobby Wilder -- a longtime assistant at Maine who had no previous head coaching experience. The Monarchs have gone 17-5 in their first two seasons (9-2 in '09, 8-3 in '10) competition that closely mirrors what Charlotte will play (a mixture of Division II and FCS competition).

Charlotte will play at the FCS level, but plans to move up to FBS (formerly Division I-A) eventually.

Lambert, who played at Kansas State, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma in 1988-89. He went on to Marshall (1990-95) and Georgia (1996-2000) before moving to Wake Forest.

Lambert coached many of the best defensive players in Wake Forest history, including linebackers Aaron Curry (Seattle Seahawks), Jon Abbate (All-ACC) and Stanley Arnoux, as well as defensive back Alphonso Smith.

Lambert and wife Angie have three children, daughter Lucy and sons Layne and Beau.


What kind of recruiter is Lambert? Here's a link to a Rivals'com database that will give you some idea.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making tournament IS important to 49ers

While coach Alan Major has somewhat understandably tried to downplay the importance of making the Atlantic 10 tournament, senior forward An'Juan Wilderness sounded off about how the players feel about it after Charlotte's 72-59 loss to Richmond on Saturday.

“We think about and talk about the tournament all the time,” said Wilderness, who led the 49ers with 16 points. “We need to win a couple more games. If we win those, it’s anybody’s game after that. If we win these next two games and that puts me in the tournament, we feel like we can make a run.

"And it's my senior year, so it's very important to me."

Wishful thinking perhaps -- 13th-place Charlotte finishes the regular season at first-place Xavier and at home against 12th-place Saint Joseph's next Saturday. The 49ers (2-12) will need to be tied or within a game of the Hawks (3-11) when they play each other in Halton in the regular-season finale (a tie in the standings goes to the head-to-head winner). Saint Joseph's hosts Richmond on Wednesday.

Major has said he values the process of his team's progress at least as much as the results -- thereby lowering expectations as the season has continued to get away from the 49ers -- but backed off that a little bit Saturday night as the direness of his team's situation settled in.

“I try to not hang too much over these guys’ heads with absolutes, that you’ve got to do this or that,” said Major. “We want to concentrate on playing good basketball. And if there’s a week to try and capture that, this is going to be it.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

49ers football coach update

Here's what we know about Charlotte's search for a football coach:

-- It doesn't look like it will be Chuck Amato. Amato, the former N.C. State coach, hasn't been interviewed for the job although he has applied for it. In fact, he hasn't heard from 49ers officials at all, according to sources. If Charlotte is going to have someone in place by April 1, it would seem like Amato would have been contacted by now.

-- I spoke with someone who is familiar with several coaches who are interested in the job or who have been contacted by the 49ers (and the names of these guys are kept under wraps so as not to jeopardize the jobs they currently have). He said Charlotte seems to be interested in coordinators on the FBS level who have 15-20 years of experience.

Along those lines, I've heard Chris Cosh, Kansas State's defensive coordinator who had the same job at South Carolina in 2003, might be interested. Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert could also be a possibility.

-- Reminder: The Charlotte job pays $175,000 per year. Although that's competitive with what many FCS head coaches around the country make, it's far less than what coordinators at big-time programs are making now.

-- Mike Minter, a former Carolina Panthers player who coaches at Concord’s First Assembly Christian, has taken his name out of consideration.
“I talked to their people and we agreed it wouldn’t be a good fit,” said Minter.

-- Also, Rod Broadway, who had interest at one time, left Grambling for N.C. A&T earlier this month.

49ers preseason A-10 golf favorites

The 49ers, who have won five straight Atlantic 10 golf championships, are favored to do so again this season.

Charlotte is the preseason favorite to win another title in a vote by the league's coaches.

The 49ers received seven first-place votes and got 114 points. Richmond and Xavier are picked to finish second and third, respectively.

Charlotte is the second school in league history to win five straight golf championships. Penn State won five in a row from 1986-91.

Charlotte's most recent league title came last season when it won by 18 shots. Corey Nagy was the individual medalist. The conference tournament returns to the Mission Inn Golf & Tennis Resort in Orlando, Fla., from April 29-May 1.

Atlantic 10 preseason golf poll
1 – Charlotte (7), 114 points
2 – Richmond (2), 99 points
3 – Xavier (1), 97 points
4 – Rhode Island, 65 points
5 – Dayton, 61 points
6 – Temple, 57 points
7 – George Washington, 52 points
7 – St. Bonaventure, 52 points
9 – Saint Joseph’s, 33 points
10 – Fordham, 25 points
11 – La Salle, 15 points

61 runs ... no homers?

The 49ers baseball team certainly won't outscore Big 12 foe Missouri 61-1 this weekend -- as it did in a four-game season-opening sweep of Coppin State a week ago.

But maybe Charlotte can at least hit one home run against the Tigers, who are in town for four games beginning today at 4 p.m. at Hayes Stadium.

Charlotte (4-0) scored all those those runs against Coppin without hitting a home run. There's a logical reason for that: College baseball is using a new metal bat this season, one that more closely duplicates the velocity of a wood bat. There's been controversy in the college game for a long time that balls come off metal bats too fast and are unsafe. This is an attempt at a compromise.

The closest a 49er came to going deep was one of sophomore outfielder Tony Montalbano's five doubles in the series hitting the wall. Montalbano, who redshirted last season after playing as a freshman at Bossier Parrish (La.) Junior College, had 10 RBIs against Coppin and was named the Atlantic 10's co-player of the week.

The 49ers -- who received votes in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll -- and Mizzou (1-2) also play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon and another game Sunday at noon. Probable pitchers for Charlotte are Andrew Smith today, Tyler Barnette and Corey Roberts on Saturday and Joe Yermal on Sunday.

If you can't make it out there this weekend, don't worry, there are plenty of other home games coming up. Twenty-seven of the 49ers' first 32 games are at Hayes Stadium. The first road game is Tuesday at North Carolina and Charlotte is host to UNC Asheville next weekend.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Green benched because of defense

As the 49ers’ season limps toward its conclusion, coach Alan Major continues to shake up his lineup.
The most recent change has been the insertion of senior guard Charles Dewhurst into the starting lineup ahead of junior Derrio Green, who has been the team’s most dynamic player this season and Charlotte’s leading scorer.
Major said the change was made for defensive purposes.
“We’re playing with some things defensively,” said Major, whose team (10-17, 2-11 Atlantic 10) plays Saturday against Richmond at Halton Arena. “Charles is a senior also, and we’ve been getting a tremendous effort from him. But we’re trying to get off to a better start defensively.”
Green is the team’s leading scorer at 13.4 points per game and made several big plays for the 49ers during a four-game winning streak in December. But he’s had his down moments: He’s shooting just 33.6 percent from the field and his failure to block out Rhode Island’s Jamal Wilson allowed Wilson to tip in the winning basket for the Rams in a 71-70 loss on Feb. 12.
After Green started the next game against Dayton, Dewhurst took over as the starting shooting guard in losses against Saint Louis and George Washington.
Dewhurst, a graduate student who played in high school at Charlotte Latin, had nine rebounds against Saint Louis.
Against George Washington, Green played just 15 minutes and scored a season-low two points (the second lowest total of his career – he didn’t score in his first game for Charlotte last season). He had two turnovers and didn’t have an assist.
Major said Green would have played more against the Colonials, but said he couldn’t get him into the game during an extended stretch in the second half when the 49ers were trying to cut into a big George Washington lead.
“Sometimes a game takes on a life of its own,” said Major. “That crew of guys got us back into the game and when that happens, you try to ride that as much as you can.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tough road to A-10 tournament

A few 49ers notes after being off for a week:

-- Well, it's come to this for the men's basketball team. The 49ers are tied for 12th in the Atlantic 10 with Saint Joseph's, both with 2-10 league records. The top 12 teams make the league tournament. Charlotte has a decidedly tougher schedule the rest of the way, but with a game against the Hawks at Halton Arena awaiting on the final day of the regular season, the 49ers could trail St. Joe's by a game, win that one and still make the tournament (the tie-breaker goes to the head-to-head winner).

Here's the rest of Charlotte's schedule (combined record of first three opponents 28-9)
Wednesday: at George Washington (7-5)
Saturday: Richmond (10-3)
March 2: at Xavier (11-1)
March 5: Saint Joseph's

Saint Joseph's remaining schedule (combined record of first three opponents 22-15)
Wednesday: at UMass (6-6)
Saturday: St. Bonanventure (6-6)
March 2: Richmond (10-3)
March 5: at Charlotte

-- No such worries for the women's team, which wraps up its home schedule Wednesday at 7 p.m. against  Duquesne. Charlotte (21-6, 9-3) can clinch third place and a first-round bye in next week's league tournament with a victory against the Dukes 20-7, 7-5).
-- Not a bad way to start a baseball season, I guess, by outscoring the opposition 61-1 in a four-game series. But that's what the 49ers did against overmatched Coppin State over the weekend. What a mismatch, one that didn't prove much (except that the 49ers can attract decent crowds on a beautiful pre-spring weekend). The 49ers will get a presumably tougher test this weekend when they host Missouri (1-2) for four games. Tigers pitching got roughed up over the weekend in losses to Southern Cal ( 9-3) and North Carolina (11-3) in a tournament in Los Angeles. Missouri also had to score a lot of runs to beat Cal Poly 10-9 in its only victory.

-- Charlotte's women's soccer team signed 10 players last week: Darby Broeker of San Ramon, Calif., Heather Carew of Apex, Hannah Carlson of Chesapeake, Va., Olivia Evans of Dublin, Ohio, Amanda Jones of Mahwah, N.J., Kristin Markham of Elizabethtown, Pa., Annie McHenry of Raleigh, Jessica Ryan of Downingtown, Pa., Dana Robertson of Madison, Wis., and Sara Trexler of Parkland, Fla.

-- The 49ers men's and women's teams finished second at the Atlantic 10 indoor track championships over the weekend at Newport, R.I. Charlotte had nine conference champs:  Junior Sam Jordan (55m), senior Darius Law (200m, 400m), junior Dakota Lowery (mile) and the men's 4x400-meter relay team all captured titles for the men's squad, while senior Chalonda Silver (55m), sophomore Ciera Ginyard (200m), junior Cecily Young (400m) and the 4x400-meter relay unit won women's titles.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wilderness' starting spot solid

It looks like Charlotte 49ers senior forward An’Juan Wilderness has his starting spot back for the rest of the season, which continues after a week off Saturday at Rhode Island.

Wilderness was supplanted in the 49ers’ starting lineup by sophomore K.J. Sherrill in a victory Feb. 2 against Xavier. That was probably understandable. Sherrill had produced a career-high 24 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to La Salle four days earlier. Charlotte was floundering, and a lineup change had the potential to shake things up.

Wilderness had started all the games he had played in (he was suspended for the first game of the season for violating team rules).

But after Sherrill scored just four points and had four rebounds against Xavier in 33 minutes, Wilderness was reinstated as a starter last Saturday against George Washington. He responded with his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

That was enough for 49ers coach Alan Major to say earlier this week that Wilderness would be in the starting five from here on out

“An’Juan has done a great job for us all year long,” said Major. “You look at your seniors for leadership in the stretch run, and at this point we’re going to stay with him. He’s got seven (regular-season) games left in his career. He’s given us a tremendous effort.”

Wilderness has been steady for the 49ers this season – as he has been for most of his career -- averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. Sherrill averages 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. Put them together and that’s pretty good production from that position.

And playing time is not an issue along Charlotte’s short-handed front line. Center Chris Braswell (26.7 minutes per game), small forward Javarris Barnett (28.2), Wilderness (29.6) and Braswell (22.0) all log plenty of minutes.

“It’s not a matter of playing time,” Major said. “They’re all going to get their minutes.”

-- -- Milestone evening coming to Charlotte on Wednesday, when the 49ers play Dayton in what will be the 200th game all-time at Halton Arena. Charlotte is 150-49 in 15 seasons at Halton. Before Halton, Charlotte played its home games either at what’s now Bojangles’ Coliseum or, before that, the Mine Shaft on campus.

-- Proof that Derrio Green and Jamar Briscoe have become more and more interchangeable in the backcourt. Green, technically the team’s starting shooting guard, leads the team in assists at 4.3 per game. Point-guard Briscoe, who has made six-of-13 3 pointers in the last three games, averages 3.1 assists.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Handicapping the football conference situation

Which FCS conference might the 49ers end up in for football? They've been talking to the Big South, Southern Conference and Colonial Athletic Association, each of which make sense. Here's the case for each:

-- Big South
One supposed sticking point for the 49ers is that any membership in an FCS league will be temporary, pending the move to FBS (and Phil Dubois is making sure folks know that's not going to happen soon). Still, if it's temporary you want, the Big South might be the place: Stony Brook, the league's un-southern school, is an associate member in football (like Charlotte would be) and only signed a four-year contract with the league when it came in for the 2008 season (it's since been extended through the 2015 season).
So the Big South obviously isn't averse to being a way-station for schools who might need to look elsewhere in the future.
And the Big South's offices are in Charlotte, so there is that.

-- CAA
Things are in flux in the CAA. Two schools -- national champ Villanova and UMass -- are considering moves to FCS. Two more -- Georgia State and Old Dominion -- are coming into the league. The CAA also is home to other football programs whose schools play the rest of their sports in the Atlantic 10 (like Charlotte would): Richmond, Rhode Island and (for now) UMass. Although there are no Carolinas schools in the CAA (for football), at least Charlotte wouldn't be the southern-most outpost in the league as it is in the A-10. That would be Georgia State. With 10 or more football-playing schools, the league could divide into two divisions.

-- Southern
Don't see this happening. SoCon presidents and ADs are concerned about bringing in any school -- as football only or otherwise -- temporarily. The league also recently just went through an expansion when it added Samford.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

49ers' first FBS opponent: The Hokies

The 49ers made their biggest football scheduling announcement yet today...but it's eight years away from happening.

Charlotte will open its 2019 season against Virginia Tech in the Hokies' Lane Stadium. It comes on the heels of Charlotte scheduling FCS power Furman in 2014 and '15, as well as three other home games for the program's inaugural season of 2013 (Chowan, UNC Pembroke and North Greenville).

Virginia Tech is the first FBS team Charlotte has scheduled.

The announcement came at the 49ers' football forum on campus. A few other highlights:

-- Athletics director Judy Rose said she has been in contact with the Big South, Southern Conference and Colonial Athletic Association about joining as an associate member for football. Rose said the 49ers' intent to eventually move to FBS from FCS has complicated efforts to join a FCS league on what would be a temporary basis.

Rose wants to keep Charlotte in the Atlantic 10 in all other sports. That makes sense for sports such as men's basketball, because the A-10 has a higher profile than the Big South, SoCon or CAA in that sport (its RPI is higher this season than any of those three) and more likely to get more than one bid to the NCAA tournament on a routine basis.

"I don't want to demean these other conferences, but we don't want to intentionally hurt our basketball program with this move to football," said Rose.

-- Seat license sales for football continue to crawl. The 49ers have sold 3,357, for a total of $4.15 million. Seventeen donors have pledged a total of $1.82 million toward the program. Rose said naming rights will be sold for the stadium, the field and the field house.

-- Rose said she wants to have a coach hired by April 1. Ground-breaking for the on-campus stadium is scheduled for April 28. The stadium won't have lights initially, but they could be added at a cost of about $800,000.

-- There's a chance the stadium will also be used for high school football games (it will have artificial turf). Chancellor Phil Dubois said the school might pursue having the Shrine Bowl played there.

-- Rose said additional women's sports (to comply with football-driven Title IX requirements) will begin to be added in 2016. Look for sports with large rosters -- easier to get the numbers up -- like lacrosse and field hockey to be added.

2013 football schedule nearly complete

Three home football games for Charlotte's first season of 2013 have been added -- Chowan on Sept. 7, UNC Pembroke on Oct. 12 and North Greenville on Nov. 9.

The 49ers also just added a home-and-home series against its most prestigious opponent to date --Furman --  for '14 and '15.

Charlotte has 10 games scheduled now for 2013. It has open dates left on Sept. 28, Oct. 19 and Nov. 16.

So the '13 schedule has now taken shape. The 49ers will play their first three games at home on their on-campus field against Campbell, Chowan and N.C. Central, before traveling to Old Dominion for their first road game on Sept. 21.

The 49ers are hitting the Big South (three games) and non-scholarship Pioneer League (two) hard.

Here's how it breaks down by classification so far (seven vs. FCS teams, three vs. Division II teams).

NCAA FCS teams (formerly 1-AA): Campbell (Pioneer League), N.C. Central (MEAC), Old Dominion (CAA), Gardner-Webb (Big South), Charleston Southern (Big South), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Morehead (Pioneer).
Note: N.C. Central was an independent in 2010 but moves to the MEAC next season).
NCAA Division II: Chowan (CIAA), UNC Pembroke (independent), North Greenville (independent).

2013 SCHEDULE (10 games so far)

Aug. 31, Campbell.

Sept. 7, Chowan; 14 N.C. Central; 21, at Old Dominion.

Oct. 5, Gardner-Webb; 12, UNC Pembroke; 26, at Charleston Southern.

Nov. 2, at Coastal Carolina; 9, North Greenville; 23, at Morehead State.

2014 SCHEDULE (seven games so far)

Sept. 6, Old Dominion; 13, at N.C. Central; 27, Charleston Southern.

Oct. 4, at Gardner-Webb.

Nov. 8, Coastal Carolina; 15, at Furman; 22; Morehead State.

49ers to face Furman in football

Charlotte has scheduled a two-game football series with the Southern Conference's Furman, according to the Paladins' athletic website.
The 49ers and Paladins will play on Nov. 15, 2014 -- Charlotte's second season of football -- in Greenville, S.C. A second game will be played in Charlotte in 2015,  with no date set yet.

2013 SCHEDULE (seven games so far)
Aug. 31, Campbell.
Sept. 14 N.C. Central; 21, at Old Dominion.
Oct. 5, Gardner-Webb; 26, at Charleston Southern.
Nov. 2, at Coastal Carolina; 23, at Morehead State. 

2014 SCHEDULE (seven games so far)
Sept. 6, Old Dominion; 13, at N.C. Central; 27, Charleston Southern.
Oct. 4, at Gardner-Webb.
Nov. 8, Coastal Carolina; 15, at Furman; 22; Morehead State.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Football town-hall meeting set for Wednesday

Here are some details on how the football forum set for 4 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 9) at UNC Charlotte's McKnight Hall will work:

Chancellor Phil Dubois, athletics director Judy Rose and Dan Van Dyke of the Jenkins-Peer Architecture firm (designer of the football stadium) will make presentations, followed by a Q&A session.

Chairs of various football campaign committees will also be there.

There will be a live on-line chat during the meeting (go to and Some (not all) questions from the chat will be used during the Q&A session. There will also be video of the meeting available on-line.

Parking will available on the top deck of the Cone parking deck.

There are other town-hall meetings scheduled, the next one probably next fall.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tyler wins 2nd straight rookie of week award

Charlotte's Gabby Tyler has picked up her second consecutive Atlantic 10 women's basketball rookie of the week honor.

Tyler scored nine points on four-of-six shooting in the 49ers' victory at UMass (their only game of the week). Tyler also had two rebounds, two steals and two assists. She's averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Week off? A few things to work on

The 49ers don't play for a week after losing 73-67 Saturday to George Washington at Halton Arena. It's the longest stretch Charlotte has had off since the eight days between the Wright State and Mercer games over the holidays.

The 49ers can spend the week being happy they are still in the mix for the 12-team Atlantic 10 tournament (they're in 12th place with a 2-7 league record). They can also spend the six or so days of practice working on these things (among other things that, I'm sure, Alan Major will think of also):

-- Go stronger to the basket. Charlotte's biggest player -- Chris Braswell -- all the way to its smallest -- Deuce Briscoe and Derrio Green -- don't finish at the rim well. Fouls aren't getting called and, if balls aren't getting swatted away, the shots aren't falling. Layups are missed and George Washington had six blocks on Saturday.

-- Whatever's working with the 3-point field goal defense, keep doing it. The 49ers, who play a lot of zone, might just be fortunate that their opponents don't make a lot of 3s over the top of it. But the 49ers rush shooters and get hands in faces. Charlotte was leading the A-10 in 3-point defense percentage (29.3) entering Saturday's game and GW was even worse (three of 17). That's important because opponents might really be burying the 49ers earlier in games if they were making their 3s.

-- Find a way to get an early lead. It was different in December when Charlotte was erasing double-digit leads and winning, as it was Wednesday against Xavier. But eventually that can wear a team down, and that's becoming the story of the season. It happened again against George Washington, as it did in recent losses against Temple and Duquesne. Come ready to play -- the 49ers were sluggish the first 10 minutes against GW -- and find out what it's like to play with the lead.

-- Keep improving the turnovers situation. The 49ers are getting better, but they still don't take good care of the ball. When they matched Xavier's 11 turnovers on Wednesday with 11 of their own, it was the first time since the Tennessee game (11 games) that Charlotte didn't have more turnovers than its opponent. The 49ers had 14 turnovers against GW, which led to 15 Colonials points. Not as bad as, say, the Duquesne game, when the Dukes scored 31 points off a season-high 26 49ers turnovers. So let's say it's moving in the right direction.

Friday, February 4, 2011

49ers pick up W.Va. basketball prospect

The Charlotte 49ers picked up a commitment this week from Pierria Henry, a 6-foot-3 senior all-state wing at South Charleston (W.Va.) High, a source confirmed today.

Henry, who also had an offer to play football at Marshall, is the fourth player in the class of 2011 for coach Alan Major, joining shooting guard Terrence Williams of West Mecklenburg, forward E. Victor Nickerson of Norcross, Ga., and center Mike Thorne of Fayetteville's Trinity Christian.

Henry is averaging 21.3 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals.

49ers' 3-point defense clicking

The 49ers' 3-point defense -- the best in the Atlantic 10 -- helped them to an upset of Xavier on Wednesday. Charlotte's going to need that again Saturday when one of the league's best long-range shooters -- George Washington's Nemanja Mikic -- comes to town.

Charlotte allows opponents to shoot 29.3 percent from 3-point range, the best mark in the league. Xavier made just three-of-20 on Wednesday, and that included a dismal 0-8 night by guard Tu Holloway, the league's top scorer.

The 49ers' 2-3 zone invites opponents to take jump shots. When they're not finding holes in the interior of the zone, other teams are having a tough time making them from deep.

Coach Alan Major conceded Wednesday that Holloway missed some open looks, but he was having to work hard for his points all night as the 49ers stayed in front of him to keep him from getting to the basket.

Mikic is a 46.0 percent 3-point shooter and GW as a team makes 34.6 percent, fourth best in the league.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hamilton on stopper-of-year watch list

49ers notes

-- Relief pitcher Bryan Hamilton is on the preseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year award.

Hamilton, a senior from Woodstock, Md., was 4-0 last season in 24 appearances, with two saves and a 2.01 ERA. He's also been named to a baseball writers' third-team preseason All-American team.

The 49ers, who opened preseason practice last Friday, open their season Feb. 18 at home against Coppin State.

Incidentally, Charlotte's winning percentage of 69.6 percent since 2006 is the eighth best in Division I over that period of time.

-- The 49ers raised $2,755 for Samaritan’s Feet in its Barefoot for Bare Feet Drives in January. The 49ers had drives during the men's basketball game against UMass on Jan. 19 and the women’s game against Xavier on Jan. 22. Coaches Alan Major and Karen Aston coached in bare feet to show support for the cause.

Seventy-seven pairs of new shoes were also donated. The money and shoes will provide 350 shoes for Samaritan's Feet.

Charlotte track star Darius Law helped organize the effort on campus.

“On behalf of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, I would like to thank the entire athletic department for supporting our efforts to provide new athletic shoes for impoverished children,” Law said in a statement. “I would like to specifically thank coach Major, coach Aston and her coaching staff for coaching barefoot and supporting such a great cause. I would also like to thank all of the students, faculty and fans that contributed to our Samaritan's Feet efforts by donating money and/or shoes. We are truly thankful and honored to be a part of Niner Nation.”

49ers women at home on the road

Charlotte's women's basketball team seems to be enjoying life on the road in the Atlantic 10.

The 49ers (17-5, 5-2) have won eight straight road games, including their first four in the league. They won at  Saint Louis 75-38 last Sunday and complete a three-game road trip on Saturday at UMass. They opened the trip with a 73-62 victory at Richmond on Jan. 26.

The 49ers return to Halton Arena on Feb. 9 (George Washington) and Feb. 12 (Dayton). Charlotte's two league losses have been at home, 60-57 against Temple and 82-61 against No. 7 Xavier on Jan. 22.

The 49ers continue to hammer most of their opponents on the boards. Charlotte has had games of 50-plus rebounds seven times and outrebounded the Billikens 47-26.

And that was an area that coach Karen Aston was worried about in the preseason.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Xavier's Mack: 'It was the right call'

Xavier coach Chris Mack didn't have a problem with how that weird sequence of events ended up for his team in a 66-62 loss Wednesday to the 49ers at Halton Arena.

 "As hard as it is to swallow, it was the right call," said Mack.

When Derrio Green was allowed to retake two free throws that Chris Braswell had missed (Braswell, as it turned out, shouldn't have been in the game because he had fouled out due to an elbow he inadvertently threw at Xavier's Tu Holloway that hadn't initially been caught by the officials), most coaches might have pitched a fit. Especially when Green made them both after Braswell's misses.

But Mack saw that a correctable error had been made -- and corrected. He was graceful enough to recognize that and not make an issue out of it afterward.

Mack began his coaching career as an assistant to the late Skip Prosser at Xavier and Wake Forest. Prosser was one of the classiest guys in the profession and some of that no doubt rubbed off on Mack. Prosser would have been proud of how his protege handled a delicate situation Wednesday.


-- Wednesday's victory was Charlotte's 150th in Halton Arena.

-- Major shook up the starting lineup by adding K.J. Sherrill in favor of An'Juan Wilderness. Sherrill had career highs in points (24) and rebounds (13) Saturday against La Salle, so he earned it. He had a quieter game against Xavier, with four and four.

--  No excuses about lack of depth had Charlotte lost. The 49ers played eight; Xavier played seven.

-- Gokhan Sirin's minutes have decreased since Charles Dewhurst's return. Both had an impact against the Musketeers. Sirin made his only shot -- a 3-pointer that gave the 49ers a nine-point lead with 7:51 left -- in three minutes of play. Dewhurst played a solid floor game, with two steals, a block and an assist in 27 minutes. He also made two free throws with 24 seconds left and the Niners up by four.

Amato would 'love to' coach 49ers

Former N.C. State coach Chuck Amato has applied to be the Charlotte 49ers first head football coach.

"I'd love to be the guy there, it would be a real neat thing to do," said Amato, who took the Wolfpack to five bowl games in seven seasons and had a 49-37 record. . "The opportunity to do something from scratch, to put everything in place.That would be a different mountain to climb."

Amato, 64, was fired at N.C. State after the 2007 season, then returned for two seasons to Florida State (where he had been an assistant before) as the Seminoles' executive associate head coach. He wasn't retained on the Seminoles' staff when coach Bobby Bowden retired after the 2009 season.

Amato said he hasn't been interviewed for the job yet and hasn't heard from 49ers athletics officials. Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose has said she won't comment on the football coaching job search until a hire has been made.

But Amato has talked to Rose about the job. While visiting Charlotte last August to watch the Carolina Panthers practice, he dropped in unannounced to speak with Rose.

"They've really done their homework on (football)," said Amato. "It looks like a great situation"

Amato, who has homes in Raleigh and Tallahassee, Fla., was diagnosed with throat cancer in early 2010. He said he's "clean" of the disease now after treatment. He said he served as a consultant last summer for the Canadian Football League's Montreal Allouettes.

The 49ers have received at least 100 applications for the job (which pays $175,000 per year), but they're culling the tightly held list to about 20 realistic candidates. Rose has said she would like to have a coach hired by April 1.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Grambling State coach Rod Broadway -- a former Duke assistant and N.C. Central head coach -- might have interest, although Grambling athletics director Lin Dawson said in an email that Charlotte hasn't requested permission to talk with him.

Two other former ACC coaches have told The Observer they're not interested in the 49ers job. Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said he hadn't heard from Charlotte and had not applied. Former North Carolina coach John Bunting said he is not interested in the job.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More aggressiveness needed from Barnett

It was pretty obvious during the first half of Saturday's loss against La Salle that the 49ers were trying to get forward Javarris Barnett to shake himself out of the shooting slump he'd been mired in for four games.

After scoring in double figures in five of seven games, Barnett had been struggling, averaging 4.7 points on six-of-26 shooting against Fordham, UMass, Duquesne and Temple.

Barnett -- who's usually a spot-up 3-point shooter -- scored 16 points in the first 20 minutes against the Explorers, going to the basket, shooting off the dribble and otherwise being much more aggressive offensively. It worked for a while but he only scored three points in the second half.

If the 49ers are to emerge from the slump they're in -- four straight losses, five in the last six games -- Barnett needs to continue to contribute offensively more consistently (he's been steady on the boards, averaging 5.5 per game). He doesn't need to do it by scoring 16 points each half, but by being more of an inside-out guy. Chris Braswell is Charlotte's only low-post scorer (although K.J. Sherrill is coming around), while guards Derrio Green and Jamar Briscoe are both sub-.400 shooters from the perimeter.

Milestone games approaching at Halton

-- The next 49ers victory at Halton Arena -- whether it comes Wednesday against Xavier or later -- will be a milestone (No. 150) for the program. Charlotte is 149-48 at Halton since it opened in 1997, a winning percentage of 75.6.

Also, Charlotte will play its 200th game at Halton on Feb. 16 against Dayton.

-- Job No. 1 for the 49ers against the Musketeers on Wednesday will be to contain point guard Tu Holloway, who is having a league-MVP-caliber season. Holloway averages 21.1 points and 5.3 assists. Xavier is tied with Duquesne for the lead with a 7-0 record (15-5 overall).

-- The 49ers' Darius Law and Grant Nowell picked up conference track and field awards this week. Law is the performer of the week after winning the 200 meters at the Penn State National, running a career-best 21.23 (which also ranks second fastest in school history). Law was also second in the 400 meters and anchored Charlotte's 4 x 400 relay team that ran a 3:14.95, fifth fastest in 49ers history.

Nowell is the league's newcomer of the week after running a personal best 6.94 seconds in the 60-meter dash at the Penn State meet. It's the second fastest time in the A-10 this season.

-- 49ers freshman Gabby Tyler is the A-10's women's basketball co-rookie of the week. Tyler averaged 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in two Charlotte victories last week.