Here's a brief preview of Wednesday's Charlotte-Toledo WNIT semifinal (8 p.m., Savage Arena, Toledo, Ohio, CBS College Sports Network):
Like the 49ers (27-9), the Rockets (27-8) aren’t a star-driven team. Toledo’s best player is guard Naama Shafir, a first-team all-Mid-American Conference selection who averages 14.6 points and 5.0 assists. On the inside, forward Melissa Goodall averages 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.
The 49ers -- who already have set a school record for victories -- have been led by senior guard Shannon McCallum, who is averaging 23.3 points in her last three games.
The 49ers-Rockets winner will face the winner of Wednesday's other semifinal between Southern California and Illinois State on Saturday. That game will be on one of the team's homecourts, but not Halton Arena, which is booked with another event.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Here's a brief preview of Wednesday's Charlotte-Toledo WNIT semifinal (8 p.m., Savage Arena, Toledo, Ohio, CBS College Sports Network):
Monday, March 28, 2011
49ers news and notes:
-- Wednesday's Charlotte-Toledo WNIT semifinal game will be televised on the CBS College Sports Network (check your local listings) at 8 p.m. The game was moved from 7 p.m. to get it on TV.
Here's how to find CBS College Sports Network for your area and provider:
-- 49ers men's basketball forward K.J. Sherrill is having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this week after he chipped some cartilage recently in practice. It's the same knee that Sherrill injured last fall and that kept him out of the first several games of the season. The procedure is just to clean out the damage, nothing serious.
-- Charlotte football coach Brad Lambert will throw out the first pitch Tuesday when the 49ers face No. 16 North Carolina at 6 p.m. in a baseball game at Hayes Stadium.
Charlotte (19-6) opened its Atlantic 10 season by winning two of three games from Rhode Island over the weekend. The 49ers, however, were plagued by seven errors in a 9-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday. Freshman Micah Bryan (1-0, 3.86 ERA) will start for the 49ers against the Tar Heels (23-3), who have won nine in a row.
-- Senior Whitney Williams recently broke Charlotte's career softball stolen bases record with her 88th ... Junior Charles Martin-Lecamp is the Atlantic 10's men's tennis player of the week. Martin-Lecampe won both his matches at the No. 1 singles spot last week against Duquesne and Tennessee Tech (both in three sets) ... Two school records fell at last week's 49er Classic at Belk Track-- junior Jake Deaton broke his own record in the discus (176-04) and Lindsey Pate set a record in the women's javelin (133-07) ... The 49ers golf team is in seventh place after two days of the Linger Longer Invitational in Greensboro, Ga. Charlotte's Paul Ferrier is tied for ninth individually.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The 49ers will face Toledo in the semifinals of the Women's NIT at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Rockets' Savage Arena.
The Rockets (27-8) have traveled a similar road to Charlotte (27-9) in making it this far. They've beaten two SEC teams (Auburn and Alabama), as have the 49ers (South Carolina and Florida). Then Toledo knocked off the Big East's Syracuse 71-68 in overtime on Sunday (Charlotte beat the ACC's Virginia on Saturday).
Both teams lost in the semifinals of their conference tournament -- Charlotte to Xavier in the Atlantic 10; Toledo to Eastern Michigan in the Mid-American.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Now that the Charlotte 49ers have advanced to the semifinals of the Women's NIT, they'll have to wait a while before finding out what's next.
Here's what Charlotte knows following its 79-74 victory Saturday against Virginia: The 49ers will play the winner of Sunday afternoon's Syracuse-at-Toledo game. When that result is in, then we'll know when the game will be played (probably Wednesday or Thursday) and where (the WNIT will figure that out quickly).
With Halton Arena booked for much of the week with a CMS science fair and a social function over the weekend, athletics director Judy Rose has put in a bid for the 49ers to host the semifinal game at Bojangles' Coliseum. If that happens, it won't come cheap: The arena charges a hefty rental fee.
There's a lot that goes into a decision as to where the tournament's games are played: Attendance, a school's commitment to women's basketball, arena availability, media coverage, etc.
Charlotte has averaged 1,438 at Halton Arena this season, Syracuse 1,119 at the Carrier Dome (let's hope they use curtains) and Toledo 2,484 at Savage Arena.
It probably won't help the 49ers' chances at hosting the semifinal game that two of their lowest-attended home games this season have come in the WNIT, 428 against Liberty and 662 against Florida.
The other half of the WNIT bracket has two games today, as well: Southern California at Colorado and Arkansas at Illinois State.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday's heart-stopping WNIT overtime victory by the 49ers against Florida has given the team a fresh dose of confidence.
As in, as long as they've made it this far -- to the quarterfinals Saturday at Virginia -- they might as well make the most of it.
"After (Thursday)? I think we're thinking about being able to win the WNIT," said Charlotte forward Jennifer Hailey. "Playing in front of that kind of crowd and having it end the way it did, I think we know what we're capable of doing as we finish off this season. We have that feeling from (Thursday) fresh in our minds. So maybe we can make it."
49ers coach Karen Aston sensed that in her team after Charlotte beat South Carolina in the second round. She's also really happy with the leadership she's seeing from the team's only two seniors -- Shannon McCallum and Kendria Holmes.
"It can usually go one of two ways with seniors at this stage," Aston said. "Anytime you're in postseason play and it's the WNIT as opposed to the NCAA, you might be disappointed you didn't make (the NCAA tournament). Sometimes seniors might be thinking they might want to get on with their lives. But ours just want to keep playing basketball. That says volumes about them."
Charlotte (26-9) at Virginia (19-15), 7 p.m.
Syracuse (24-9) at Toledo (26-8), 2 p.m.
Arkansas (22-11) at Illinois State (23-10), 2 p.m.
Southern California (22-12) at Colorado, 2 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
There's a strong 49ers connection to the soon-to-be-released movie "The 5th Quarter."
The movie is about the Luke Abbate, the younger brother of former Wake Forest linebacker Jon Abbate. Luke was killed in an auto accident at the age of 15 in 2006. Jon Abbate switched his uniform number to 5 in honor of Luke (who wore that number) and the Deacons raised all five fingers in the air at the beginning of the fourth quarter of their games during the 2006 season, the year Wake won the ACC championship and played in the Orange Bowl.
Charlotte football coach Brad Lambert and 49ers offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen were both on the Deacons staff at the time. Lambert coached Jon Abbate on defense. Mullen recruited Abbate to Wake Forest. There's even a character for Lambert in the movie: He's played by an actor named Justin Smith.
"We went down for Luke's funeral," said Lambert. "It was really tough. That's not something any family should have to go through, losing a son who's just (15)."
Lambert missed the film's premiere last week in Winston-Salem, but got a call from Jon Abbate earlier this week.
The movie will have a limited release on Friday (check listings). There's also a website for a foundation for Luke Abatte: http://www.lukeabbate5thquarter.org/
Monday, March 21, 2011
Charlotte 49ers will face Florida in a third-round Women's NIT game Thursday at Halton Arena. The Gators (20-14) are coached by former 49ers coach Amanda Butler and beat Florida Gulf Coast 74-69 in a second-round game Monday. The 49ers (25-9), who have beaten Liberty and South Carolina in the WNIT, lost to Butler and the Gators 76-70 in the Preseason WNIT in Gainesville, Fla.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Charlotte 49ers take another step on their postseason journey Sunday when they face South Carolina in a second-round Women’s NIT game at 2 p.m. in Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena.
The 49ers, who already have broken a school record for victories (24) beat Liberty 62-56 Wednesday in the first round. South Carolina (18-14) beat Appalachian State.
It’s been two years since the 49ers and Gamecocks have played. South Carolina beat Charlotte 70-66 in overtime in Halton Arena in 2009. The Gamecocks lead the series 16-5.
Charlotte (24-9) is led by guards Shannon McCallum and Epiphany Wilson, who average 12.2 points each. South Carolina, who are coached by former Charlotte Sting great Dawn Staley, gets 12.1 points per game from Ieasia Walker.
The 49ers-Gamecocks winner will play the winner of Monday’s game between Florida and Florida Gulf Coast in the third round.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The 49ers will play Liberty in the first round of the Women's NIT on Wednesday at Halton Arena (game time will be set Tuesday).
Charlotte (23-9) is one of five Atlantic 10 teams in the field, joining Duquesne, Richmond, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's.
Liberty (22-10) got the automatic bid from the Big South.
Other games involving N.C. teams: Appalachian State at South Carolina (Wednesday) and UNC Wilmington at Richmond (Thursday).
Monday, March 14, 2011
-- The Charlotte 49ers get a dose of ACC baseball competition this week, as they host Wake Forest Tuesday at 6 p.m. and play at Duke on Wednesday. Charlotte (12-3) just won two games in a three-game series against Ball State.
Righthander Joe Yermal (0-0) will start for Charlotte against the Deacons (6-9), who took two out of three over the weekend against North Carolina. Duke (13-4) just won two of three against N.C. State and is home Tuesday against N.C. Central before facing Charlotte on Wednesday at Jack Coombs Field.
-- Charlotte pitcher Corey Roberts (Olympic High) was named co-player of the week in the Atlantic 10. Roberts threw the 49ers' first complete game since 2009 when he beat Ball State 7-1 on Saturday. Roberts is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.33.
It's the fourth straight week the 49ers have had a player win conference honors: Outfielder Tony Montalbano was the player of the week for February 21 and Micah Bryan and Justin Seager were named the league's top rookies the next two weeks.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Sophomore starting pitcher Corey Roberts, a former Olympic High star, tied his season high of nine strikeouts and pitched a complete game in the Charlotte 49ers' 9-1 home baseball rout of Ball State (2-12).
Shane Basen and Tony Montalbano had three RBIs each for Charlotte (11-3).
-- Observer News Services
Friday, March 11, 2011
The Charlotte 49ers will play the Charlotte Knights in a baseball exhibition on April 5 at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill.
The game, which will start at 7:15 p.m., will last nine innings and both teams will use wood bats.
It's the first time the Class AAA Knights have played an exhibition against a college team. The Knights open their season April 7 at home against Norfolk.
“What a great opportunity for UNC Charlotte and our baseball program,” Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said in a statement. “The Knights have been a major part of this community for years and we are very excited to enter in to a partnership with such a first class organization. This is a win-win situation for all of us.”
A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the 49ers' baseball program. Ticket information will be released later.
- Friday night, Charlotte starting pitcher Andrew Smith tied his career high with eight strikeouts, but the 49ers (10-3) could not get their offense going in a 7-1 home loss to Ball State (2-11).
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
49ers odds and ends:
-- Charlotte was completely shut out (I know that's redundant, but I'm using it for effect) of the Atlantic 10 men's basketball post-season awards list. Even Chris Gaston of last-place Fordham made honorable mention all-conference.
Xavier's Tu Holloway was named player of the year and Musketeers coach Chris Mack coach of the year.
-- Watch for the 49ers to get a Women's NIT bid on Monday night (after the NCAA field is announced).
-- 49ers first baseman Justin Seager is the Atlantic 10's rookie of the week. Seager, who is from Kannapolis, is hitting .400 and has a homer. The 49ers (9-2) play Tennessee Tech today and Wednesday at Hayes Stadium (4 p.m. both games) and weekend series at home against Ball State.
-- I'm told there's nothing to the idea that Charlotte has turned down an offer to join the Colonial Athletic Association as a full member. That doesn't mean there haven't been discussions (there have) or that such an offer might not be forthcoming (it could). But Charlotte is only interested in finding a temporary spot for its football program and wants to keep the rest of its sports in the Atlantic 10. Of the three leagues Charlotte has been talking to, it doesn't appear the CAA or the Southern Conference would be interested in such an arrangement. The Big South might be, however (Stony Brook is a football-only, temporary member now).
But things are in flux in the CAA, with UMass and Rhode Island (football-only members) leaving and Villanova (another football-only school) considering a move to the Big East. When the dust settles, maybe the CAA would consider Charlotte as a football-only member.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Atlantic 10 men's basketball all-conference and postseason awards:
First team: Lavoy Allen, Temple; Kevin Anderson, Richmond; Justin Harper, Richmond; Tu Holloway, Xavier; Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure.
Second team: Bill Clark, Duquesne; Delroy James, Rhode Island; Ramone Moore, Temple;Damian Saunders, Duquesne; Tony Taylor, George Washington.
Third team: Juan Fernandez, Temple; Anthony Gurley, Massachusetts; Mark Lyons, Xavier; Jamel McLean, Xavier; Chris Wright, Dayton.
Honorable mention: Kenny Frease, Xavier; Chris Gaston, Fordham; Chris Johnson, Dayton; Scootie Randall, Temple.
All-defensive: Lavoy Allen, Temple; Tu Holloway, Xavier; Marquis Jones, Rhode Island;Damian Saunders, Duquesne; Kevin Smith, Richmond.
All-rookie: Tyreek Duren, La Salle; Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis; Langston Galloway, Saint Joseph’s; T.J. McConnell, Duquesne; Juwan Staten, Dayton.
All-academic: Brian Conklin, Saint Louis; Paul Eckerle, Saint Louis; Juan Fernandez, Temple; Will Martell, Rhode Island; Steve Weingarten, La Salle.
Player of the Year: Tu Holloway, Xavier
Rookie of the Year: T.J. McConnell, Duquesne
Defensive Player of the Year: Damian Saunders, Duquesne
Chris Daniels Most Improved Player of the Year: Scootie Randall, Temple
Sixth Man of the Year: Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Student-Athlete of the Year: Steve Weingarten, La Salle
Coach of the Year: Chris Mack, Xavier
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The Charlotte 49ers' season opened their season with a loss against Gardner-Webb and ended it Saturday with another against Saint Joseph's.
In between, it was a lot of the same, translating into a 10-20 overall record, 2-14 in the Atlantic 10.
Except for a four-game winning streak in December, the 49ers never found much traction this season, having to figure out new coach Alan Major's system and playing without two of their top players -- Shamari Spears (kicked off the team in December) and Phil Jones (declared academically ineligible in January).
Then there were early-season injuries to guard Charles Dewhurst and forward K.J. Sherrill and the season-long ineligibility of freshman point guard Luka Voncina.
The high points: A four-game winning streak in December that included victories against Tennessee and Georgia Tech. An upset of Xavier at Halton Arena.
The lows: Losing the season opener against Gardner-Webb and the sum of the Atlantic 10 season, capped by Charlotte's failure to make the conference tournament.
Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said Saturday he was impressed with how the 49ers kept playing hard -- something he probably had also noticed from watching tape of earlier games.
But, let's face it, that's what an opposing coach says when he can't really find anything else nice to say about the opposing team.
-- The 49ers will return four starters (if you count Derrio Green instead of senior Charles Dewhurst as a starter this year). With this kind of team, is that a good or bad thing?
-- Luka Voncina and transfer DeMario Mayfield will be eligible. Four freshmen are coming in.
-- It's going to be important for center Chris Braswell to get stronger inside. He's got to be able to get to the rim with more authority.
-- Forward K.J. Sherrill and wing Javarris Barnett need to take the next step. Sherrill can be a force inside. Barnett had moments of brilliance, but couldn't sustain them. He can be that rare inside-outside threat with his shooting touch and 6-7 frame.
-- Don't be surprised to see the starting backcourt of Green and Deuce Briscoe be pushed -- hard -- by Mayfield and Voncina next season. Also, expect 6-3 guard Pierria Henry, one of the top prep players in West Virginia, to be a factor.
-- The front court will get some depth from 6-9 freshman Mike Thorne. Two other recruits -- forward E. Victor Nickerson and guard Terrence Williams (West Meck) -- will give Major the kind of depth he didn't come close to having this season.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The 49ers are heading into the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament in less-than stellar shape.
The fifth-seed 49ers (21-8, 9-5) face No. 12 Massachusetts (7-22, 3-11) in a 2:30 p.m. game Friday in the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass., without suspended forward Paige McCallum, backup guard Katie Meador (out for season with a knee injury) and possibly freshman forward Gabby Tyler, who is recovering from a sprained ankle.
“We’ve had some things snow ball on us recently,” said Charlotte coach Karen Aston. “We were rolling along, then we stumbled a little bit and we haven’t been able to catch back up.”
What once had the makings of a special season now appears to be teetering on the brink. The 49ers have lost three of their last four games, and needed to win just one of their final two to clinch third place and a first-round bye in the tournament. But Charlotte lost to Duquesne, then to St. Bonaventure last week to fall to fifth.
They’re playing without McCallum, a sophomore who has been a constant disciplinary challenge for Aston and is suspended for the season for “team issues.” Meador had been averaging about 10 minutes a game, but she’ll miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
There’s hope that Tyler, who made the league’s all-rookie team but missed the St. Bonaventure game with a sprained ankle, will be back Friday.
Charlotte still has a solid core, led by second-team all-conference guard Shannon McCallum (who’s had to play some forward in the absence of her sister Paige and Tyler), guards Epiphany Wilson and Kendria Holmes, and forwards Amanda Dowe and Jen Hailey.
“We can erase some of these memories,” said Aston, whose team would play No. 4 Richmond at 2:30 p.m. Saturday if it wins Friday. “We can get it going again.”
Charlotte guard Derrio Green admits to do doing some scoreboard watching during the 49ers’ 68-48 loss on Wednesday at Xavier.
Green, gesturing to the scoreboard after the game, said: “I kept checking the score up there to see what (Saint Joseph’s was) were doing.”
Green was making sure Saint Joseph’s -- Charlotte’s opponent Saturday at 2 p.m. in Halton Arena -- was getting beat, too. And since the Hawks eventually fell to Richmond, that gives Saturday's game between two of the league’s worst teams some unlikely intrigue: The winner between the 49ers (10-19, 2-13 Atlantic 10) and the Hawks (8-21, 3-12) takes the 12th and final spot in the league’s tournament.
Had Saint Joseph’s upset the Spiders, the Hawks would have clinched the 12th spot with Charlotte’s loss against the Musketeers. As it is, Saint Joseph’s and Charlotte will play for the right to travel Tuesday to the fifth-seed -- either George Washington, Duquesne or Rhode Island -- for a first-round tournament game. The tournament moves to Atlantic City, N.J., next weekend.
The 49ers will also send off seniors An’Juan Wilderness and Charles Dewhurst in their final home game. A good performance for them -- which could translate into a tournament berth -- gives the day an added significance to Green.
“I’m going to give everything I’ve got (for the seniors),” said Green. “I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, but we’re doing it for our two seniors. We’re going to send them out on a high note. I feel like we’re going to be in the A-10 tournament.”
Wilderness and Dewhurst have both battled injuries throughout their careers, but have been among the 49ers’ steadier players this season (although Dewhurst missed the first several games with knee and finger injuries).
“Knock on wood, (Wilderness) has been healthy all season to this point,” said coach Alan Major. “Dewhurst has continued to keep coming back with unbelievable will, something that I don’t know if I would have the courage to do what he’s been through.
“The conference tournament is huge for us to achieve, but we want to give as much back to these (seniors) who have given so much to our program.”
-- The status of point guard Jamar Briscoe (back) for Saturday is being closely monitored. Briscoe was injured Tuesday in practice and didn’t play against Xavier. But he's expected to play against Saint Joseph's.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Charlotte guard Shannon McCallum has made the all-Atlantic 10's women's second team, while freshman Gabby Tyler made the all-rookie team, the league announced today.
McCallum averages 12.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the 49ers, who open play in the league tournament at 2:30 Friday against UMass at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.
Tyler, a 6-foot-2 forward, averages 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Xavier's Amber Harris was named the league's player of the year for a second straight year.
Other honors: Wumi Agunbiade, Duquesne, rookie of the year; Ta'Shia Phillips, Xavier, defensive player of the year; Ashley Prim, Saint Joseph's, sixth player of the year; Ashley Gale, La Salle, most improved; Tonya Cardoza, Temple, coach of the year; Kristin Daugherty, Dayton, student-athlete of the year.
Here's more from new 49ers football coach Brad Lambert, in Q&A form, some from his news conference and some from a one-on-one interview I had with him later:
Q: What kind of offensive and defense will the 49ers play?
“Offensively, you’ve got to be able to throw the ball and spread it both horizontally and vertically. That’s what drives you crazy as a defense. But you’ve got to run it well. When I was at Georgia and we played Florida, what coach (Steve) Spurrier would annihilate us with was when they would run over 100 yards in addition to having a big passing day.
“On defense, we’re going to be an attacking 3-4 team. That’s primarily where we need to focus. We’ll look for a good nose guard and two outside linebackers. They can be undersized, but we can work with them.”
Q: You're a defensive guy. Talk about your philosophy.
"Our guys will play with great discipline, but they'll play like their hair's on fire. We want to play right on that edge. You can't get a personal foul, but you're right at that edge until the whistle blows. You can't go over the edge. We're gonna knock people down, help them back up, then knock them down again."
Q: And your philosophy with dealing with players as students and regular kids?
"We've got to have great communication. You've got to care about them more than just as players. You have to know that you can't just hope to motivate them at 2 o'clock on Saturdays before a football game. It takes work and it's not easy. You have to look at them as kids, who have problems like anybody else. It's easy to look the other way and not to get involved in their lives. But you can't say, Hey, make sure you play well and get motivated to be the best they can be, without being involved in their lives."
Q: What’s your biggest worry about the job?
“The unknowns that are going to come up. How are we going to handle these two years without games to coach? I’m asking guys like coach (offensive coordinator Jeff) Mullen to come and not coach for two years, but to be willing to be committed and take a little risk. August is going to come around and we’re going to say, ‘Where are the players?’ “
Q: How will you spend the time?
“The number one negative of our situation is not coaching for a couple of years. How are we going to deal with that? Well, in addition to recruiting, we’ll go out and study how other schools who are just starting football are doing it, like Texas-San Antonio, Georgia State and Old Dominion. Coach (Jim) Grobe told me, usually for a guy to be able to go and study how other people do it, you have to get fired to do that.”
Q: Where will your main recruiting areas be?
"Primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. I'm thinking the recruiting guy we hire will have to be a guy with big North Carolina ties. That's big with me."
Q: What’s the main attraction in starting a program from scratch?
“It’s great to be able to start your own deal. You can put your fingerprint on it and look back 10 or 20 years from now and see if we built it the right way.”
Q: Can you talk about your decision to hire Jeff Mullen as your offensive coordinator?
"That was a complete steal for us. It's been truly fun to watch him coach over the years and watch him develop guys like Riley Skinner (at Wake Forest). Even at West Virginia (where Mullen was fired in December) they won a lot of games. He had, like, three quarterbacks in three years there."
Q: What do you expect in the first few weeks on the job?
"It's gonna be chaos! We have a lot media to do, going out and getting to know the community and I want my first staff (two others) hired by April 1. But I still don't know where our offices are going to be, things like that. But we need to make sure we get all that ironed out before (April 15) when we go out on the road (recruiting)."
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
With several of his former Wake Forest players on hand, Lambert was introduced as the 49ers' coach at a news conference earlier today.
Lambert had some news: He announced that Jeff Mullen, a former offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at West Virginia who was also an assistant with him at Wake Forest, will be Charlotte's first offensive coordinator. Mullen also said he would hire a defensive coordinator soon, and probably a recruiting coordinator.
Lambert signed a 6-year deal worth $250,000 per year, with a clause to renegotiate in the spring of 2013 -- just a few months before the 49ers' first game.. Charlotte had originally budgeted $175,000 per year for the job, but increased it during the search process to make it more attractive.
Lambert, 46, was an assistant at Wake Forest for 10 seasons, the most recent three as defensive coordinator. Former Deacons standouts including quarterback Riley Skinner, linebackers Aaron Curry, Stanley Arnoux and cornerback Alphonso Smith were at the news conference. Will Witherspoon, a linebacker who played for Lambert when he was an assistant at Georgia, was also there.
Lambert and Mullen can't begin recruiting until April 15. Lambert said until then, he'll focus on hiring other coaches and work on logistics -- details such as business cards and recruiting travel plans.