Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Observations from Dayton loss

Observations from Charlotte's 88-67 loss to Dayton on Wednesday:

49ers coach Alan Major, Pierria Henry and Chris Braswell all said the right things after the game (the 49ers' fifth loss in their past six games): That they would keep fighting, playing hard and that the season isn't over.

But the team's confidence and level of play is at such a low point right now (how else to you describe an average losing margin of 19.7 points over the last three games?), it's hard to imagine how they can get this thing turned around.

Just two weeks ago, the 49ers had beaten Butler and were a popular pick to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, or at the very least, considered on the bubble. Now, at 18-9 and 6-7 in the Atlantic 10 (and one game out of 13th place), they're in a free fall and could miss the conference tournament if they're not careful.

What once looked like a favorable schedule over the final four games of the regular season is now anything but. After losing to Dayton (which hadn't won on the road in the league until coming to Halton), Charlotte plays two teams it's tied with in the standings (at St. Bonaventure on Saturday and home against St. Joseph's on March 9). In between those games is a road trip to last-place Duquesne.

Charlotte took a huge hit with the losses of DeMario Mayfield and J.T. Thompson. The 49ers are young -- with underachieving Chris Braswell the only senior in the rotation and the rest freshmen and sophomores. They'll need to grow up quickly now.

49ers' Smith signs with MLS' Revolution

Former 49ers midfielder Donnie Smith has signed with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution.

Smith, who played in high school at Charlotte Catholic, was the Atlantic 10’s midfielder of the year last season and helped the 49ers to the College Cup championship game in 2011.

“(Smith is) fast and he knows how to get to the byline,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said on the team’s website. “I think that’s what we like most about him is his ability to put his head down and go.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Observations from Temple loss

Observations from Charlotte's 71-51 loss against Temple on Sunday:

-- As the 49ers' recent slide continues, it's hard to see them getting fully back on track unless Chris Braswell snaps out of his offensive slump. Charlotte, which shot 27.4 percent against the Owls, has no other proven scorer with DeMario Mayfield kicked off the team. Braswell was a non-factor against the Owls, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting.

-- Freshman center Mike Thorne had a career-high 10 points and seven rebounds. He was one of two 49ers to make at least half his shots, too. Thorne continues to progress and will certainly be counted on next season with Braswell gone. "He grew up before our eyes (Sunday)," said coach Alan Major.

-- Charlotte and Temple are both leaving the Atlantic 10 after this season, the 49ers to Conference USA and the Owls to the Big East. Charlotte and Temple were travel partners this season, playing each other twice and facing the other teams in the 16-school league once in the 16-game conference season.

-- It was a physical game – both teams had players called for flagrant fouls (Charlotte’s Willie Clayton and Temple’s Scootie Randall). Neither team reached the bonus in the second half, however, and Charlotte only committed nine fouls the entire game.

-- Temple’s Jake O’Brien must like to play Charlotte. O’Brien, who averaged 8.5 points before the game, scored 10 Sunday after scoring 22 against the 49ers in their first game.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mayfield dismissed from 49ers

Junior guard DeMario Mayfield, who had been suspended from the Charlotte 49ers' men's basketball team since Jan. 30 for violating athletics department policy, has been dismissed from the team, athletics director Judy Rose and coach Alan Major are announcing today.

Mayfield was 49ers' leading scorer at the time of his suspension, averaging 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Mayfield was Major's first recruit, transferring to Charlotte from Georgia in 2010.

Mayfield had already been suspended for the first two games of this season for breaking team rules.

Mayfield also was suspended for one game last season after being arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, a charge that was later dropped.

“The coaching staff wants to wish DeMario the best in his future endeavors,” Major said in a statement. “We will continue to move forward as a team.”


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Observations from St. Louis


ST. LOUIS – Observations from Charlotte’s 76-58 loss against Saint Louis:
Saturday was the 49ers’ third blowout loss on the road in the Atlantic 10 this season. But the 49ers showed an ability to bounce back in the other two, following a 20-point loss at Richmond with a victory against Xavier and a 28-pointer at George Washington with a triumph over UMass.
Charlotte gets eight days to think about this one before its next game, Feb. 24 against Temple at Halton Arena.
“There’s no excuses from here on out,” said point guard Pierria Henry, who had 15 points against the Billikens. “We can’t blame the refs, can’t blame the coaches, can’t blame each other. We’ve each got to look in the mirror and look at ourselves. We’ve got to get back in the gym and work on our craft and what we can do to perfect it. We should come back as a unit and it’ll be a different story.”
Charlotte (18-7, 6-5) has five games left in the regular season. If you include the upcoming Temple game, the 49ers are ready to conclude a tough-five game stretch in which they’re 2-2 to this point (victories against UMass and Butler, losses against Temple and Saint Louis).
After the Owls game, the regular season concludes with road games at Duquesne and St. Bonaventure and home games against Saint Joseph’s and Dayton, all second-division teams.
-- Chris Braswell’s inconsistent season continued. Braswell scored four points on 1 of 7 shooting and had four rebounds in 22 minutes. But Braswell was pretty effective in other phases of the game, with three assists and two blocks (he also turned it over three times).
-- Saint Louis came into the game allowing a league-low 57.7 points per game. The 49ers didn’t do much to change that.
-- Tempted to stay out here until Tuesday, when the Billikens host VCU. That should be a great one.
-- Both teams started the game with different offensive philosophies. Charlotte went to the rim hard and made five of its first six shots. Saint Louis relied on the 3-pointer,with Rob Loe putting up four of them before the half was over (he made one). Saint Louis later balanced its attack and led by nine at halftime.
-- Saint Louis coach Jim Crews has done a good job since taking over for Rick Majerus, who died in December. Crews still has the “interim” tag before his name, but he could have that removed it the Billikens continue to play at the level they have.
-- Two of the best names in the Atlantic 10 faced off in the backcourt: Charlotte’s Pierria Henry against Saint Louis’s Jordair Jett.
-- Braswell wore electric green socks with green polka dots. He was almost shown up by Saint Louis’s Cody Ellis, whose hair was dyed blue.
-- Henry appeared to come down awkwardly on his ankle after making a jumper midway through the first half. Henry limped to the bench, but quickly returned to the game. He said after the game he’s OK.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sizing up the 49ers' NCAA chances

The Charlotte 49ers’ 71-67 victory Wednesday at No. 11 Butler means it’s time to assess Charlotte’s NCAA tournament prospects – which have now become much more realistic.

The 49ers (18-6, 6-4 Atlantic 10) will be back on most prognosticators’ tournament bubbles this weekend as Charlotte heads back out on the road for a game Saturday at Saint Louis (18-5, 7-2), which is tied for first place in the league with Virginia Commonwealth.

A few things point in Charlotte’s favor for an at-large tournament berth – and a few things that won’t help when the selection committee takes a look at the 49ers’ resume:

-- The 49ers appear headed for a 20-win regular season. Six regular-season games remain. After Saturday’s game with the Billikens and a home game Feb. 25 against Temple, the 49ers finish with games against teams all with league records of .500 or below: Dayton, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne and St. Joseph’s.

-- Tied into that will be the 49ers’ league record, which needs to above .500 for them to be taken seriously on Selection Sunday.

-- Charlotte has three victories against top-50 RPI teams (according to Butler (17), La Salle (33) and Massachusetts (49). Charlotte also beat top-100 teams Xavier (87) and Oral Roberts (100). The 49ers have three losses outside the top 50: Florida State (66), Richmond (84) and George Washington (121).

-- Which brings us to Charlotte’s RPI, which is at 55 now and has hovered in that vicinity for the past several weeks. The committee, it’s been reported, likes an RPI of 50 or higher. The 49ers can move in that direction against Saint Louis and Temple. But the RPI won’t get much help in those last four games.

-- Which then brings us to what will probably be the 49ers’ biggest  hurdle to the tournament. Charlotte played a weak nonconference schedule (ranked 229th). As much as any factor, the committee doesn’t like weak nonconference schedules. The 49ers went 12-2 in the nonconference, losing to Miami and Florida State. The best “eyeballs” victory was at Davidson, although ORU’s RPI is higher.

-- So here’s a realistic, if challenging, scenario for the 49ers: Finish the regular season at least 22-8, 10-6 in the league. Win at least one game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Factor in all of the above and see what happens.

-- Or, of course, win the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Other notes from the Butler victory:

 -- It ranked among the 49ers’ most impressive road conference wins: Charlotte won two Conference USA road games against ranked opponents (86-83 at No. 8 Cincinnati in 2004 and 76-66 at No. 25 Marquette in 2005).

Charlotte also won at No. 7 Syracuse in 2003-04, at No. 18 Clemson in 2007-08 and at No. 20 Louisville in 2009.

-- Coach Alan Major shook up the starting lineup again, bringing Chris Braswell off the bench, from where he has been most effective this season. Braswell played scored 25 minutes and scored 11 points and had six rebounds. Freshman Darion Clark, back in the starting lineup for Braswell, responded with 10 points and nine rebounds.

-- The 49ers also shot well again. Four days after shooting 51.1 percent against VCU, Charlotte was 54.2 percent against the Bulldogs, who had been unbeaten at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Charlotte’s turnovers (12) were also lower than usual.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Observations from VCU loss

Observations from Charlotte's 67-61 loss against VCU:
-- Senior forward J.T. Thompson's knee injury is a tough blow for Charlotte, but an even tougher one for Thompson, a truly nice young man who is now dealing with his third ACL injury in three seasons (two previously at Virginia Tech).
"He's helped us out a lot," said sophomore point guard Pierria Henry. "It's his voice, the good advice he gives. Letting us know the things he's been through. He risked his body for us, now we've got to do the same for him."
Coach Alan Major said Thompson will continue to pursue his Masters degree in grad school at Charlotte. The amount of work Thompson put in to return to basketball was unbelievable and now, for a third time, it's gone for nothing. Let's wish J.T. the best.
-- Charlotte's rugged A-10 schedule continues next week with games at Butler and Saint Louis. The 49ers (17-6, 5-4) are then off for eight days before a home game against Temple on Feb. 24. The back-end of Charlotte's league schedule is made up of second-division teams Dayton, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne and Saint Joseph's.
-- VCU's defense against Charlotte was so tight that the 49ers didn’t attempt a 3-pointer in the first half.
-- Charlotte forward Darion Clark had to leave the game in the first half for the locker room after he apparently took an elbow to his left eyebrow. He came back a few minutes later with it repaired.-- The 49ers have point guard Pierria Henry now, but Virginia Commonwealth thought it had him at one time. Henry committed verbally to VCU coming out of high school in Charleston, W.Va., before he changed his mind. Henry also had an offer to play football at Marshall.

-- Charlotte coach Alan Major and VCU’s Shake Smart are old friends, and went through the Villa 7 assistant-coaching mentoring program together before they got their head-coaching jobs. 

-- It was the second well-attended game (8,794) in a row for the 49ers (they sold out their homecoming game against Massachusetts on Feb. 2). There was a sizeable group of VCU fans on hand, as well.

J.T. Thompson out with 3rd knee injury in 3 years

A third knee injury in three years likely has ended the college basketball career of Charlotte 49ers senior forward J.T. Thompson.

Thompson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Charlotte’s 89-88 defeat against Temple on Wednesday. It was the same knee he injured in 2011, which forced him to miss that season with the Hokies. He also missed the 2010-11 season with an injury to his left knee.

Thompson, a Monroe native who played two seasons at Marshville Forest Hills High, was averaging 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds this season for Charlotte. He had played in 20 games, averaging 14.8 minutes and making one start.

Thompson scored a season-high 12 points in a victory against Fordham on Jan. 16 and had at least eight points in three other games.

The 49ers are also without junior guard DeMario Mayfield, who missed his third game Saturday against Virginia Commonwealth while serving an indefinite suspension for breaking athletic department rules.   

J.T. Thompson
(Jeff Willhelm -

Friday, February 8, 2013

49ers pick up transfer from Georgia State

Linebacker Mark Hogan, Georgia State's all-time leading tackler, is transferring to Charlotte from Georgia State.

Hogan will be playing on his second start-up next fall. He was on the Panthers' original team in 2010.

Hogan started three seasons at Georgia State and ended his career there with 157 tackles  -- including 10.5 for a loss -- and two interceptions. Last season against Tennessee, Hogan had nine tackles, one for a loss, and forced a fumble. He was named to the Capital One Academic all-district first team in 2012.

Hogan (6-0, 210) played high school football at Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.), but his parents live in Matthews. His dad is a former player at Georgia Tech and played there under Georgia State's Bill Curry, who recently announced his retirement.

Hogan is the seventh transfer added to the 49ers' roster since fall practice ended. He's graduated from Georgia State and will be a grad student at Charlotte.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Charlotte 49ers signing day updates

Here's a list of the 49ers' Wednesday football signings so far. Check back for updates throughout the day.

James Williams, DB, 6-0, 175,  Golden West (Calif.) Junior College: Attended Golden West after playing high school ball in Carson, Calif.

Eugene German, OT, 6-5, 250, Martinsburg, W.Va.: Had an early offer from Marshall before committing to Charlotte.
Nick Carroll, DT, 6-5, 232, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons: Originally committed to Old Dominion, but instead will attend Charlotte. Also recruited by several Southern Conference and Colonial Athletic Association teams. First-team all-Carolina 3A selection last season.
Martay Mattox, DB/WR, 6-1, 192, East Mississippi CC: Originally committed to South Carolina, left there after redshirting 2011 season. Was a top quarterback in high school in Athens, Ga., but will play either DB or WR at Charlotte.
Trent Bostick, WR, 6-1, 193, Richmond Senior: Might also be a slot back for 49ers, was also recruited by East Carolina, Elon and Appalachian State.
Blake Brewer, K, 6-1, 190, Concord Cannon School: Also had interest from North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Tennessee.

Chris Duffy, RB/ATH, 5-11, 190, Porter Ridge: Rushed for 132 yards and three TDs in state championship loss to New Bern, also had five tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception from linebacker spot.

Jordan Starnes, LB, 6-3, 225, South Stanly: Another Shrine Bowl player, reportedly also had interest from N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Appalachian State.

Nolan Corpening, DB, 5-10, 170, Vance: Accounted for more than 1,000 yards in total offense as rusher and receiver, had three interceptions on defense.
Jamar Winston, DE, 6-8, 240, Dutch Fork, S.C.: Played on state championship runner-up team this season for former Independence coach Tom Knotts.

Nick Halmon, DB, 6-0, 180, Bamberg-Erhardt (S.C.):  All-stater played December’s weekend’s North-South all-star game in Myrtle Beach.

Justin Bridges-Thompson, DB, 6-2, 195, Spartanburg: Also had interest from  Arizona, Hampton, Memphis, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

Dustin Crouser, LB, 6-2, 220, Charleston, W.Va.: Missed second half of senior season with knee injury.

Devon Johnson, DE, 6-3, 275, Georgia Military College: Originally from Aiken, S.C., went to junior college first.

Tevin Lawshe, OT, 6-4, 275, Mallard Creek: Four-star recruit had several other offers, including East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Elon.
Jachin Watkins, RB, 6-0, 215, New Bern: Scored four touchdowns against fellow 49ers commit Chris Duffy and Porter Ridge in state championship game.

Devin Pearson, DB/ATH, 5-10, 175, Rock Hill South Pointe: Helped Stallions to berth in state semifinals.
Kalif Phillips, RB, 5-10, 190, Kannapolis Brown: Averaged 155.6 yards rushing for Wonders this season, played in Shrine Bowl.
Wolfgang Zacherl, 6-4, 272, Raleigh Broughton: Chose Charlotte over Liberty, also had interest from Air Force, Appalachian State, Duke. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Observations: Charlotte 49ers 66, UMass 65

Observations from Charlotte's 66-65 victory Saturday against UMass:

• Coach Alan Major cringed when Pierria Henry admitted to fouling Massachusetts' Chaz Williams on Henry's steal at the end of the game.

"I fouled him," said Henry. "But it ain't in the record books."

I don't blame Major, who might hear from the Atlantic 10 office on that. But it's refreshing to hear that kind of honesty from players.

• It's also hard to underestimate the importance of the win against a good UMass team while playing without DeMario Mayfield and Darion Clark. The schedule gets tougher over the next five games and, at 5-2 in the Atlantic 10 (17-4 overall), the 49ers need all the cushion they can get in their record as they head to Temple on Wednesday, play a home game Feb. 9 against Virginia Commonwealth then play road games against Saint Louis and No. 9 Butler before a home contest against Temple on Feb. 25.

• Mayfield served the first game of an indefinite suspension for violating athletics department policy. Center Chris Braswell also didn't start for disciplinary reasons. "A brief life lesson," said coach Alan Major. Braswell will likely be back in the starting lineup Wednesday at Temple. Clark (ankle) should be back for Temple.

• In addition to Henry's steal at the end of the game, the 49ers did a good job on Williams, especially in the first half when they limited him to five points and one assist. Williams' second field goal was a desperate, long 3-pointer - about 35 feet - as the shot clock expired.

• There was a good homecoming crowd and announced sellout of 9,105, Charlotte's largest of the season and largest since also drawing 9,105 against Xavier in 2010. The 49ers celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1987-88 team that won the Sun Belt championship and played in the NCAA tournament. It was Charlotte's first trip to the tournament since the 1977 team made it to the final four. Stars on that Jeff Mullins-coached team were Byron Dinkins, Dan Plondke and Cedric Ball.

• At least one player in the alumni game earlier at Halton was seen watching the 49ers and Minutemen while icing down a sore knee.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Homecoming moving to football, fall

It’s homecoming weekend at UNC Charlotte and it’s also the final time the festivities will take place around a men’s basketball game.

With football beginning later this year, homecoming will move to the fall. The first football homecoming will be the weekend of Oct. 12, when the 49ers host UNC Pembroke.

The men’s basketball program will continue to have its alumni gathering and old-timers game, as it is doing Saturday at 11:15 a.m. before the 49ers play Massachusetts at Halton Arena.

“We have Halton Arena and our locker room, our weight room, academic center and all of this because of the sweat those guys laid out,” said 49ers coach Alan Major, who also hosts a reunion dinner at his house every summer.

 Here’s a list of former players who are expected to play:

Joe Badgett, Dan Banister, Reggie Barnes, Byron Dinkins, Chris Dwiggins,  Tremaine Gardner, George Jackson, Brad Mulkey, Sean Phaler, Spencer Singleton, Bershuan Thompson, Irvin Williamson,

Attending but not playing:
 Ben Basinger, Robert Earl Blue, Jack Bolly, Todd Crowley, Norris Dae, Earl “Slim” Duncan, Cass Ferguson, Scott Fitzgibbons, Butch Gilbert, Travis Gordon, B. Stanley Graham, Ray Gromlowicz, Jeff Gruber, Richard Guffy, Gary Gummerson, Jon Heath, Jimmy James, Kevin King, Donnie Koonce, Lew Massey, Carroll Mizelle, Dan Plondke, Michael Pulley, Chad Setzer, Johnathan Shaw, Rod Stallings, Michael Stikeleather, David Taylor, T.J. Tison, Mike Washington, Roy Wells, Lee Whitfield, Johnathan Williams, Stephen Doughton, Matt Messina.       

Referee: Roderick Howard.

49ers pick up former Gamecock

The Charlotte 49ers football team has picked up an impressive transfer -- wide receiver/defensive back Martay Mattox of East Mississippi Community College. Mattox originally signed with South Carolina out of high school.

Mattox (6-2, 180) caught 43 passes for 583 yards and six touchdowns last season for East Mississippi.

Mattox was one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country in Athens, Ga., but South Carolina had plans for him as a defensive back when he signed with the Gamecocks in 2011. Mattox enrolled at USC in January 2011 and took part in spring practice.

He didn't play in 2011 and was redshirted before he left the program at the end of the season.

He's not expected to play quarterback at Charlotte, and will likely be either a receiver or defensive back.