Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bobcats don't do 49ers any favor

Some thoughts after Wednesday’s Charlotte-La Salle game:
First, off the court: You’re telling me that of the 41 home games the Charlotte Bobcats have this season they believed the best time to offer free tickets to UNC Charlotte students was the same night as one of the 49ers’ 14 home basketball games? You have to be kidding. I understand the Bobcats’ desire to tap into the marketplace, and fans of Charlotte 49ers basketball are likely to want to attend an NBA game. But the same night as a Charlotte home game? Wow, that shows a lot of ignorance or a lot of disrespect. I’m not sure what is worse.
Second, on the court: This season’s team is just not as fast and agile and its defense not as good as previous Charlotte teams. Athletic teams kill the 49ers. One thing this team does not do is quit. Down 14 midway through the second half, they could have easily packed this one in and turned their attention to Xavier, but they chose to fight. Charlotte got tremendous play from E.J. Drayton and Leemire Goldwire down the stretch and they hit 24 straight free-throw attempts (this is not a typo)! That goes to show that in most games, fundamentals can still pull you through.
On to Xavier ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Abuse of authority at work in student removals

Here is my take on the students getting thrown out of Sunday's Charlotte-UMass game:

Originally when I heard about it I intended to find out the details and write a blog entry saying something about how important student participation and its vocal support is, but there are lines that have to be drawn regarding vulgar language, intoxication, things of that nature. But the more I discovered the more I realized none of those things applied. This was a case of people hired to do a job and taking upon themselves authority they did not have.

I'm sure the athletics department wasn't thrilled with this story, I'm even more sure the department wasn't happy learning of the incident from the media. That should never happen. In any case, I am a big believer that if you know the rules going in and elect not to follow them, you forfeit your right to complain. However, I also am a big believer that if the same people who enforce the rules elect not to follow the rules spelled out to them in how to do that, then they bear the responsibility of their actions.

Click here to read the story.

My "investigation" into what happened Sunday was not done to promote outrageous, vulgar or other "disruptive" behavior at basketball games. In the end, it was a simple case of right vs. wrong. What the security personnel did was wrong, plain and simple. And if highlighting the incident prevents similar wrongs from being repeated, so much the better.

Monday, January 29, 2007

NCAA dreams? Not many in A-10

If the Atlantic 10 has any hope of sending more than one team to the NCAA tournament this season, it had better hope either Xavier or George Washington win out their regular season, then lose in the conference tournament.

Otherwise, without a stellar record, there is nobody going except the tournament champ. Xavier comes closest to making it based on out of conference schedule, but its best wins are over Illinois, Villanova and a pretty good Virginia Commonwealth team.

In its "big games" it lost to nationally-ranked Alabama and a sub-par Cincinnati team. The Musketeers even lost to Bucknell. Maybe they don't deserve a trip either.

I guess the final hope lies in George Washington -- a hard pill to swallow for 49ers fans. With a 15-4 record, the Colonials appear in the best position to end with a good enough record to force the NCAA to take them. But as has become common with them, they lack quality out of conference wins.

The ridiculous number of upset wins in conference play already lends me to believe the A-10 will end the season where it is now, with no nationally ranked teams and one team -- the conference tournament champion -- appearing in the NCAAs.

There are some wonderful parting gifts in the NIT/A-10 tournament this year I'm sure.

Massachusetts - Charlotte Observations

• Despite the team's struggles this season, Charlotte 49ers coach Bobby Lutz was greeted by cheers of "Bob-by, Bob-by" from the student section before the game.

• If there were a statistic for missed chip shots, Charlotte and Massachusetts would be among the Atlantic 10 leaders. At least half a dozen times, UMass or Charlotte players shot from next to or underneath the basket, only to see the ball roll around, bounce on or off the rim -- everything except go in.

• Sunday's announced paid attendance was 7,679, the highest at Halton Arena this season. The only other game remaining likely to come close to it is the March 1 game against George Washington.

• The 49ers were in the game until the end. But in this up-and-down season, there is at least one truism -- Charlotte has yet to win (0-8) when it shoots less than 40 percent from the field. The 49ers shot 36.8 percent Sunday.

Victor Davila, a 6-foot-8, 223-pound junior forward at Starmount High in Booneville, made an unofficial visit to Charlotte and attended Sunday's game. He is also being recruited by Wake Forest, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Appalachian State, among others.

-- Jim Utter

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Inside the A10: Jim Utter's Analysis


DUQUESNE: The Dukes might not have many wins, but they certainly make them count. UP

RHODE ISLAND: The Rams showed they were legit with their win against Massachusetts. UP

CHARLOTTE'S DEFENSE: The 49ers have allowed their past two opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the field. DOWN

3 Key Matchups

GEORGE WASHINGTON at RHODE ISLAND: Another test for the Rams as they try to remain in first place in the conference.

DAYTON at XAVIER: Dayton is undefeated at home, but the Flyers have struggled on the road this season. Both teams need the win to stay within striking distance for the regular-season title.

MASSACHUSETTS at CHARLOTTE: Maybe the comforts of home will give the 49ers some assistance in Sunday's showdown with the Minutemen. Charlotte is 5-2 at home this season with losses to North Texas and Saint Joseph's.

Key Stats

Rebounds per game by UMass' Stephane Lasme, best in the league.

Charlotte's rank out of 14 teams in field-goal percentage this season.

Average minutes played by Saint Louis guard Tommie Liddell, highest in the league.


For the college basketball fan, the range of upsets in the Atlantic 10 so far makes for an unpredictable and exciting season. But, that will likely hurt the conference. In leagues that feature several teams that are nationally ranked or that have a high Ratings Percentage Index score, losses within conference play don't hurt as much. Atlantic 10 teams have struggled in nonconference play this season, and none are ranked. In the end, those conference upset losses will take a far heavier toll, particularly for teams hoping for an NCAA at-large bid.

It's almost to the point now where Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz should take some chances on his player rotation to see if it sparks worthwhile changes. With the unpredictability of the 49ers on offense and defense this season, could it really hurt to give more court time to players like Sean Phaler and David Booker or even walk-on Kyle Church?

Don't the shooting tragedy and ongoing medical problems of players and the coaching staff at Duquesne, coupled with the Dukes' ability to pull wild upsets, have the makings of a nice, inspirational movie?