Saturday, December 31, 2011

49ers-Memphis: What to watch for

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- What to watch for in tonight's New Year's Eve game between the 49ers and Memphis at FedEx Forum:

-- Big news here is that Tigers point guard Joe Jackson, the team's second leading scorer (11.8) who averages 3.1 assists, won't play. There are reports that Jackson isn't happy at Memphis and might transfer.

-- Charlotte's biggest cover problem will be 6-6 Memphis guard Will Barton, who averages 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. That's right, 9.2 rebounds. Might see 49ers small forward DeMario Mayfield on Barton, or 6-3 point guard Pierria Henry.

-- This is a renewal, briefly, of the Charlotte-Memphis rivalry in the 49ers' Conference USA days. The 49ers have a 6-7 record against Memphis. They last played in the 2005 C-USA tournament, with Memphis winning 83-69.

-- There's one common opponent for the 49ers and Tigers this season: Miami. Memphis beat the Hurricanes in Coral Gables 71-54; Miami beat Charlotte at Halton 76-61.

-- This is a big sports weekend in Memphis, much of centered at the FedEx Forum, which is right off the Beale Street entertainment district. The NBA's Grizzlies were in town Friday against Houston, the Liberty Bowl (Vandy vs. Cincy) is this afternoon, and the 49ers and Tigers play tonight. Memphis rings in the New Year with an electric guitar drop on Beale Street.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Observations from Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Observations from Charlotte's 80-67 loss Wednesday to Arkansas:

-- There's a troubling trend developing in center Chris Braswell's game: He's falling in love with his jump shot. Braswell is a skilled inside player -- although not overly physical -- but he's taken to going outside in recent games against teams like Arkansas and Miami who have bruisers inside.

Braswell, who didn't practice this week because he was attending to a family medical emergency, was a non-factor against the Hogs, scoring seven points on three-of-11 shooting (including one of two from 3-point range). He had at least two of his shots blocked when he tried to go inside. He was three-of-15 against Miami.

"We need Chris to be around the rim a little more," said coach Alan Major.

Wonder if Major will be offer that sentiment to Braswell between now and Saturday's game at Memphis.

-- The Razorbacks eventually wore down the 49ers. "What they do is really not that complicated," said Major. Said Arkansas coach Mike Anderson: "I thought they were fatigued. You could see it. We were making Charlotte not want to come into the paint."

-- Like it or not, the 49ers have a reputation as a perimeter-oriented team. "They're a 3-point shooting team," said Anderson. The 49ers only made five of 24 3s against Arkansas, though. Those 24 long-range shots accounted for more than a third of Charlotte's 63 field-goal attempts.

-- E. Victor Nickerson had a tough night, missing all six of his shots and making just five-of-10 free throws. These are the kinds of games freshmen learn from.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Q&A with Melvin Watkins

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Here’s a quick Q&A with Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins, a former 49ers head coach and point guard. He had a 42-20 in two seasons with the 49ers in 1997-98 and helped Charlotte to the 1977 Final Four. He left for Charlotte for Texas A&M, where he was head coach from 1999-2004. This is his first season at Arkansas after six seasons as an assistant coach at Missouri.

Q. Is this the first time one of your teams has played Charlotte?

“Yes, and I hope it’s the last time!”

Q. What kinds of emotions will you have tonight?

“Not as much as you’d think, since it’s not at Charlotte. If it was (at Halton Arena), I could be all over the place. But the fact is, it’s here and I’ve been removed for some years. They’re not kids I recruited, so that makes it different. Still, they’re the 49ers and they’ll always have a special place in my heart.”

Q. Do you have much connection with the 49ers basketball program?

“Purposely, I stay away a bit. You’ve got to allow the coaching staff there to do their job. So I’m not running any kind of interference. When Bobby Lutz was there, I might have, but he was my assistant when I was there. I still get some calls from people, but I don’t want to interfere.”

Q. Do you ever get back to Charlotte?

“I did go back this summer. I took my kids and my grandkids to the arena, and they’ve got my jersey up in there. So that was pretty special.”

Q. How are things at Arkansas?

“What I like is the passion for sports they have here. Basketball has been off some, and that’s why we’re here, to get it going again. This is the only show in town, in the state, really. They don’t have pro sports here. So we want to get this building rocking and rolling again, to get back to that.”

Q. Do you know Alan Major?

“I do not, other than to be in the profession, just to sit down say hello once or twice. I knew him when he was at Ohio State a little, so it’s been from afar. Just looking at what I’ve seen this year, they need to give him time to get it going. I mean, they played at a very high level against Davidson, so it appears the potential is there.”

Q. Do you have your Charlotte football season tickets yet”

“I told Judy (Rose) I should get some free ones. She didn’t agree with me!”

49ers-Arkansas: What to watch for

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A few things to watch for in tonight's 49ers-Arkansas game at Bud Walton Arena. Woooo-eee Pig Sooo-eeey. I'm going to be hearing a lot of that.

-- The Razorbacks (8-3) have won three straight and are 8-1 at home. There only losses this season are at Connecticut (75-62) and Oklahoma (78-63).

-- Arkansas likes to press, so ball security will be important for the 49ers. They've been cutting down on their turnovers recently, and their nine against Miami last week were a season low. Not having Luka Voncina (out for personal reasons) will limit the number of ball handlers at coach Alan Major's disposal. It will be a test for freshman point guard Pierria Henry -- as well as the 49ers' ability to finish when/if they break the press. Maybe this will be a breakout game for Derrio Green, who likes to force the action when pressured.

-- Arkansas is young, with one freshman and two sophomores in the starting lineup. Three other freshmen are in the rotation. That might explain why the Hogs have had trouble finishing games the way coach Mike Anderson would like.

-- The 49ers will be going against Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins, a former Charlotte player and head coach (he was 42-20 with two NCAA appearances in 1996-97. Watkins was a guard on the 49ers' 1977 Final Four team.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gentile, Rodriguez earn national honors

The Charlotte 49ers' soccer team picked up some national honors today from Soccer America magazine.

Forward Giuseppe Gentile was named the magazine's freshman of the year and senior defender Charles Rodriguez made its first  'MVP' team.

Gentile, who played at Charlotte's Ardrey Kell High, led the 49ers with 10 goals this season and was also the Atlantic 10's rookie of the year. Rodriguez, who had already made named first-team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is one of three senior starters the 49ers will lose for next season.

North Carolina's Ben Speas, who scored the winning goal in the Tar Heels' 1-0 national championship victory against Charlotte, was named the magazine's player of the year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Observations from Miami

Observations from the 49ers' 76-61 loss against Miami:

-- Center Chris Braswell is not a physical player. So when he's matched up against a burly guy like the Hurricanes' 6-10, 280-pound Reggie Johnson, he's going to struggle -- especially if his jumper isn't falling. Braswell was 3 of 15 from the field, and took six 3-pointers (making two). Coach Alan Major said Braswell might have "drifted a little bit," going against Johnson and was also worn down from having to guard him. And Johnson (11 points, 7 rebounds) is a load.

-- The 49ers continue to cut down on their turnovers. They had another season-low in that department (eight) against Miami.

-- And although the 49ers shot just 32.2 percent, they had 10 assists on their 19 baskets, a good ratio.

-- Luka Voncina will travel to his home in Slovenia on Friday to tend to family issues. The 49ers coaching staff hopes he's back for the Jan. 4 Atlantic 10 opener against Richmond.

-- Miami could be a decent ACC team. The Hurricanes haven't played with a full squad all season, with Johnson missing the first nine games with a knee injury and forward DeQuan Jones being reinstated for the 49ers game after a being suspended in the NCAA's Nevin Shapiro/booster investigation. Miami was without all-ACC guard Malcon Grant against the 49ers. Grant missed the game to be with his family after his brother died unexpectedly.

49ers-Miami: What to watch for

-- It has been exactly one month since the 49ers last lost, when East Tennessee State beat them at the buzzer Nov. 22. Charlotte is taking better care of the ball during a five-game winning streak, with its nine turnovers Monday against Coppin State a season low.

-- Charlotte guard Luka Voncina won’t play because of personal reasons.

-- The Hurricanes have center Reggie Johnson back. Johnson, who missed the season’s first nine games with a knee injury, scored 15 points in his return last week against Florida Atlantic.

-- Miami guard DeQuan Jones, who had been sitting out in connection to the school’s NCAA investigation into former booster Nevin Shapiro, has been reinstated and could play.

Marshall's Ratliff to be OL coach

The Huntington (W.Va.) Press-Dispatch is reporting this morning that Marshall assistant coach Phil Ratliff will be the 49ers' offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

Charlotte coach Brad Lambert can officially hire Ratliff and the remainder of his staff beginning Jan. 1. He has already has hired offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, defensive coordinator Bruce Tall and defensive coach James Adams.

Ratliff is a former All-American offensive lineman at Marshall who has been the Thundering Herd's tight ends coach. He was also tight ends coach at James Madison, as well as a high school coach in West Virginia.

While at Marshall, one of Ratliff’s primary recruiting areas was Charlotte.

“Our recruiting philosophy is going to be to establish a strong home base,” said Ratliff. “We’re going to want to keep the top kids from Charlotte in Charlotte. Beyond that, we’ll work hard in North and South Carolina and Georgia. I think parents want their kids to stay close to home, so they can drive no further than three or four hours to see them play.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gunn resigns, heads to Stanford

Ten days after his Charlotte 49ers played for a national championship, Jeremy Gunn has resigned to become the men's soccer coach at Stanford.

Gunn was 64-26-14 in five seasons with Charlotte, including this season's run to the College Cup championship game, where the 49ers lost 1-0 to North Carolina.

"I want to thank everybody involved at Charlotte ... for the incredible five years that I’ve been able to enjoy here,” Gunn said in a statement. “The support from the university has been a major factor in the wonderful success we’ve had and the incredible endeavors of the fine student-athletes that I’ve
had the pleasure and privilege to coach here. We’ve had unbelievable community support, and support from our alums, student body and the university community. I couldn’t have fonder memories about a place. Charlotte will always have a very, very special place in my heart.

"I want to thank Chancellor (Phil) Dubois, Judy and (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Kim Whitestone for the wonderful opportunity they gave me. I appreciate all the hard work and dedication that everybody has shown to allow our program to enjoy the excitement and success over the last few years. I will miss all of the people that I have met here, and will be looking forward to cheering Niner Nation on to future successes.”

Stanford was 6-10-2 last season, but the Cardinal is usually one of the country's top programs.

In 2010, Gunn signed a three-year extension on his 49ers contract that originally paid him about $65,000 per year.

"The chancellor and I made a competitive, substantial offer to Jeremy to try and keep him as our coach," said 49ers athletics director Judy Rose. "We are disappointed in Jeremy's decision but understand the appeal of Stanford and wish him well."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Observations from Coppin State

-- Coach Alan Major confirmed that the reason why Luka Voncina missed the game -- and why he'll be out for a while -- is due to a family issue in his home of Slovenia. Voncina didn’t dress for the game but sat on the bench and is also expected to miss Thursday’s game against Miami. He will return home over the holidays (missing games at Arkansas and Memphis) and isn’t expected back until at least the 49ers’ Atlantic 10 opener Jan. 4 against Richmond.

-- Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell credits a pre-game Christmas carol he sang to Akeem Ellis for the 29 points Ellis scored. “I sang to him: ‘All I Want For Christmas Is For You To Play,’ ” Mitchell said.

-- Charlotte’s Jamar Briscoe, who scored 14 points, said the victory eased the pain of the loss his hometown Baltimore Ravens suffered Sunday to the San Diego Chargers.

-- Charlotte's nine turnovers were a season low and the 49ers' five-game winning streak is the longest in Major's two seasons.

Voncina missing Coppin game

49ers guard Luka Voncina will miss tonight's game because personal issues. Here's the school's press release:

Charlotte 49ers sophomore guard Luka Voncina (Ljubljana, Slovenia) will be on the bench but will not dress for Monday’s game vs. Coppin State as he prepares to head home later this week to deal with personal issues. Out of respect to Voncina, specifics of the situation will not be discussed.

“Information at this time, even for Luka, is unclear,” said 49ers head coach Alan Major. “ He will learn more when he returns home. Until then, we respect his situation. It’s important that he knows that we are here for him and that his team stands by him and it’s important for us to allow him every opportunity to deal with this as necessary.”

Voncina is averaging 3.0 points and .8 rebounds for Charlotte and is averaging 15.6 minutes per game.

49ers vs. Coppin: What to watch for

A few things to watch for tonight when the 49ers go for their fifth straight victory in a game at Halton Arena against Coppin State (4-5):

-- Deuce Briscoe's movement off the ball: For the first time in his college career, Briscoe is coming off the bench and isn't necessarily the point guard when he does get in the game. So he's having to adjust to not having the ball in his hands all the time. Coach Alan Major says Briscoe is starting to figure out how to get open, moving and cutting off the ball to get open. Briscoe was able to do that in a recent game, breaking to the basket and taking a pass from Chris Braswell for an easy layup.

-- Javarris Barnett's defensive rebounding: Barnett is averaging a career-high 7.3 rebounds, 6.3 of them defensive (that's third in the Atlantic 10 behind Fordham's Chris Gaston and Braswell). Barnett is keeping himself between the basket and the guy he's defending, and that's making him more than just the 3-point threat that he already is for this team.

-- 3-point defense: The Eagles, who are 0-5 on the road this season, score 42 percent of their points on 3-point baskets. Led by guard Tony Gallo, they shoot 35 percent from 3-point range. Gallo scored 27 in a victory recently against Towson and makes 36.6 percent of his 3s. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Charlotte volleyball signs four

The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team signed four players for the 2012 fall season: Mireya Braxton (Providence High), Britney Leigh Held, Michelle Hovey (Raleigh Lighthouse Christian) and Carly Ochs.

The 49ers will have nine returning players from this year's squad.

"I am very excited about announcing our 2012 signing class," said Charlotte head coach Chris Redding, who just completed his fifth season with the program. "Our staff has worked extremely hard to not only find talented volleyball players, but to find young women with the drive to be successful on the court and in the classroom. This group has diverse talents that we feel will compliment a solid returning core."

-- From press releases

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reflections on the 49ers' College Cup run

HOOVER, Ala. -- Soccer can be a cruel sport.

All it takes for a team that's been dominated for an entire game is one moment of magic. And the game can be won in that moment. That's what happened for the North Carolina Tar Heels, who beat the 49ers 1-0 in the College Cup final on Sunday at Regions Park.

The 49ers outshot the Tar Heels 19-10 and peppered the goal constantly in the final 10 minutes, but couldn't get the equalizer. Included was one 40-second flurry where Charlotte had five shots. The 49ers hit the post twice.

But the Tar Heels hit the shot that counted, a 25-yard blast from Akron transfer Ben Speas. It was the second consecutive season Speas played for a national-championship winning team (soccer players don't have to sit out a season if they transfer).

What's next for the 49ers? They lose three senior starters, most notably All-American defender Charles Rodriguez and Isaac Cowles, the College Cup's most outstanding defender. But eight starters will be back.

Maybe they'll again get the kind of support they received from Charlotte fans Sunday, when six busloads worth of them made the trip to Hoover.

"I couldn't hear any Carolina fans," said Cowles. "They were showing some Charlotte love."

Tar Heels down 49ers for title

HOOVER, Ala. -- Ben Speas scored on a 25-yard shot with 26 minutes remaining, giving North Carolina a 1-0 victory against Charlotte and the NCAA men's soccer championship at Regions Park.

Speas' shot gave the top-seeded Tar Heels (21-2-3) their second championship. The unseeded 49ers end at 16-5-4.

Charlotte had much of the game's play and outshot the Tar Heels 19-10. Many of those shots came in the last 10 minutes as the 49ers desperately tried for the equalizer. Charlotte hit the cross bar once and defender Thomas Allen also had a header cleared off the line by North Carolina's Jordan Gafa.

There was one moment of controversy in the game, when Charlotte's Donnie Smith was knocked down in the penalty box  by North Carolina's Kirk Urso in the 47th minute. Referee Michael Kennedy didn't call a foul, however, on what would have been a penalty kick. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A proud moment for college soccer in N.C.

HOOVER, Ala. -- There will be all sorts of storylines swirling through the chilly Alabama air over the next 36 hours or so as the Charlotte 49ers prepare to face North Carolina for the NCAA men's soccer championship on Sunday.

But here's the bottom line:

This is a great moment -- probably the greatest moment ever -- for men's college soccer in the state of North Carolina, for those of us who have watched it, played it, been a part of it in any way.

The sport has been dominated around here by the Tar Heels women's program for decades. But now, having two schools from the state -- and the same university system -- playing for the men's championship brings about a new kind of attention to the sport.

Men's soccer has always been strong in the ACC -- North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest have each won national titles.

But schools like UNC Greensboro and Greensboro College have also won national championships in the past. Who knew that decades ago, Appalachian State had one of the country's top programs and that former Mountaineer great Thompson Usiyan remains the sport's all-time leading scorer?

The arrival of the 49ers to college soccer's biggest stage shows once and for all that there are still teams beyond the ACC that can have a national impact.

The 49ers might be unseeded, but they've been ranked in most national polls for most of the season. They played a nonconference schedule that was as tough as any in the nation.

They've earned their way here, every step of the way.

The Tar Heels won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. They're the top seeds. They're in the College Cup for a fourth straight  time.

They expected to be here.

And now two sister universities, separated by about 130 miles but not by a state border, play for it all.

Fans of college soccer in North Carolina will relish this, and they should be proud.

Friday, December 9, 2011

49ers to play for national title

HOOVER, Ala. -- Isaac Cowles hit the deciding penalty kick after goalkeeper Gavin Dawson made a key save, as the 49ers advanced past Creigton on penalty kicks and into Sunday's national men's soccer championship at Regions Park.

The 49ers (16-4-4) will play the winner of the North Carolina-UCLA on Sunday at 4 p.m. for the championship.

Charlotte and second-seed Creighton (21-2-1) played to a scoreless draw after 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.

The 49ers, who made it to the College Cup by getting past Connecticut in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, made all four of their penalties against the Bluejays. Creighton made just one, and when Dawson saved one by Kris Clark and Ethan Finlay sent one high, it was left for Cowles, Charlotte's senior co-captain to make his to clinch it. 

49ers-Bluejays: Keys to the game

HOOVER, Ala. -- Here are a few things to watch for in tonight's 49ers-Creighton men's soccer College Cup semifinal:

-- The Bluejays have the nation's top defense (their .21 goals-against average is best in NCAA history; they've allowed five all season; goalkeeper Brian Holt's 43 career shutouts are an NCAA record), but they've also got one of the country's top offensive players. Ethan Finlay has 14 goals and scored the game winner in the Bluejays' quarterfinal victory against South Florida in overtime.

-- There are no stats for balls won in the air (headers), but Charlotte is about as good as it gets doing that, especially defensively in the penalty box. The 49ers won just about everything in the air in the quarterfinal victory against a bigger Connecticut team. They'll need to be as strong again tonight.

-- The best Charlotte player at breaking down a defense individually: forward Evan James. He'll go one-on-one, usually down the right side, against Bluejays defenders.

-- Winning the ball at midfield and converting quickly into a counter-attack is a 49ers staple. Midfielders Tyler Gibson, Donnie Smith, Aidan Kirkbride and Owen Darby will need be solid in that department tonight.

-- If the game should go to a penalty-kick shootout, watch for the 49ers to again bring in backup goalkeeper Gavin Dawson, as they did against UConn. He's bigger than starter Klay Davis (6-3 to 6-0) and fills that goal up better.

Biggest weekend in 49ers history?

Don't know if there's ever been a bigger weekend in Charlotte 49ers sports history. Charlotte faces Creighton in the men's soccer College Cup tonight at 6, with a berth in Sunday's championship game -- potentially against North Carolina -- on the line. Then there is the not-so-small matter of the 49ers' men's basketball team going against Mecklenburg County rival Davidson at Halton Arena on Saturday.

There's always the 1977 men's basketball Final Four. And there also was something pretty similar 15 years ago, the last time the 49ers advanced to the College Cup.

In 1996, Charlotte played (and lost to) Florida International in the College Cup semis on Friday, Dec. 13. The next night, the 49ers also played Davidson in basketball, beating the Wildcats 70-68 in Belk Arena. That was the year Halton Arena opened.

If you remember the '77 and '96 weekends, post it in the comments section here and remind us how it was and how it might be different from today. Or if there's another moment that was as eagerly anticipated, let us know about that, too.

Of course, everything goes off the charts if there is a 49ers-Tar Heels soccer final.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Potential 49ers-Heels matchup wouldn't be first in Birmingham

HOOVER, Ala. -- Whether Charlotte and North Carolina face each other Sunday for the national men's soccer championship remains to be seen. The 49ers play Creighton and the Tar Heels face UCLA in the semifinals Friday

But there already is some 49ers-Tar Heels history at Regions Field, which serves primarily as a minor-league baseball stadium. The Birmingham Barons’ Michael Jordan got his first hit as a pro baseball player on April 10, 1994, against Knoxville’s Joe Ganote – a former 49ers pitcher.

Ganote lasted longer in pro baseball than Jordan did. He bounced around the minors for seven seasons from 1990-96.

-- Charlotte soccer player Evan James is an accomplished singer and would have majored in the music field had time constraints not conflicted with soccer. He said athletics director Judy Rose once asked him to sing the national anthem before a men’s basketball game at Halton Arena. James, however, declined. He’s from Canada.

-- The 49ers’ are relatively healthy this season. The only injury of real consequence came when midfielder Will Mayhew (Concord Robinson High) went out for the season with a torn ACL in September.

-- Charlotte’s Gentile was named a first-team freshman All-American by College Soccer News on Thursday … 49ers senior defender Charles Rodriguez and James have been invited to Major League Soccer’s player combine Jan. 6-10 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other College Cup players invited to the combine: North Carolina forward Billy Schuler, defender Matt Hedges and midfielder Kirk Urso; Creighton defender Andrew Duran, midfielder Greg Jordan and forward Ethan Finlay; UCLA forward/midfielder Eder Arreola, midfielder/defender Andy Rose, goalkeeper Brian Rowe and defender Shawn Singh.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's soccer in a baseball stadium

A few College Cup notes. The 49ers play second-seed Creighton on Friday in a national semifinal in Hoover, Ala.:

SOCCER IN BASEBALL STADIUM: Despite the recent construction of soccer-specific stadiums in several cities around the country (Kansas City, Kan.; Frisco, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Harrison, N.J.; Carson, Calif., among others), the NCAA awarded this year’s College Cup to Hoover, where the games will be played in the Birmingham Barons’ minor-league baseball stadium.

MEASURING UP: Charlotte’s all-time records against the other College Cup teams: North Carolina, 3-14; Creighton, 1-2; UCLA, 0-2. The Bruins came to Charlotte in 1979 and beat the 49ers 4-2 in a game played in Memorial Stadium.

FAMILIAR FACES: The 49ers and Tar Heels played a preseason exhibition at Transamerica Field on Aug. 21. More than 4,000 watched North Carolina rally to a 2-1 lead before the game was called with 20 minutes remaining because of a rainstorm.

CREIGHTON'S DEFENSE: The Bluejays (21-2) allow just .22 goals per game and have conceded five all season. Like Charlotte, they've got experienced seniors in their defense. Creighton advanced to the College Cup with a 1-0 overtime victory against South Florida on Sunday. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but postponed when 6 inches of snow fell in Omaha, Neb.

-- BOLOWICH'S IMPACT: The Bluejays are coached by Elmar Bolowich, who left North Carolina for Creighton earlier this year. Bolowich is the Tar Heels' all-time winningest coach and in his 22 seasons in Chapel Hill took North Carolina to 15 NCAA tournament, five College Cups and one national title. North Carolina made the College Cup from 2008 through '10, so this is Bolowich's four straight trip.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

49ers advance to College Cup

STORRS, Conn. -- The Charlotte 49ers advanced to the College Cup for a second time in school history, getting past Connecticut on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

Charlotte will play in this week's national finals in Hoover, Ala.

Charlotte trailed 1-0 late in the game until freshman Giuseppe Gentile's equalizing goal with three minutes left.

After a scoreless overtime, Charlotte made four of its five penalty kicks, with senior Charles Rodriguez making the clinching one.

The Charlotte (16-4-3) will play the winner of today's Creighton-South Florida in the semifinals Friday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

49ers set for ECU

-- The 49ers (3-2) and East Carolina (4-2), who play today at 5 p.m. at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C., have seen a lot of each other lately, splitting two games last season (Charlotte winning in a tournament in Charleston; East Carolina winning in Greenville, N.C.). They will play in Halton Arena next season.

 -- Charlotte hasn’t played since last Saturday, when it beat Wright State 70-66. But the 49ers will be busy over the next week, traveling to Radford on Tuesday, then hosting Mecklenburg Country rival Davidson Dec. 10. Then the 49ers have another nine days off before playing Coppin State Dec. 19 in Halton Arena.

--  Charlotte center Chris Braswell is the Atlantic 10’s second-leading scorer (18.3 points). East Carolina’s Shamarr Bowden, a transfer from Charlotte, scored 14 in a loss to Old Dominion on Tuesday.

-- East Carolina played in Charlotte's Bobcats Arena a few weeks ago, beating Appalachian State by 20 points. The 49ers want to play more games uptown against big-name opponents (they beat Tennessee there last season). The ACC's Florida State is a possibility in the near future.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Charlotte soccer features stifling defense

In case you missed it, here's the story from today's Observer on Charlotte's stifling defense, which has been a key to the 49ers' run to the soccer elite eight, where they visit Connecticut on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

49ers release baseball schedule

The 49ers baseball team, last season's Atlantic 10 champion, released its 2012 baseball schedule today. The 49ers have 27 home games and open the season at Hayes Stadium with a four-game set Feb. 17-19 against St. Peter's. Twelve of Charlotte's first 15 games will be at home.

Nonconference foes include Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Dallas Baptist and Missouri.

J.C. Smith added to football schedule


The 49ers have wrapped up their 2014 football schedule with a home game against Mecklenburg County rival Johnson C. Smith.

The 49ers and Golden Bulls will also play Sept. 6, 2014 at Charlotte; they will also play on Sept. 19, 2015, also at Charlotte.

The 49ers had to reschedule two games in 2014 to make room for Smith: Charlotte will open the season at Campbell on Aug. 28 (a Thursday night) and will host Old Dominion on Sept. 20.

So here's a look at the completed 2013 and '14 schedules.


Aug. 31: Campbell (FCS, Pioneer)
Sept. 7: Chowan (DII, CIAA)
Sept. 14: N.C. Central (FCS, MEAC)
Sept. 21: at Old Dominion (FCS, CAA)
Sept. 28: at Presbyterian (FCS, Big South)
Oct. 5: Gardner-Webb (FCS, Big South)
Oct. 12: UNC Pembroke (DII, independent)
Oct. 26: at Charleston Southern (FCS, Big South)
Nov. 2: at Coastal Carolina (FCS, Big South)
Nov. 9: North Greenville (DII, independent)
Nov. 23: at Morehead State (FCS, Pioneer)


Aug. 28: at Campbell (FCS, Pioneer)
Sept. 6: Johnson C. Smith (DII, CIAA)

Sept. 13: at N.C. Central (FCS, MEAC)
Sept. 20: Old Dominion (FCS, CAA)

Sept. 27: Charleston Southern (FCS, Big South)
Oct. 4: at Gardner-Webb (FCS, Big South)
Oct. 11: at The Citadel (FCS, Southern)
Oct. 25: Georgia Southern (FCS, Southern)
Nov. 1: at Western Carolina (FCS, Southern)
Nov. 8: Coastal Carolina (FCS, Big South)
Nov. 15: at Furman (FCS, Southern)
Nov. 22: Morehead State (FCS, Pioneer)

And here's what we know about schedules beyond that:
2015: Johnson C. Smith (TBA), Western Carolina (TBA), Presbyterian (Sept. 12), at Georgia Southern (Sept. 26).
2016: at Richmond (Sept. 10).
2017: Richmond (Sept. 9)

Then there are the games against FBS opponents. Charlotte will play at Virginia Tech in 2019 and the 49ers have been negotiating with Tennessee, as well.

-- The 2014 schedule is a challenging one for any FCS program, let alone one that will be in its second-season of existence. Johnson C. Smith will be the only DII team on the schedule (three are on the '13 schedule) and the 49ers will face four Southern Conference teams, including perennial national powers Georgia Southern and Furman, as well as the CAA's Old Dominion, which is in the FCS playoffs this season.

-- And if you think that building a program needs to take several years, think again. Old Dominion, in just its third year of existence, will face Georgia Southern on Saturday in a second-round FCS playoff game. The Monarchs (10-2) finished tied for second in the Colonial Athletic Association. ODU is 27-7 in its three seasons, playing schedules similar in scope to Charlotte's (although the 49ers' second-season schedule appears to be tougher than what the Monarchs faced in 2010).

Coastal Carolina, whom the 49ers play in '13 and '14, started football in 2003 and has already made two playoff appearances ('06 and '10).

-- And there will be nothing easy about the '13 game against North Greenville. The Crusaders are in the Division II quarterfinals this week, playing Delta (Miss.) State.

Monday, November 28, 2011

49ers-UConn set for Sunday

The 49ers' NCAA men's soccer tournament quarterfinal game at Connecticut will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Charlotte is coming off a 1-0 victory Sunday against Akron in a third-round game; the third-seed Huskies beat James Madison 3-0.

UConn (19-3-2) beat Monmouth 2-1 in a second-round game after receiving a first-round bye. The 49ers (16-4-2) beat Furman and Alabama-Birmingham by identical 3-1 scores before eliminating the defending-champ Zips on Sunday at Transamerica Field.

The unseeded 49ers are one victory away from playing in their second College Cup in program history. Charlotte made it that far in 1996, losing a semifinal game against Florida International. This year's College Cup is Dec. 9 and 11 in Hoover, Ala.

Other Elite Eight games have top-seed North Carolina facing unseeded St. Mary's; No, 12 Louisville playing No. 13 UCLA; and No. 2 Creighton going against No. 7 South Florida.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

49ers advance to Elite 8

The 49ers, getting a goal midway through the first half from freshman Giuseppe Gentile, beat Akron 1-0 in a third-round NCAA men's soccer tournament game Sunday at Transamerica Field.

The victory sends unseeded Charlotte (16-4-2) into a quarterfinal game next weekend at No. 3-seed Connecticut, which beat James Madison 3-0 on Sunday. The game will be played either Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Announcement on that should come by Monday morning.

The loss ended the season for the unseeded Zips (15-4-4), who won last season's national championship and were a national finalist in 2009.

Gentile, a product of Charlotte's Ardrey Kell High who was the Atlantic 10's rookie of the year, scored in the game's 25th minute from an assist by Jennings Rex. It was his team-high ninth goal of the season.

Charlotte held Akron striker Darren Mattocks, who had 21 goals, goalless. But Mattocks nearly equalized in the 62nd minute when his point-blank header was turned away by goalkeeper Klay Davis.

The 49ers, who probably were playing their final home game of the season, are 9-0 at Transamerica Field this season and allowed just two goals.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Observations from East Tennessee

Observations from Charlotte's 70-69 loss against East Tennessee State on Tuesday:

-- Coach Alan Major has the flexibility to play the guys who are playing well, especially in the backcourt. That's why Derrio Green, who didn't score, played just 13 minutes. Deuce Briscoe consigned to the bench this season, played a season-high 25 minutes and made some big shots. Luka Voncina was in there for a steady 22 minutes.

-- The one constant in the backcourt has been freshman Pierria Henry, who played 22 minutes. He had a freshman-like line, scoring 13 points on four-of-eight shooting (three-of-five from 3-point range). He had five steals -- but also four turnovers. He always seems to be around the ball, for better or for worse sometimes.

-- Freshman Terrence Williams (West Mecklenburg High) played seven minutes and scored four points and grabbed a rebound. He was a factor when he was in there.

-- That game-winning 3-pointer by ETSU's Jarvis Jones was his only basket of the game. He's no stranger to game winners: He did the same thing two years ago against Lipscomb.

-- The 49ers don't return to Halton until Dec. 10, when Davidson visits. There are three road games between now and then -- Wright State on Saturday, East Carolina Dec. 3 and Radford Dec. 6.

Monday, November 21, 2011

49ers to host Akron

The 49ers will host the defending NCAA champion Akron Zips on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field in a third-round NCAA men's soccer tournament game.
Both teams are unseeded: the 49ers beat 11th-seed UAB 3-1 and the Zips edged SMU 3-2 in second-round games yesterday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

49ers start fast, beat UAB 3-1

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Charlotte 49ers, scoring goals in the opening seconds of both halves, beat Alabama-Birmingham 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament Sunday night.

The 49ers will face defending champion Akron on Nov. 27 in a round of 16 game. The site hasn't yet been determined. The Zips beat SMU 3-2 Sunday.

Charlotte (15-4-2) scored 43 seconds into the game when Giuseppe Gentille broke down the left side and hit Evan James in front of the goal. James knocked it past Blazers goalie Carl Woszczynski and into the net.

The scored remained 1-0, until the 49ers scored nearly as quickly to open the second half. Jennings Rex broke behind the UAB defense and it was 2-0 at the 46:16 mark.

Charlotte made it 3-0 three minutes later when T.J. Beaulieu intercepted a sloppy Blazers pass and beat Woszcynski at the 49:24 mark.

UAB (13-5-3) made it 3-1 just a minute later when Chase Wickham scored.

The Blazers spent the rest of the game pressuring Charlotte's goal, but couldn't get it past Davis.

"It was 'shields-up' for us the rest of the way," said 49ers coach Jeremy Gunn.

Charlotte nearly made it 4-1 with about 12 minutes left when Bieulieu hit the post on a breakaway. Tyler Gibson missed on the rebound, hitting the ball high.

Said Blazers coach Mike Getman: "We obviously weren't ready to play the first minutes of each half. If it weren't for that, we'd still be out there playing."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lamar observations (from afar)

I wasn't at the 49ers' 72-54 at Lamar on Saturday, but here are a few observations from afar:

-- If there were any doubts how important Chris Braswell is to this team, they should be erased. Braswell, the 49ers' leading scorer and rebounder, missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Without him, the 49ers' thin front court was exposed. Lamar outrebounded Charlotte by a staggering 52-28. Osas Ebomwonyi, a 6-11 center, blocked six 49ers shots. The 49ers, incidentally, had no blocked shots.

Braswell isn't a physical force underneath, but he knows his way around the basket. Not saying the 49ers would have won with him in there -- there were obvious problems elsewhere -- but no way does Charlotte get pushed around like it did with Braswell in there.

-- The closest thing Charlotte has to a pure shooter is Javarris Barnett. So if he's off (he was one-for-six) and if Braswell isn't there, points are going to be hard to come by. The 49ers were 32.8 percent from the floor (they actually shot better from 3-point range at 36.4 percent).

-- Derrio Green is a good example of that. Green was five-of-nine from 3-point range, but missed all seven of his other shots. Green, incidentally, passed Byron Dinkins for 11th on Charlotte's all-time 3-point list on Saturday.

-- Coach Alan Major said on his post-game radio interview that Barnett (hip) and K.J. Sherrill (knee) are being bothered by minor injuries. Sherrill still has some soreness in his knee, which he injured in the preseason a year ago.

-- Deuce Briscoe has fallen to a distant third on the point-guard depth chart. He played five minutes Saturday, behind freshman starter Pierria Henry (27 minutes) and Luka Voncina (21).

-- Next up is a home game Tuesday against East Tennessee State and then three straight on the road (Wright State, East Carolina and Radford).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ill Braswell misses Lamar trip

49ers center Chris Braswell didn't travel with the team Friday because of flu-like symptoms, according to spokesman Tom Whitestone. It's unlikely Braswell could get to Beaumont, Texas, by Saturday's noon tipoff, even if he feels better. Braswell is averaging 20.5 points 11 rebounds through Charlotte's first two games.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

49ers women knock off Hokies

-- The 49ers women's team upped its record to 3-0 Wednesday with a 71-65 victory against the ACC's Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Guard Epiphany Woodson and forward Jai Forney both scored 21 for the 49ers. It was a career high for Woodson.

"It was not a great first 30 minutes by our team," said coach Cara Consuegra. "But ... we started sharing the ball. Epiphany played great down the stretch."

Consuegra also said that Forney's biggest contribution was the defense she played on Virginia Tech's Monet Tellier.

The 49ers play again Saturday against Elon at Halton Arena.

-- Charlotte's baseball team signed six players this week: Infielder Matt Creech (Colquitt, Ga., County); catcher Nick Daddio (Hough); left-hand pitcher Sean Geoghegan (Southwest Guilford); left-hand pitcher Jason Harris (Barton, Kan., Community College); right-hand pitcher Adam Huffman (Western Alamance); infielder Kory Shumate (Greensboro Grimsley).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Observations from Central Michigan

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- So the 49ers are off to a 2-0 start and play at Lamar (which is in Beaumont, Texas) on Saturday. Some observations on Tuesday's 77-75 double-overtime victory against Central Michigan:

-- The offense went in fits and starts, in large part because coach Alan Major is experimenting (and will continue to do so) with various backcourt combinations. He used just about every combo imaginable in the first half -- starting Pierria Henry with Derrio Green, then bringing in Luka Voncina and Deuce Briscoe to play with each other and with Henry and Green also. There some small lineups -- Henry, Voncina, Mayfield, Williams and Sherrill. And some big ones: Sherrill, Barnett, Braswell, Henry, Voncina. Major likes having options, but having so many means finding the right combinations might take time.

-- Not sure that Briscoe is comfortable with his role coming off the bench. Although he was aggressive with the ball, he was one-of-five shooting and had four turnovers and no assists in eight minutes of play in the first half. He didn't even play in the second half.

-- Major's first substitution brought in five players four minutes into the game. The starters came out for E.Victor Nickerson, Terrence Williams, Briscoe, Voncina and K.J. Sherrill. Just like that, a 12-0 lead vanished for the 49ers.

-- Sure Charlotte was five-of-29 from 3-point range (Major said Central Michigan's defense forced drive-and-dish plays). But one of those five was spectacular. Nickerson jumped for a long rebound in the corner and, as the shot clock wound down, turned and shot it before coming down. Swish. EVR bragged about it on Twitter after the game -- as well he should have.

-- Major, incidentally, did concede that the 29 3-pointers were probably too many after he saw the stat sheet.

-- Three players with double-doubles (Braswell, Barnett, Mayfield) is impressive, even if the come with the help of 10 extra minutes.

-- Green's free throw in the second overtime was the difference. He keeps making those kinds of plays despite having really tough shooting nights (he missed all eight of his 3s).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wrapping up 49ers recruiting

49ers men's basketball coach Alan Major has wrapped up his third recruiting class, signing guard Shawn Lester and forward Willie Clayton last week and getting a verbal commitment from forward Darion Clark over the weekend.

If this season's freshman class is dominated by guards and/or wings -- Pierria Henry, Terrence Williams and E. Victor Nickerson -- designed to make the 49ers bigger on the perimeter, next year's new guys will be there to toughen up the interior.

It will be the final year for Chris Braswell and K.J. Sherrill and current freshman Mike Thorne will presumably be a year closer to contributing, so Clayton and Clark won't need to immediately be counted on.

But the 6-7 Clayton and 6-6 Clark are both known to be bruising inside forces -- at the high school level, yes -- but that's something that Braswell and Sherrill aren't known for. According to ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep, Clark had 20 rebounds in 28 minutes in a recent game.

Henry, a 6-3 point guard, already showed signs of toughness and a nose for the ball in the 49ers' season opener last week against N.C. Central. Transfer DeMario Mayfield also played with tremendous intensity.

You can never tell about recruiting until the players get to college, but it appears Major has established an early trend in what he wants.


49ers host Furman in NCAA soccer

The 49ers will host Furman in a first-round NCAA men's soccer tournament game at 7 p.m. Thursday at TransAmerica Field.

Charlotte (13-4-2) hasn't played since a first-round loss last week in the Atlantic 10 tournament to Xavier. The Paladins (14-3-4), who like the 49ers have been ranked nationally for much of the season, were upset in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament to eventual champion Elon.

Thursday's winner will travel to face 11th-seed Alabama-Birmingham on Sunday. Atlantic 10 champ Xavier is at West Virginia in a first-round game.

Other first-round NCAA tournament games involving Carolinas teams: Elon at Coastal Carolina; Wake Forest at South Carolina and Georgia State at Duke. The Elon-Coastal Carolina winner will play at No. 1-seed North Carolina on Sunday.

"This time of the year, we're excited to still be playing in the national tournament and I feel we thoroughly deserve the opportunity," said 49ers coach Jeremy Gunn. "We've played the toughest schedule we've had since I've been here and have the best record since I've been here. To earn the right to host a first-round NCAA game has us over the moon."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Observations from N.C. Central

-- Last season, coach Alan Major would look to his bench and often see one or two scholarship players available and a couple of walk-ons. In Friday's 73-57 season-opening victory against N.C. Central, Major used nine players, seven of whom played at least 17 minutes. After the game, Major was apologetic about not getting more guys more playing time.

-- Here's what three of the new players are going to bring this season: Freshman point guard Pierria Henry -- toughness on the perimeter and a nose for the ball; small forward DeMario Mayfield -- energy and a surprisingly good shooting touch; freshman forward E. Victor Nickerson -- the ability to knife through the basket to the rim.

-- Central coach LeVelle Moton saw all those 3-pointers the 49ers made in an exhibition last week against Belmont Abbey and figured they'd try to duplicate that. "We wanted to guard the 3-point line and make them make tough 2's," said Moton. "That was the game plan."

-- If Charlotte's next foe Central Michigan is familiar to some long-time 49ers fans, it's because Charlotte beat the Chippewas in the first round of the 1977 NCAA tournament on the way to the Final Four. That was the 49ers' first-ever NCAA tournament victory. Central Michigan will no doubt be looking for some payback Tuesday in Mount Pleasant (if anyone remembers).

-- Charlotte plays five of its next six games on the road. A game Nov. 22 at Halton against East Tennessee State is the only home game in that stretch.

-- N.C. Central's Dominique Sutton (a transfer from Kansas State) put on the one of the worst displays of free-throw shooting imaginable. He missed his first 10, then finally hit one to go one-of-11.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Consuegra signs first recruiting class

First-year women's basketball coach Cara Consuegra has signed four players in her first recruiting class: Center Alexis Alexander of Atlanta; guard Victoria Carter of Atlanta; guard Kira Gordon of Kennesaw Mountain, Ga.; and guard Shequana Harris of the Bronx, N.Y.

Alexander is a 6-1 center who averaged 14.7 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as a junior. Carter (5-8) averaged 7.8 points and three assists. Gordon is a 6-foot-0 guard averaged 14.9 points and 12.1 rebounds. Harris (5-6) averaged 13 points, four assists and three steals and was a second-team all-city selection. 

Willie Clayton signs with 49ers

Power forward Willie Clayton signed his letter-of-intent with the 49ers this morning.

Clayton, who is 6-7, joins Mooresville shooting guard Shawn Lester in Charlotte's 2012 recruiting class.

"I can't wait to come in and be a 49er," Clayton said a few minutes after he signed. "Charlotte really made me feel comfortable. All my future teammates, the coaches, were all great. I want to help get them back on track and win some Atlantic 10 championships."

Clayton will give the 49ers an added presence inside.

"I like to play with my back to the basket, and mix it up," he said.

The 49ers might not be done in the early-signing period. They're also in the hunt for another power forward, 6-7 Darion Clark of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lester signs with 49ers

The 49ers announced on Wednesday they had signed Mooresville High's Shawn Lester.

Lester, a 6-3 shooting guard, averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 steals for the Blue Devils last season.

"It's great to have another local kid from the Charlotte region," said coach Alan Major.

Another 49ers commitment, power forward Willie Clayton of Thomasville, Ga., will sign Thursday morning, according to his coach Ben Tillman. The 49ers also are reportedly in the running for forward Darion Clark of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

49ers get a quarterback

Do the Charlotte 49ers have their quarterback of the future?

Karsten Miller, a quarterback from North Davidson High in Lexington, said Wednesday he has verbally committed to the 49ers' football program, which begins play in 2013.

Miller, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior, missed most of this season with a broken leg. But he was the Central Piedmont 4A's player of the year in 2010 when he accounted for 27 touchdowns for the Knights.

"Charlotte's the only place I wanted to go," said Miller. "A lot of people told me I should sit on (the decision), but this was my first choice all along."

Miller, who said he also received interest from schools including Wake Forest, Louisville and Gardner-Webb, said the 49ers didn't come close to backing off their scholarship offer after his injury. The 49ers made their offer to Miller in May.

"They kept calling me, saying I was still their guy through the whole (rehab) process," said Miller. "I remember them calling me one time when I had a bunch of medicine in me. I was saying all kinds of crazy stuff to them."

49ers radio network broadens

The Charlotte 49ers radio network has expanded for the 2011-12 men's basketball season. In addition to flagship to Charlotte's WZGV-AM (730), all Charlotte games will be carried on WRJD-AM (1410) in Durham. Selected games will be carried on WZGM-AM (1350) in Black Mountain and WLON-AM (1050) in Lincolnton.

Long-time 49ers play-by-play ace Matt Swierad will be joined by WZGV's Lanny Ford for color commentary on many home games.

WZVG will also air "The Alan Major Show" from 7-8 p.m. on Mondays, hosted by Swierad and Ford at Wild Wing Cafe in the University area.

Briscoe an off-the-bench scoring threat?

Noting the 49ers:

-- Men's basketball coach Alan Major doesn't want to divulge his starting lineup for Friday's season opener against N.C. Central, but don't expect it to be different from last week's group that started against Belmont Abbey in a preseason exhibition.

That means that freshman Pierria Henry will again start at point guard ahead of junior Jamar Briscoe, last season's starter.

Major said there are so many potential combinations in the backcourt that it might mean Briscoe ends up playing more minutes that Henry (Henry played 18 minutes against the Crusaders, Briscoe 17).

"It's like football players like Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush," said Major. "They can do so many things that it's hard to keep them off the field. I think that's what (Briscoe) can create for himself. He's got these great instincts, and an ability I love that he can come off the bench with some real scoring punch."

Briscoe was the nation's second-leading freshman scorer three years ago at N.C. Central.

The 49ers, incidentally, are practicing in the mornings this season (from 7:45 a.m. to around 10) to accommodate players' class schedules.

-- 49ers forward Jennifer Hailey has missed recent practice time due to a concussion, but women's basketball coach Cara Consuegra is hopeful she'll be able to play in the 49ers' season opener Friday against Presbyterian. Hailey has been cleared to practice.

-- Charlotte's men's soccer team is in the enviable position of not needing to win this week's Atlantic 10 tournament in St. Louis to gain a berth in the NCAA tournament. The third-seed 49ers (13-3-2), who play defending champ Xavier on Thursday, have an RPI of 9, which should already guarantee them a spot, no matter what happens in St. Louis. The 49ers are also ranked 12th in this week's Soccer America poll.

Gentile named A-10 rookie of year

49ers freshman forward Giuseppe Gentile has been named the Atlantic 10 men's soccer rookie of the year, while three of his teammates made the A-10's first-team all-conference team.

Gentile, who played at Ardrey Kell High, has seven goals and an assist for the 12th-ranked 49ers (13-3-2), who open play Thursday in the conference tournament against Xavier in St. Louis.

Senior forward Evan James, sophomore midfielder Tyler Gibson and senior defender Charles Rodriguez made the all-A-10 first team. Gentile and junior midfielder Donnie Smith were second-team selections.

Gibson and sophomore midfielder Aidan Kirkbride were named to the league's all-academic team.

Offensive player of the year is Duquesne's Joshua Patterson; defender of the year is Fordham's Ryan Meara; midfielder of the year is George Washington's Yoni Berhanu and coach of the year is George Washington's George Lidster.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

49ers to face X in A-10 soccer quarters

The third-seed Charlotte 49ers will face No. 6 Xavier (10-4-3) in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Thursday in St. Louis. Charlotte (13-3-2, 6-1-2) had 20 points and finished behind co-regular-season champs Fordham (11-6, 7-2) and George Washington (9-6-2, 7-2), which both had 21 points.

Thursday’s other quarterfinal has No. 4 Temple (9-9, 5-4) facing No. 5 La Salle (6-8-4, 4-2-3). The semifinals are Friday and the championship is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Charlotte beat Xavier 1-0 earlier this season.

Friday, November 4, 2011

49ers women play exhibition against JCSU

The 49ers women's basketball team plays a preseason exhibition Saturday at 7 p.m. against Johnson C. Smith at Halton Arena.

The 49ers, who advanced to last season's Women's NIT semifinals, will be playing under first-year coach Cara Consuegra, who comes to Charlotte from Marquette, where she was an assistant.

Charlotte won a school-record 27 games last season and returns three starters. Guard Epiphany Woodson was chosen to the preseason all-Atlantic 10 first-team and forward Jen Hailey made the second team.

The 49ers open the regular season next Friday at Halton against Presbyterian as part of a doubleheader with the men's game against N.C. Central.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vols next for 49ers football?

49ers football coach Brad Lambert gave a speech Thursday, during which he said Charlotte would be playing FBS teams in the future like Virginia Tech (which we knew) and Tennessee (which we didn't know).

No contracts have been signed yet by the two schools. But if Lambert said it (or let it slip), he probably knows something, right? Look for something to be announced soon, probably for the 2018 season. Charlotte is already scheduled to play at Virginia Tech in 2019.

The 49ers' 2014 schedule is about to be finalized with a 12th game. Expect it to be against a Division II school not too far from Charlotte's campus.

Observations from Belmont Abbey victory

Observations on the 49ers' 104-52 exhibition victory Thursday against Belmont Abbey:

-- The reason freshman Pierria Henry started ahead of Deuce Briscoe at point guard is because Henry is 6-3 and Briscoe is 5-10. Coach Alan Major wants more height on the defensive perimeter. Whether that's permanent, we'll see.

-- Coach Alan Major put all the new players to work. Eleven players played double-figure minutes (yes, it was a blowout against an overmatched DII team).

-- Worried about all those 3s the 49ers were taking (they made 17 of 29 and didn't make a two-point basket until seven minutes remained in the first half)? Don't be, because, A) Belmont Abbey was guarding anybody out there and, B) they were going in. Javarris Barnett was six-of-seven for 24 points and Derrio Green was four-of-seven for 12.

-- Transfer DeMario Mayfield and Henry look like they'll be the kind of athletic players that haven't been seen around Halton for a few years. E. Victor Nickerson also has a smooth, polished game that will improve when he puts on a few pounds. Two other freshmen, Mike Thorne and Terrence Williams, also had their moments. Thorne blocked two shots and Williams was 2-of-3 from the field.

-- The noseguards worn by Henry and Luka Voncina were to protect broken noses they suffered in practice recently. Mayfield also took stitches in his chin during one practice.

-- Season opener is next Friday against N.C. Central. Briscoe played at Central as a freshman in 2008-09 before transferring to Charlotte. He was the nation's second-leading freshman scorer behind Liberty's Seth Curry, who's now at Duke.

49ers-Belmont Abbey: What to watch for

 A few things to watch for in tonight's Charlotte-Belmont Abbey men's basketball exhibition at Halton Arena (7 p.m.):

-- The new guys -- there are a lot of them. Charlotte's three freshmen guards --  Pierria Henry, E. Victor Nickerson and Terrence Williams -- are going to be counted on for early contributions this season. Henry, especially, might have the best chance for major minutes. He's a physical player and loves to play defense ("A beast," according to senior guard Derrio Green.

-- Another freshman, big man Mike Thorne, is a "big hunk of clay," according to coach Alan Major. The 6-9 Thorne spends a lot of time before practice with assistant coach Ryan Odom working on his skills.

-- Biggest impact by a new player, I'd think, will be wing DeMario Mayfield, a transfer from Georgia. Although he didn't play last season (per NCAA regulations), he has a year of practicing Major's system under his belt. Although right now the starting lineup would appear to be Chris Braswell (center), K.J. Sherrill (power forward), Javarris Barnett (small forward), Green (shooting guard) and Deuce Briscoe (point guard), Mayfield could crack that.

-- Major says he's got "3 1/2 point guards" -- Briscoe, Henry, Luka Voncina and Green (the half).

-- If the 49ers beat the Division II Crusaders, it will be for the first time. OK, so it's not an official game, but Belmont Abbey is 8-0 against Charlotte (they last played in 1969).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's McColl-Richardson Field

When the Charlotte 49ers play their first football game in their on-campus stadium in 2013, they'll do so on McColl-Richardson Field.

The school announced Tuesday the football field will be named for two Charlotte business and sports icons -- Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl.

"Can you think of two people more associated with the development of Charlotte over the last 30 years?" said UNC Charlotte chancellor Phil Dubois. "I can't imagine finding two better."

49ers athletics director Judy Rose wouldn't reveal how much money Richardson and McColl have contributed to the program. The school is valuing the naming rights on the field at $2.5 million, and Rose said Richardson and McColl's donations put the program "well on our way toward that."

The school also is selling naming rights to the 15,000-seat stadium (which began construction in April) for $5 million.

"With their names going on the field, other (potential sponsors) will say, 'Gosh, look at the names they have associated with this school," said Rose. "They add tremendous value and credibility to our program."

When Richardson first considered bringing NFL football to the Carolinas in 1987, McColl was the first person whose advice he sought.

"We haven't failed on a lot of things we've tried to do together," said McColl. "So I doubt we will on this, either."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Football field name coming

The name of the 49ers' football field will be announced at a Tuesday news conference at the site of where the stadium is being constructed.

Look for the field to be named after a family or group of donors. It's not uncommon for college football programs to name the fields, in addition to the stadiums -- they're usually  referred to as (Fill the blank/usually a donor) Field at (Fill in the blank/somtimes naming rights) Stadium.

The 15,000-seat stadium has been under construction since April for the football program that begins play in 2013.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Men's soccer team focusing on postseason

As the Charlotte 49ers prepare to bid farewell to their men’s senior soccer players this weekend with a pair of games at home, sophomore midfielder Tyler Gibson offers this reminder about the team’s goals:

“We still want to win the Atlantic 10 regular season, then win the tournament championship,” said Gibson. “Then we want to win the national championship.”

The 23rd-ranked 49ers (10-3-2, 3-1-2 Atlantic 10) are well positioned for the first two. The third? For a team that has played as challenging a nonconference schedule as Charlotte has this season, it’s not entirely out of the question.

A 2-1 overtime victory at traditional-power Virginia, followed by a competitive, 3-1 loss at top-ranked Maryland helped push Charlotte into the national spotlight. The 49ers also opened their season with a victory against 13th-ranked Coastal Carolina. Only unsatisfying trips to Philadelphia and New York last week – which produced a 2-2 tie with La Salle and a 1-0 loss to Fordham – has cast a bit of a cloud on Charlotte’s season.

“That was kind of one of our weaker weekends,” said Gibson, who has two goals and three assists this season.

Charlotte’s road to the postseason isn’t assured. The 14-team Atlantic 10 tournament (Nov. 10-13 in St. Louis) includes only six teams. Charlotte is in fourth place with 11 points, but just one point behind Fordham, Dayton and La Salle who are tied for first with 12 points each, heading into Friday's game against defending league champ Xavier, currently in fifth place with 10 points (9-3-2, 3-2-1) and Sunday’s game against Dayton (5-11, 4-2).

When it comes to the 48-team NCAA tournament, the 49ers have found themselves a safety net. Their high RPI, currently 17, would give them a strong shot at an at-large spot if they don’t win the automatic berth that comes with the league tournament title.

“It’s good to have that, but we don’t want to have to rely on it,” said coach Jeremy Gunn.

The 49ers will honor seniors Isaac Cowles, Charles Rodriguez, T.J. Beaulieu, Evan James, Matt Wallace, Gavin Dawson, Jason Hawes, Tyler Duncan and Paul Willoughby on Sunday.

-- Charlotte’s women (6-8-4, 3-3-1) are tied for sixth in the Atlantic 10, heading into their final regular-season games Friday at Xavier and Sunday at Dayton. The 49ers are led by Macky Wingo, who has six goals and four assists.

-- The Atlantic 10 cross-country championships are Saturday at Concord’s Frank Liske Park, with the men’s 8K race beginning at 10 a.m. and the women’s 5K at 10:45. The host Charlotte 49ers are led on the women’s side by 2008 A-10 champ Amanda Goetschius and on the men’s side by Daweet Dagnachew. Richmond is the defending champion in both the men’s and women’s events.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

49ers women 4th in preseason poll

The Charlotte 49ers, coming off a school-record 27 victories, have been chosen fourth in the Atlantic 10's preseason women's basketball poll.

Charlotte was 27-10 last season and advanced to the Women's NIT semifinals. New coach Cara Consuegra has three starters back from that team, including senior guard Epiphany Woodson, a preseason first-team all-conference selection. Junior forward Jennifer Hailey made the second team and also was a first-team all-defensive selection.

The 49ers' run to the WNIT semifinals came during the program's ninth consecutive year in the postseason.
"We're trying to embrace that," said Consuegra, who comes from Charlotte from Marquette, where she was an assistant. "We haven't come in trying to do everything different, our way. We've tried to take the traditions we already have hear and incorporate that into the culture we're building here."

Charlotte opens its season on Nov. 11 at Halton Arena against Presbyterian.

Dayton and Temple tied for first in the preseason poll, followed by Duquesne in third. Defending champ Xavier, which loses four starters, was picked seventh. Woodson is joined by Temple guards Kristen McCarthy and Shey Peddy, Dayton forward Justine Raterman and St. Bonaventure forward Megan Van Tatenhove on the preseason all-conference first team.

Preseason predicted order of finish

1. Dayton (7), 189
    Temple (7), 189
3. Duquesne, 159
4. Charlotte, 141
5. Saint Joseph's, 129
6. St. Bonaventure, 125
7. Xavier, 119
8. Richmond, 112
9. George Washington, 73
10. Massachusetts, 70
11. La Salle, 65
12. Fordham, 42
13. Rhode Island, 31
14. Saint Louis, 26

Preseason all-conference
First Team
Kristen McCarthy, G, Temple; Shey Peddy, G, Temple; Justine Raterman, F, Dayton; Megan Van Tatenhove, F, St. Bonaventure; Epiphany Woodson, G, Charlotte.
Second Team
Vanessa Abel, G; Duquesne; Wumi Agunbiade, F, Duquesne; Michelle Baker, G, Saint Joseph's; Jennifer Hailey, F, Charlotte; Abby Oliver, G, Richmond.
Third Team
Alex Gensler, F, Duquesne; Jessica Jenkins, G, St. Bonaventure; Patrice Lalor, G, Dayton; Tyeasha Moss, G, Xavier; Jasmine Woodson, C, Massachusetts.
Michelle Baker, G, Saint Joseph's; Vanessa Abel, G, Duquesne; Jennifer Haley, F, Charlotte; Casey Nance, C, Dayton; Shey Peddy, G, Temple.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Basketball Madness at Halton Arena

WHAT: Charlotte 49ers’ Basketball Madness, the school’s annual tip-off event for the men’s and women’s teams.

WHEN: Thursday, 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

WHERE: Halton Arena


WHAT TO WATCH: Look for the unveiling of the new-look “Norm the Niner,” the school’s mascot. … The men’s team, which returns four starters under second-year coach Alan Major, will hold its annual slam-dunk contest. …First-year women’s coach Cara Consuegra will showcase three returning starters and 10 letter winners from last season’s team that reached the Women’s National Invitation Tournament’s Final Four and won a school-record 27 games.

IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND: Basketball Madness will be streamed live on and broadcast live on Time Warner Cable for Mecklenburg County subscribers.

- Harry Pickett

Friday, October 14, 2011

49ers get basketball started

Observations from the Charlotte 49ers' first basketball practice, which tipped off today at 5 p.m. Charlotte is coming off a 10-20 season in which the 49ers failed to qualify for the Atlantic 10 tournament. Four starters return, with seven new scholarship players also coming into the program.

-- "Options." That was the word coach Alan Major used to describe the 15 players he saw on the court. Last season -- due to suspension, eligibility issues and injuries -- Major often had just two scholarship players on the bench. Now, with freshmen Pierria Henry, E. Victor Nickerson, Mike Thorne and Terrence Williams, transfers DeMario Mayfield and Ilija Ivankovic and sophomore Luka Voncina (who sat out last year due to eligibility issues), Major has a lot from which to choose.

-- Many of those options come from players like Mayfield, Nickerson and Williams, who can all play on the wing. The starting backcourt of Deuce Briscoe and Derrio Green is back. Both guards played heavy minutes last year, which might be why they each averaged about three turnovers per game and shot less than 40 percent.  Henry and Voncina will provide depth -- if not push for those starting spots.

-- If there's a spot where the 49ers are thin, it's in the post. Starter Chris Braswell is back, as is K.J. Sherrill. The only other guys with any size are Ivankovic (6-10) and Thorne (6-10), but they'll need to develop quickly to contribute. Senior Javarris Barnett (6-7) might be asked to play some power forward, but he's more of a perimeter player.

-- Green, the team's leading returning scorer (13.0), worked on his shooting a lot over the summer. That's good, because he made just 33.4 percent of his shots last season and is a 34.9 percent shooter for his career.

--  The nonconference schedule, which opens at home against N.C. Central on Nov. 11, lacks pizazz.  Most attractive home games are Dec. 10 against Davidson and Dec. 22 against Miami. The end of December brings two compelling games -- at Arkansas on Dec. 28 and at Memphis on Dec. 31.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

49ers 11th in preseason poll

Charlotte's men's basketball team has been selected to finish 11th in the Atlantic 10 in the league's preseason poll. Xavier is the preseason favorite, followed by Temple.

49ers forward Chris Braswell and guard Derrio Green were both third-team preseason all-conference selections.

Here's what was decided at the league's media day Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y.:

Preseason order of finish:

1. Xavier (18) 304
2. Temple (4) 287
3. Saint Louis 239
4. St. Bonaventure 217
5. Richmond 196
6. Dayton 168
7. St. Joseph’s 165
8. George Washington 163
9. Duquesne 151
10. Rhode Island 117
11. Charlotte 115
12. Massachusetts 107
13. La Salle 52
14. Fordham 29

All conference
Name School Pos. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
Tu Holloway XU G Sr. Hempstead, N.Y. 19.7 5.0 5.4
Andrew Nicholson SBU F Sr. Mississauga, Ontario 20.8 7.3 1.0
Ramone Moore TU G Sr. Philadelphia, Pa. 15.2 4.2 3.1
Juan Fernandez TU G Sr. Rio Tercero, Argentina 11.2 2.9 3.9
Tony Taylor GW G Sr. Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. 15.0 3.3 4.6

Second team
Name School Pos. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
Mark Lyons XU G Jr. Schenectady, N.Y. 13.6 3.1 3.1
Chris Gaston FOR F Jr. Union City, N.J. 15.9 11.3 1.3
*Kwamain Mitchell SLU G R-Jr. Milwaukee, Wis. 15.9 3.0 3.0
Chris Johnson UD F Sr. Columbus, Ohio 11.9 6.0 1.6
Kenny Frease XU C Sr. Massillon, Ohio 11.7 7.1 1.2

*Stats are from the 2009-2010 Season

Third team
Name School Pos. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
T.J. McConnell DUQ G Soph. Pittsburgh, Pa. 10.8 3.8 4.4
Carl Jones SJU G Jr. Garfield Heights, Ohio 17.0 2.6 3.4
Scootie Randall TU F Sr. Philadelphia, Pa. 10.7 4.7 1.4
Chris Braswell CHA F Jr. Capitol Heights, Md. 11.1 6.9 1.0
Derrio Green CHA G Sr. Panama City, Fla. 13.0 3.5 3.8

Name School Pos. Yr. Hometown PPG SPG BPG
C.J. Aiken SJU F Soph. Conshohocken, Pa. 7.4 0.4 3.5
Tu Holloway XU G Sr. Hempstead, N.Y. 19.7 1.4 0.1
Andrew Nicholson SBU F Sr. Mississauga, Ontario 20.8 0.5 1.5
T.J. McConnell DUQ G Soph. Pittsburgh, Pa. 10.8 2.8 0.2
Darrius Garrett UR F/C Sr. Raleigh, N.C. 1.9 0.1 1.6

Name School Pos. Yr. Hometown
Dezmine Wells XU G/F Fr. Raleigh, N.C.
Jerrell Wright LAS F Fr. Philadelphia, Pa.
Justin Martin XU F R-Fr. Indianapolis, Ind.
Cady LaLanne UM F Fr. Orlando, Fla.
Alonzo Nelson-Odada UR F Fr. Atlanta, Ga.
Anthony Lee TU F R-Fr. Columbia, Md.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Former 49er Withers invited to Pan Am tryouts

Former 49ers basketball star Curtis Withers has been invited to try out for the U.S. team that will play in the Pan Am Games later this month in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Withers, a 6-8 forward, left Charlotte in 2006 as the school's seventh-leading career scorer (1,750 points) and No. 3 rebounder (1,042). He also had 46 double-doubles, second all-time at Charlotte.

Withers' pro career has sent him just about everywhere. After being drafted by the Continental Basketball Association's Atlanta franchise, he's played in Turkey, Puerto Rico, France, Turkey (again), Venezuela, Israel, Mexico, Spain and China. He also played for the Dakota Wizards of the NBA's D League.

Withers (a West Charlotte High product) also has plenty of USA Basketball experience: He played for the 2004 USA U-20 team that won a world championship and played on the U21 team that finished fifth in 2005.

Monday, October 10, 2011

CAA going after 49ers, other A-10 schools?

As conference relignment uncertainty continues on the FBS level, the New York Times is reporting the Charlotte 49ers are one of three schools the Colonial Athletic Association might be trying to pry from the Atlantic 10. The CAA, according to the story, is also interested in Boston University of the America East.

The CAA would hope to add Charlotte, Richmond and George Washington from the Atlantic 10, according to the story.

There are a lot of moving parts to this:

This would obviously be a basketball move. The Atlantic 10 doesn't sponsor football; Richmond is already a football-only member of the CAA.  Charlotte, which starts football in 2013, has already told the CAA it would like to join, but as a football-playing member only -- an offer 49ers athletics director Judy Rose says the CAA declined.

The question, though, could become: Would joining the CAA in basketball (and other sports) become more attractive to Charlotte if Richmond and George Washington were to also go?

And, here's where it gets crazy again, the NYT story also says the Atlantic 10 could ask current CAA members Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason to join.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Football recruiting target nears return

North Davidson High quarterback Karsten Miller, who broke his leg in the Knights' season opener in August, might return to the Knights as early as next week.

Miller, who has been offered a scholarship by the 49ers, has been off crutches for a few weeks, according to coach Mark Holcomb. He's going to the doctor on Friday and, if he's cleared, could play in North Davidson's homecoming game Oct. 14 against West Forsyth. He had a rod inserted in his femur and was never in a cast.

Charlotte remains the only school to offer Miller a scholarship, and Holcomb said Miller had hoped he would received more offers had he stayed healthy this season.  But Holcomb said even if Miller receives other offers after he returns, Charlotte, for now at least, would remain the favorite.

A former North Davidson teammate of Miller's, offensive tackle Thomas Frazier, is a freshman at Charlotte and hopes to make the team as a walk-on. Frazier, 6-3, 285 pounds, played in the East-West All-Star game in Greensboro last summer. He only heard from Division II programs like Lenoir-Rhyne (although he also considered walking on at N.C. State.

Monday, October 3, 2011

49ers hoops teams in Uptown Tipoff

49ers news and notes

-- The 49ers men's and women's basketball teams will be uptown on Tuesday from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. for their preseason Uptown Tipoff. The teams, along with coaches Alan Major and Cara Consuegra, will be at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets, along with 49ers cheerleaders, the Gold Dusters dance team, the band and, of course, Norm the Niner. Several prizes and giveaways will be available.

-- Charlotte's men's soccer team stayed in the Soccer America rankings despite its 3-1 loss last week at Maryland. The 49ers dropped from 14th to 16th. They play their Atlantic 10 opener Saturday at UMass.

-- The 49ers golf team finished third in this weekend's Myers Invitational at Duke's Duke Golf Club. The Blue Devils won the event, followed by Baylor and Charlotte. The 49ers, who led the tournament entering Sunday's final round, were led by Raoul Menard, who finished tied for fourth individually with an even-par 216.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Power forward commits to 49ers

Willie Clayton, a 6-8 senior power forward from Thomasville (Ga.) High, committed to the 49ers today.

Clayton is ranked 47th in the country among power forwards by He chose the 49ers over Mercer.

He's the second commitment picked up by coach Alan Major for 2012. Shaun Lester, a 6-2 shooting guard from Mooresville, gave Charlotte a verbal commitment a few weeks ago. Lester and Clayton made their official visit to Charlotte together.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

49ers to play as FCS independent

It appears that the Charlotte 49ers will play football as an independent, at least for the foreseeable future.

Athletics director Judy Rose said Thursday that the Colonial Athletic Association -- which the 49ers had hoped to join as a football-only member when they begin playing in 2013 -- would only consider accepting Charlotte in all sports.

"It was all or nothing with the CAA," said Rose, who wants the remainder of Charlotte's athletic programs to remain affiliated with the non-football Atlantic 10. "So we're an independent in football for an indefinite period of time. It's not ideal, but we're fine with that."

The CAA was one of three Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) leagues the 49ers had been in contact with. In June, the Southern Conference and Big South both said they wouldn't extend invitations for the 49ers to join. Charlotte has been a dominant force in many sports in the Atlantic 10 since joining in 2005. The 49ers have won a league-high 30 conference championships (none in men's basketball) in those six years.

Playing as a football independent, as Rose said, isn't ideal. Scheduling difficulties and a lack of consistent natural rivalries that come with playing in a league are major problems an independent program faces. Charlotte has already completed its 11-game 2013 schedule (included is a game against the CAA's Old Dominion) and is looking to add another game to the 11 it already has scheduled for '14. The 49ers recently added the CAA's Richmond to their 2016 and '17 schedules.

Charlotte could be the FCS's only independent in 2013. Four schools are independent this season (Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State), but they've found conference homes for 2012.

Rose has kept her eye on the realignment news in FBS recently. The 49ers would someday like to move up to that division.

"We haven't kicked a football yet and all this is football driven," said Rose. "Do I wish it had happened sooner and that we had started football 10 years ago? Sure. Then that might have allowed us some opportunities that we may or may not have now

"And it may still create some opportunities for us, we just don't know what they might be yet. Would somebody take a risk on us? It's a great market, a great city, there's lots of vision here."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A-10 tournament moves to Brooklyn

The Atlantic 10 made it official today: The league's men's basketball tournament will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2013.

The tournament moves to Brooklyn from Atlantic City, N.J., where it has been held since 2007. The Barclays Center, which is still under construction, is also the future home of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.

"The opportunity to partner with the Barclays Center and bring the Atlantic 10 basketball championship to New York has unlimited possibilities," said conference commissioner Bernadette McGlade. "Our teams will compete in the newest state of the art facility within the Atlantic 10 footprint and the No. 1 media market in the country."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

49ers add Richmond to '16, '17 football schedules

The 49ers have added FCS power Richmond to their 2016 and '17 football schedules.

Charlotte -- which will play football for the first time in 2013 -- will play at Richmond Sept. 10, 2016, while the Spiders will come to Charlotte on Sept. 9, 2017.

The Spiders won the FCS national title in 2008.

“We are excited to have a team of the caliber of Richmond on our schedule,” said Charlotte coach Brad Lambert. “They have won the national championship and compete at the highest level of FCS football. Our fans are also familiar with the University of Richmond since we compete with them in the A-10.”

The Spiders compete in football in the Colonial Athletic Association, a league the 49ers are interested in joining.

-- The 49ers will play Belmont Abbey in a preseason men's basketball exhibition Nov. 3 at Halton Arena. The regular season opens Nov. 11 at home against N.C. Central.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soccer America ranks 49ers 19th

The 49ers' men's soccer team is ranked 19th in this week's Soccer America magazine's men's poll.

Charlotte (5-1) had a big victory on Friday, winning at then-No. 17 Virginia. The 49ers' schedule doesn't get any easier. They play at Clemson tonight, then, after a home game Saturday against Campbell, play at top-ranked Maryland next Tuesday.

49ers midfielder Tyler Gibson was also named the Atlantic 10's player of the week. Gibson's penalty kick tied the game in the final minute of regulation against Virginia.

Soccer America's poll

Team (Record) Last week
1. Maryland (7-0-0) 1
2. Connecticut (6-0-0) 2
3. Creighton (5-0-0) 3
4. North Carolina (5-1-0) 5
5. Akron (4-0-2) 4
6. Louisville (5-1-0) 6
7. Indiana (5-0-2) 7
8. UCF (6-0-1) 8
9. UC Santa Barbara (4-1-1) 9
10. UC Irvine (7-1-0) 10
11. Old Dominion (4-0-0) 11
12. St. John's (5-1-1) 14
13. UCLA (4-2-1) 16
14. Boston College (5-1-0) 18
15. Notre Dame (4-1-2) 20
16. West Virginia (4-2-1) 22
17. New Mexico (5-0-2) 23
18. USF (4-2-1) 12
19. Charlotte (5-1-0) NR
20. UAB (5-0-2) NR
21. Santa Clara (4-1-1) NR
22. East Tennessee State (5-1-0) NR
23. Furman (6-1-1) NR
24. Northern Illinois (6-1-0) 13
25. Coastal Carolina (5-2-0) NR

Saturday, September 17, 2011

49ers-Panthers football tailgate

The 49ers will host a tailgate party before most Panthers home games this season, beginning Sunday with their home-opener against Green Bay.

The tailgate, which will be feature coach Brad Lambert and his staff, runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and will be held in The Observer's lower parking lot on the corner of South Mint and West Stonewall streets. Just look for the green Charlotte 49ers tent.

Available at the tailgate, along with the chance to meet the coaches and Norm the Niner: schedule posters, seat license information, 49ers koozies, cornhole games and chances to win T-shirts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

49ers coaches visit Georgia recruit

Charlotte 49ers head men's basketball coach Alan Major and assistant Desmond Oliver made an in-home visit to one of their top recruiting targets Wednesday night.

Major and Oliver were in Thomasville, Ga., to visit Willie Clayton, a 6-8 power forward at Thomasville High.

Thomasville coach Ben Tillman met with Major and Oliver before they went to Clayton's house.

"They talked about Willie and how he might fit into their program, and the direction they were headed," said Tillman.

Tillman said Clayton has his choices narrowed to Charlotte, South Florida and Mercer. He said Clayton likely won't announce his decision before Oct. 1

The 49ers already have a verbal commitment from Mooresville High shooting guard Shawn Lester. Clayton made his official visit to Charlotte a few weeks ago with Lester.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

49ers open women's A10 schedule at Xavier

The Charlotte 49ers' women's basketball team gets a tough challenge for its Atlantic 10 opener when it travels to defending league champion Xavier on Jan. 7. The league announced the conference schedule on Thursday and the 49ers will face 14 teams overall that played in the postseason in 2010-11.

Charlotte has a new coach in Cara Consuegra and returns three starters from last season's WNIT semifinal team.

Nov. 11, Presbyterian; 13, Arkansas State; 16, at Virginia Tech; 19, Elon; 22, at Virginia Commonwealth; 25-26, at Long Island Turkey Classic (Long Island, Florida).

Dec. 4, at Florida State; 7, UNC Wilmington; 19, at Ohio State; 21, N.C. A&T; 29-20, Sun and Fun Classic, Miami (Auburn, Florida International/Albany).

Jan. 3, Furman; 7, at Xavier; 11, Saint Louis; 14, at George Washington; 18, La Salle; 21, St. Bonaventure; 25, at Fordham; 29, at Temple.

Feb. 1, Massachusetts; 4, Rhode Island; 8, at Dayton; 11, at Duquesne; 18, Saint Joseph's; 22, at Saint Louis; 26, Richmond.

March 2-5, Atlantic 10 tournament, Philadelphia.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Football walk-on meeting set

-- More tangible evidence of football at Charlotte comes Monday (Sept. 12) when the 49ers coaching staff holds an informational session for prospective walk-ons. The session will be at 5 p.m. in the After Hours Dining Area in the Cone Center on campus.

Walk-ons must be full-time students at Charlotte. Members of the 49ers coaching staff and the school's compliance office will be there. Dates for walk-on tryouts haven't been set.

-- 49ers women's basketball player Jessica Johnson tore the ACL in her right knee last week and will miss the season. Johnson, a junior guard who started six games last season, will redshirt. Also, sophomore guard Lanie Whitaker has left the program and will transfer.

-- The 49ers' men's soccer team controlled much of the game Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at South Carolina. The 49ers outshot the Gamecocks 17-7 and had more cornerkicks by a wide margin (9-2). Also, Aidan Kirkbride hit the post with a shot. Charlotte's next game is Friday at Elon.

Gamecocks top 49ers

Donnie Smith scored a goal for the second straight game for Charlotte (2-1-0), but the 49ers fell 2-1 in men's soccer at South Carolina.

Stephen Morrissey and Vance Benson scored for the Gamecocks (1-2-0).

Observer News Services

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

49ers open league play with Spiders

The Charlotte 49ers open their Atlantic 10 men's basketball season Jan. 4 at Halton Arena against Richmond.

The rest of the schedule:

Jan. 7, at Saint Joseph's; 11, at Massachusetts; 14, Saint Louis; 21, at George Washington; 25, Temple; 28, Xavier.

Feb. 1, at La Salle; 4, at Fordham; 11, Rhode Island; 15, at Dayton; 18, at Richmond; 21, George Washington; 25, St. Bonaventure; 29, Duquesne.

March 3, at Xavier; 6, Atlantic 10 tournament first round, at higher-seeded sites; 9-11, Atlantic 10 tournament, at Atlantic City, N.J.

Friday, September 2, 2011

49ers open with N.C. Central

The 49ers have released their 2011-12 nonconference men's basketball schedule:

Nov. 11, N.C. Central
Nov. 15, at Central Michigan
Nov. 19, at Lamar
Nov. 22, East Tennessee
Nov. 26, at Wright State
Dec. 3, at East Carolina
Dec. 6, at Radford
Dec. 10, Davidson
Dec, 19, Coppin State
Dec. 22,  Miami
Dec. 28, at Arkansas
Dec. 31, at Memphis
Jan. 18, Kennesaw State

Thursday, September 1, 2011

49ers women's basketball opens with Presbyterian

The 49ers women's basketball team will open its season at Halton Arena on Nov. 11 against Presbyterian. That will be part of a season-opening doubleheader with the men's team (which has yet to announce its schedule ... more on that below).

The rest of the women's nonconference schedule (the Atlantic 10 has yet to announce the league schedule), which features seven teams that played in the postseason in 2010-11:

Nov. 13, Arkansas State; 16, at Virginia Tech; 19, Elon; 22, at VCU; 25-26, Long Island Turkey Classic (Long Island, Florida).
Dec. 4, at Florida State; 7, UNC Wilmington; 19, at Ohio State; 21, N.C. A&T; 29-30, Sun and Fun Classic (Miami), Auburn, Florida International/Albany.
Jan. 3, Furman.

-- The men's schedule isn't ready yet (and the A10 also hasn't released conference games). But we know this much:

-- The season opener is Nov. 11 at Halton, against a MEAC team. Other nonconference games that are set: Nov. 15, at Central Michigan; Nov. 22 East Tennessee; Nov. 26, at Wright State; Dec. 3, at East Carolina; Dec. 6, at Radford, Dec. 10, Davidson; Dec. 19, Coppin State; Dec. 22, Miami; Dec. 28, at Arkansas; Dec. 31, at Memphis.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Basketball recruit a double threat?

Some 49ers news and notes:

The 49ers' athletic department is having a staff retreat today. Wonder if football coach Brad Lambert is talking to men's basketball coach Alan Major about Shawn Lester?

Charlotte got its first basketball class of 2012 commitment Tuesday from Lester, a shooting guard from Mooresville High. Lester, incidentally, is also an excellent football player. A 6-3 wide receiver, he caught a game-tying touchdown pass (going up over a few defenders to get it) in the Blue Devils' recent upset of West Rowan (snapping the Falcons' nation-best 46-game winning streak).

Lester was accompanied on his official visit to Charlotte a few weeks ago by 6-8 power forward Willie Clayton of Thomasville, Ga.

Thomasville coach Ben Tillman says Clayton is a rugged player who likes to play in the post. He's also considering South Florida, Mercer and Old Dominion, according to Tillman.

-- Former 49ers point guard Mitchell Baldwin has just been hired as an assistant coach at Metrolina Christian in Indian Trail.

"(We) are excited to have him on our coaching staff," said Metrolina Christian head coach Michael Wilson in an email. "He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy to our program."

Another former Charlotte player -- DeMarco Johnson -- was recently hired as an assistant at Hampton.

-- With Charlotte's first football game exactly two years away (Aug. 31, 2013 against Campbell) a student-run tailgate party was scheduled for today (Thursday) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to celebrate. Among the activities is a field-goal kicking contest.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mooresville's Lester commits to 49ers

Shawn Lester, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Mooresville High, has committed to Charlotte. Lester chose the 49ers over Clemson and South Carolina.

Lester, a senior, averaged 18.5 points, 5 assists and 5 steals for the Blue Devils (19-11), who lost to Western 4A regional qualifier Olympic in the first round of the playoffs.

"I thought that was right for me," Lester said. "It'll help me get my degree and help me be a better player and I hope to help them win."

Lester said the Charlotte staff told him he'd play shooting guard.

"I'm comfortable with the (shooting guard position)," he said. "I'm glad I can get this (college choice) done early and focus on my academics and focus on getting ready for my senior season." -- Langston Wertz Jr.

Fast start for 49ers' James

Charlotte men's soccer coach Jeremy Gunn probably isn't surprised 49ers senior forward Evan James is the Atlantic 10's first player-of-the-week of the season.

Coming off a four-goal season in 2010, James scored both the 49ers' goals in Monday's season-opening 2-1 victory at Coastal Carolina.

Gunn expects James to be much more productive this season. James was injured (groin) for much of the  preseason in 2010, and although he played in all 19 of Charlotte's games, Gunn felt like he never was able to fully recover.

"He never had the stamina he needed because he missed so much work in the spring and summer," said Gunn.

Charlotte opens at home Sunday at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field against UNC Wilmington.
-- This from my colleague Langston Wertz Jr.: Marvin Ridge High soccer player Kyle Parker has committed to the 49ers. Parker started on the Mavericks' 2009 state championship team.

49ers men win soccer opener

Evan James scored twice and the Charlotte 49ers (1-0) rallied for a 2-1 men's soccer victory at Coastal Carolina (0-1). Kjartan Sigurdsson's goal put the Chanticleers up 1-0 early.

-- Natalie Lavigne made six saves and Charlotte (1-1-2) played to a 0-0 tie with Providence (0-0-3) in women's soccer Sunday.

-- Observer news services

Friday, August 26, 2011

49ers volleyball opens season

-- The 49ers volleyball team opens its season this weekend in a tournament at Appalachian State. Charlotte faces Kennesaw State today at 4:30 p.m., then plays N.C. State at 10 a.m. Saturday and Appalachian State at 7 p.m.

Charlotte is coming off its first winning season since 2007 and is led by captain Sheri Davis, a senior setter.

The 49ers open at home next weekend in the Hilton University 49er Invitational n Halton Arena. The 49ers will play Campbell Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.,then go against Morgan State (12:30 p.m.) and Furman (7 p.m.) Sept. 10.

-- Charlotte's women's soccer team (1-0-1) plays its first two home games of the season this weekend, going against Florida Gulf Coast today at 7 p.m. and Providence at 1 p.m. Sunday. The 49ers opened their season last weekend with a tie against North Florida and a victory against Jacksonville.

-- The 49ers' men's soccer team's opener at Coastal Carolina was moved from Saturday to Monday, due to the expected weather caused by Hurricane Irene in Conway, S.C..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 49ers football prospects to watch

Although their first season is still two years away, the Charlotte 49ers are already recruiting players. Here’s a list of 10 prospective 49ers -- some of whom Charlotte has already offered scholarships to, others the 49ers are interested in and others who are interested in the 49ers -- along with their schedules. Most are in the Charlotte area if 49ers fans want to see them play this season, but a few would require a road trip.

Zach Blair, QB, 6-4, 220, Gray (S.C.) Military Academy: In Columbia-area prep school now, transferred from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, where he played with Marcus Lattimore, now a star running back at South Carolina ... Scheduled to play in Charlotte on Sept. 29 against N.C. Tech.
Saturday: Orangeburg-Calhoun Prep.
Sept. 4, at Atlanta Sports Academy. 18, at Hampton Roads (Va.) CC; 24, Jireh Prep; 29, at N.C. Tech.
Oct. 8, at Point University; 16, Greenville Tech; 23, Chattahoochee Tech; 29, Fork Union.
Nov. 6, West Virginia Prep; 12, at Southern Tech.

Justin Bolus, athlete, 6-2, 190, James Island (S.C.): Offered by 49ers ... Best chance for him to play in college is probably at linebacker, but he’s playing quarterback this season because he’s the team’s best athlete ... Has also played safety and tailback ... Also has interest from Georgia State, Furman, Army, Liberty, Georgia Southern.
Friday: at St. John’s.
Sept. 2, Stall; 8, at Colleton County; 16, Wando; 23, at Ashley Ridge; 30, at Beaufort.
Oct. 7, Summerville; 14, Goose Creek; 21, at Fort Dorchester; 28, at Stratford.
Nov. 4, W. Ashley.

Matt Carrick, OL, 6-2, 260, Ardrey Kell: Is an FCS prospect (6-2, 260 pounds) and has expressed interest in 49ers.
Friday: at Marvin Ridge.
Sept. 2, at Hopewell; 9, Weddington; 16, S. Mecklenburg; 23, at Independence; 30, Myers Park.
Oct. 7, at Butler; 14, at E. Mecklenburg; 21, at Rocky River; 28, at Providence.

Andrew Goodman, QB, 6-2, 210, Mallard Creek: Big, strong-armed leader of top team in Charlotte area ... Has offer from Western Michigan and also considering Youngstown State.
Friday: at Sun Valley.
Sept. 2, at Berry; 16, at Mooresville; 23, at Lake Norman; 30, at Vance.
Oct. 7, at N. Mecklenburg; 14, Hopewell; 21, at W. Charlotte; 28, Hough.

Martez Hester, S, 6-3, 175, North Cobb (Ga.): Offered by 49ers ... Also has offers from Alabama-Birmingham and Arkansas State.
Friday: Alpharetta.
Sept. 2, at Centennial; 9, Lassiter; 16, at Kennesaw Mountain; 30, at Campbell.
Oct. 7, Pebblebrook; 14, Hillgrove; 21, at McEachern; 28, S. Cobb.
Nov. 4, at Harrison.

Karsten Miller, QB, 6-2, 200, North Davidson: Offered by 49ers ... Broke his leg in season opener last week, not known if he’ll back this season ... Accounted for 27 TDs for Knights in 2010. Tonight:
Friday: Ledford.
Sept. 2, at E. Davidson; 9, at Statesville; 16, Lexington; 23, at Asheboro; 30, at Winston-Salem Mount Tabor.
Oct. 7, at Pfafftown Reagan; 14, at W. Forsyth; 21, at Winston-Salem Reynolds; 28, at Davie County.

Harrison Monk, OT, 6-4, 255, Providence: Offered by 49ers ... Team captain also has interest in Marshall, Towson, Furman.
Friday: at Charlotte Catholic.
Sept. 2, Hough; 16, Rocky River; 23, at S. Mecklenburg; 30, Independence.
Oct. 7, at Myers Park; 14, Butler; 21, East Mecklenburg; 28, at Ardrey Kell.

Jarvis Morgan, WR, 6-3, 180, West Rowan: Might be a reach for Charlotte ... Rangy receiver who has also heard from Wake Forest.
Friday: Davie County.
Sept. 2, at Salisbury; 10, Rock Hill South Pointe; 16, Statesville; 23, at S. Rowan; 30, E. Rowan.
Oct. 7, at Reidsville; 14, at N. Iredell; 21, China Grove Carson; 28, at W. Iredell.

Ryan Smith, QB, 5-11, 175, Sun Valley: His brother Cory went to UNC Pembroke a few years ago when the Braves were starting their program ... Also considering Coastal Carolina, South Carolina ... Charlotte also interested in Sun Valley C Jarred Barr and RB Jadarrius Williams, according to Spartans coach Scott Stein.
Friday: at Mallard Creek.
Sept. 9, at Garinger; 23, at Clover, S.C.; 30, at Anson.
Oct. 7, at Marvin Ridge; 14, Monroe Parkwood; 21, at Weddington; 28, at Porter Ridge.

Logan Stoodley, LB, 6-0, 210, West Rowan: Defensive MVP of last season’s N.C. 3A championship game is just a junior this season.
Friday: Davie County.
Sept. 2, at Salisbury; 10, Rock Hill South Pointe; 16, Statesville; 23, at S. Rowan; 30, E. Rowan.
Oct. 7, at Reidsville; 14, at N. Iredell; 21, China Grove Carson; 28, at W. Iredell.