Saturday, December 22, 2012

Florida State Seminoles at Charlotte 49ers observations

Observations from the Charlotte 49ers' 79-76 loss to Florida State on Saturday:

• Charlotte coach Alan Major got emotional - he teared up, actually - when talking about the play of freshman guard Ivan Benkovic. Benkovic, one of the 49ers' best 3-point shooters, entered the game for the first time with 12 seconds and Charlotte trailing 78-73. His instructions: to shoot. Instead, Benkovic passed up an open 3 and passed to E. Victor Nickerson, who nailed a 3 from the corner, cutting the lead to two points. Benkovic got the ball back later, missing a long 3 as the buzzer sounded that would have tied it.

"I want to give credit to Ivan Benkovic," said Major, pausing to compose himself. "He doesn't go in the whole game and he's in there to shoot. Instead he passes to an open teammate. He tries to do the right thing. As a coach, that's all you want, to see your kids do the right thing."

• The 49ers wore black uniforms, something they rarely do, as part of a "Black Out" for fans at Time Warner Cable Arena. The upper deck of the arena was curtained off, making for a more intimate atmosphere for the crowd of 7,249.

• Charlotte's next game is Jan. 2 against UNC Asheville at Halton Arena. Although they're only 5-7, the Bulldogs won at St. John's 72-65 Friday and narrowly lost to N.C. State 82-80 in November. The 49ers are off until Friday, when they'll return to campus for practice.

• Biggest hit of the game was the pick set by Florida State's Terrance Shannon on Charlotte guard Denzel Ingram in the open court. Ingram went down hard, but bounced back up.

• Happy holidays to all.

Halftime: Charlotte 40, Florida State 35

Halftime from Time Warner Cable Arena:

The 49ers lead Florida State 40-35, thanks to an 18-9 run to close the half. Charlotte is holding the Seminoles to 37.9 percent shooting and outrebounding them 14-11.

Florida State guard Michael Snaer leads all scorers with 17 points. Chris Braswell has been a spark for Charlotte, coming off the bench to score 10 points and grab four rebounds.

The Seminoles led 26-22 with 7:02 left in the half before a 49ers rally, fueled by Braswell and point guard Pierria Henry, allowed Charlotte to take control. A free throw by Henry gave the 49ers a 34-33 lead with 2:30 left and Charlotte stretched the lead to 5 by halftime.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

49ers football signs two 4-year transfers

The 49ers added some experience to their football program Thursday, signing two senior transfers from four-year colleges: wide receiver Mikel Hunter from Air Force and tight end CJ Crawford from Marshall.

“With the addition of these two guys we satisfied our need to continue to put age on our team,” coach Brad Lambert said in a statement. “We added some much needed senior leadership to our team.”

Hunter (5-foot-9) is from Rockdale, Ga., had 19 catches for 350 yards in his three-year career with the Falcons (he didn't play in 2012), also rushing for 380 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on an 80-yard run against South Dakota in Air Force's 2011 season opener.

“He’s a senior wideout that brings a lot of speed to the table,” Lambert said. “He has a lot of experience playing at a high level at Air Force. We can throw him the ball or hand him the ball -- he’s done both for them. We’re excited to have him join our program.”

Crawford (6-2) graduated from Marshall earlier this month and will be a graduate student at Charlotte. He caught 11 passes for 107 yards last season for the Thundering Herd and had 21 receptions for 175 yards as a sophomore. He caught a 3-yard, game-winning touchdown pass against Louisville in 2011.

“CJ plays in the H-Back spot and we think we can move him around,” Lambert said. “We can use him as a wideout, a tight end, a back. He’s athletic and can stretch the field for us and he brings a lot of versatility to our offense.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Observations: Radford

 Observations from Charlotte's 68-52 victory against Radford on Wednesday:

-- This was a game the 49ers should have won handily, and they did (despite the Highlanders cutting it to 12 with three minutes left). Charlotte (11-1) had plenty of defensive intensity early and was able to outscore Radford 50-28 in the paint. Although seven of the 49ers' previous 10 victories had been in double figures, they hadn't gotten out of the gate as decisively as they did Wednesday.

 -- That leads Charlotte to Saturday, when the 49ers face Florida State at Time Warner Cable Arena. Things didn't go too well the last time they faced an ACC team -- a 31-point loss to Miami (Charlotte's only loss of the season) last Friday. Players say they learned from that game -- mostly that they have to compete from the opening tip -- and this will be a chance for some redemption. But facing the defending ACC tournament champs Seminoles will be a challenge.

-- Radford had two players from Charlotte in its starting lineup: senior guard Blake Smith (United Faith Christian) and freshman point guard Rashun Davis (Davidson Day), who replaced the injured R.J. Price (ankle), the Highlanders’ second-leading scorer.

-- Heard that 5,300 seats had been sold as of Wednesday to Saturday’s game against Florida State. So, plenty of good ones are still available.

-- Charlotte center Chris Braswell usually comes into the game after four or five minutes. He often announces his presence by shooting a 3-pointer, which sometimes goes in.

-- This season's 9-0 start this season was the best in 49ers history; Charlotte's 11-1 record has now been matched only by the 1976-77 Final Four team's 13-1 start and the 11-1 start of the 1991-92 team that won the Metro Conference title.

Halftime update: Charlotte 38, Radford 19

Charlotte leads Radford 38-19 at halftime.

The first half was mostly about Charlotte’s defense as the 49ers jumped to a 38-19 lead. The 49ers, who entered the game holding opponents to 37.3 percent shooting, limited the Highlanders to 26.7 percent (eight of 30). Charlotte had five steals (three by point guard Pierria Henry), which helped account for eight Radford turnovers, as well as three blocked shots.

The 49ers, on the other hand, had their way offensively with Radford. Among the first-half highlights were an alley-oop pass from freshman guard to freshman forward Darion Clark, as well as back-to-back dunks by guard DeMario Mayfield.

Henry ended the first half with a 3-pointer, giving the 49ers their 19-point lead. Henry and forward Willie Clayton both had eight points at halftime as Charlotte shot 56.6 percent. 

49ers add Kansas State to 2016 football schedule

The 49ers have added a game at Kansas State to their 2016 football schedule -- a Sept. 10 contest that will have added meaning to Charlotte coach Brad Lambert, who was an All Big Eight second-team defensive back for the Wildcats in the 1984.

Lambert says when the 49ers begin play in the FBS' Conference USA in 2013, he hopes to have a game scheduled against a team from an BCS league each year. Charlotte has games scheduled against the Big East's Temple in 2015 and '16, is scheduled to play at Virginia Tech in 2019 and is working on a game against Tennessee in 2017.

“We know those guys out there and we’ve talked about scheduling a game and it’s worked out,” Lambert said in a statement. “Things really changed when we joined Conference USA. They had expressed interest when we were FCS, but I don’t know if it would have happened without us going to Conference USA and the FBS. It will be a good homecoming."   
2013 schedule

Aug. 31, Campbell.

Sept. 7, Chowan; 14, N.C. Central; 21, Bye; 28, at Presbyterian.

Oct. 5, Gardner-Webb; 12, UNC Pembroke; 19, Bye; 26, at Charleston Southern.

Nov. 2, at Coastal Carolina; 9, Wesley (Del.); 16, at Old Dominion; 23, at Morehead State.

2014 schedule (subject to change)

Aug. 28, at Campbell.

Sept. 6, Johnson C. Smith; 13, at N.C. Central; 20, Bye; 27, Charleston Southern.

Oct. 4, at Gardner-Webb; 11, at The Citadel; 18, Bye; 25, Old Dominion.

Nov. 1, at Western Carolina; 8, Coastal Carolina; 15, Wesley (Del.); 22, Morehead State.

Other seasons' schedules (subject to change):

2015: Georgia State (Sept. 3); Presbyterian (Sept. 12); Temple (Oct. 3).

2016: at Kansas State (Sept. 10); at Temple (Sept. 24).
2019: at Virginia Tech (TBA).

--The 49ers have also signed linebacker/fullback Caleb Clayton-Molby from Georgia Military College. Clayton-Molby (6-2, 240 pounds) is from Panama City Beach, Fla., and could play H back or inside linebacker at Charlotte.

-- Three 49ers football players (all receivers) will be on Charlotte's track and field team next spring: Will Thomas will be a high jumper; Austin Duke and Ja'quil Capel will be sprinters.

-- The 49ers baseball team signed eight players  for the 2014 season: Pitchers Brett Bond (Barton, Kan., CC), Matt Davis (Wilmington Ashley High), Eric Eason (Wilmington Ashley); infielders Zach Jarrett (Hickory High), T.J. Nichting (Badin High); pitcher-first baseman Jeremy Schelhorn (Weddington High), third baseman-pitcher Logan Sherer (East Mecklenburg High) and infielder-pitcher Brandon Vogler (Winston-Salem Reagan High).

The 49ers open the season Feb. 15 at home against Delaware State.

-- The 49ers will honor the 2003 women's basketball team that made the NCAA tournament during Friday's game against Davidson at Halton Arena.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Observations: Charlotte 49ers at Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. - Observations from the 49ers' 66-52 victory Sunday over Kennesaw State:

-- Here's one way to look at Charlotte's nonconference schedule -- which has been criticized as being too soft (perhaps justifiably so), but was not assembled with an eye on helping the 49ers (10-1) get an at-large NCAA tournament berth -- that's not the goal yet of this young team):

The 49ers beat eight of their first nine opponents convincingly on the way to a 9-0 start -- only Davidson was close in the final minute or so. To fall flat the way they did against Miami wasn't what the 49ers wanted, but they have the chance now against Kennesaw and Wednesday against Radford to get back on track. Then they can measure themselves again against Florida State on Saturday, taking the lessons of Miami into it (most importantly, to expect the Seminoles to come at them hard early in the game). Then comes what will be a challenge against UNC Asheville on Jan. 2 before heading into Atlantic 10 play.

-- Kennesaw State's 3-point percentage was 26.5 entering the game. The Owls made 5-of-6 from long range in the first half (tailing off in the second half to finish 6 of 16).

-- Kennesaw State's Convocation Center is small by Division I standards (4,600 capacity), but it is relatively new (built in 2005) and has a very impressive looking, large video board at one end that was installed last summer. The only banner hanging in the building signifies Kennesaw's 2004 Division II national championship.

-- Charlotte center Chris Braswell struggled offensively in the first half, scoring just three points (on three free throws). But he played well defensively, with two steals and one block (although he had another that he wasn't credited with).

-- 49ers point guard Pierria Henry had another solid floor game, scoring seven points (on 3-of-4 shooting, with two assists and four steals (he also had three turnovers).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Observations from Miami vs. Charlotte

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Observations from the 49ers’ 77-46 loss Friday at Miami:
-- Charlotte’s 9-0 start to the season didn’t mean the 49ers were headed for the NCAA tournament. But losing by 31 to a good Miami team doesn’t mean Charlotte can’t continue moving forward with a young, still developing team.
It all depends on how the 49ers react to the loss and what they learn from it.
The schedule, which has criticized as being too soft, will help with that, with games at one-win Kennesaw State on Sunday and Radford on Wednesday at Halton Arena. Those games will give Charlotte ample opportunity to figure some things out about itself against lesser competition, just in time for another test: Florida State next Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Charlotte won’t face many more teams – if any – with the kind of size the Hurricanes have on their front line. Nor will the 49ers see a backcourt as talented as Miami’s duo of Durand Scott and Shane Larkin. Charlotte was beaten down by Miami down low (having 12 shots blocked) and Larkin and Scott both had four steals, in addition to making 3 of 5 3-pointers between them.
-- With the 49ers losing for a first time, it will be interesting to see if coach Alan Major brings Chris Braswell (and maybe DeMario Mayfield) back into the starting lineup.
-- Commencement ceremonies at UNC Charlotte are Saturday. 49ers Mayfield was to fly to Charlotte from Miami on Saturday morning to attend them, then join the team later in the day at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (where the 49ers, believe it or not, are to change planes on their way to Atlanta and Sunday’s Kennesaw State game). Colby Lewis is also graduating, but isn’t attending today’s ceremonies.
-- Braswell and Miami center Reggie Johnson attended a big-man camp last summer in summer in Chicago put on by Nike and the New York Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire.
-- The crowd was sparse at the BankUnited Center. Miami doesn’t usually draw very well and the fact that students were leaving for the holidays didn’t help. The Hurricanes cheerleaders and dance team weren’t even there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Charlotte 49ers: What they're writing

The 49ers' 9-0 men's basketball start is starting to get the attention of the national media. Here's a sampling of what's been written since Charlotte's victory against Davidson last week:

Andy Katz, ESPN, on Alan Major and other former Xavier assistant coaches

Ryan Fagan, Sporting News, on the Davidson victory.

Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo Sports, says 49ers should be taken seriously now.

Brief mention (at end) from Matt Norlander, CBS Sports.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Observations from Central Michigan

Observations from Charlotte's 78-66 victory against Central Michigan:

-- Pierria Henry didn’t speak with the media after the game, but it’s hard to imagine he would have cursed at the person on his back during Saturday’s loose-ball skirmish had he known it was referee Tracy Woodson (a former N.C. State baseball player who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals). Woodson dove on top of Henry and Central Michigan’s Kyle Randall before they had much of a chance to get things sorted out. Central Michigan coach Keno Davis was also right in the thick of things and also received a tech. He said he was trying to protect the players.

-- Henry won't be suspended for next Friday's game at Miami, since he wasn't ejected for fighting.

-- Charlotte’s 9-0 start is tied for the fifth longest winning streak in school history. Longest is 16 in 1974-75 under coach Bill Foster. The 49ers finished 23-3 that season.

-- The 49ers had 23 assists (led by five apiece by Denzel Ingram and Terrence Williams) on 30 baskets against Central Michigan. “That’s my favorite stat,” said coach Alan Major.

-- Charlotte got a lift when Chris Braswell, DeMario Mayfield and J.T. Thompson -- the team’s three upperclassmen -- entered the game in the first half. Major’s strategy of starting the young guys (three freshmen, two sophomores) and bringing in the more experienced players off the bench, has certainly worked so far.

Charlotte 49ers improve to 9-0 with victory against Central Michigan

The Charlotte 49ers ran their record to 9-0 Saturday with a 78-66 victory against Central Michigan at Halton Arena.

The 49ers were led by guard DeMario Mayfield's 15 points.

The 49ers played the game's final 12:10 without point guard Pierria Henry, who was ejected after getting tangled up with Central Michigan's Kyle Randall going for a loose ball.

The 49ers' next game is next Friday at Miami. Central Michigan plays at Pepperdine on Dec. 16.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Observations from Davidson

DAVIDSON -- Observations from Charlotte's 73-69 victory against Davidson on Wednesday:

-- The 49ers were one of 20 remaining unbeaten teams in the country going into the game, but were labeled a "fraud" by one national columnist on Tuesday, mostly because of the less-than challenging schedule Charlotte had played.

But even more than last season's blowout victory by Charlotte over Davidson, Wednesday's game and the 8-0 record it produced are now real indications that what coach Alan Major is doing with the 49ers' program might be working.

The 49ers are winning with a hustling, energized group of young players, led by a rapidly emerging point guard in Pierria Henry and go-to center Chris Braswell. Charlotte's defense completely knocked Davidson off its offensive axis, hounding the Wildcats into several uncharacteristic turnovers.

"We have five values in our locker room and the first one is humility," said Major. "Nothing is owed us and our next opponent doesn't owe us anything. We've got to come back to the weight room and then practice. Be who you are. Don't lose your identity."
Next up for Charlotte is a game Saturday against Central Michigan at Halton Arena. Looming after that is a game Dec. 14 at Miami.
-- Henry's box score: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 1 turnover. Included in that were Charlotte's last six points, including two free throws with 10.8 seconds left that iced the game.
Davidson's Bob McKillop on Henry: 

"He plays great angles, has long arms and enjoys playing defense. He has the physical tools and the emotional desire. When you combine those two ingredients, it's pretty lethal."

-- The 49ers scored 22 points off 14 Davidson turnovers and got 18 second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds. McKillop said that was the difference in the game.

-- It was also the first true road game for Charlotte and the first time in hostile territory in the careers of freshmen Darion Clark, Willie Clayton, Denzel Ingram and Ivan Benkovic.

"It was just another game on the schedule against good competition," said Clark, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. "The fans and crowd didn’t really bother me. In my head it was just another game."

Clayton had six rebounds, but kept the ball in play on several occasions, tipping and keeping alive loose rebounds.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charlotte 49ers football recruiting update


 The Charlotte 49ers got a verbal commitment from Kannapolis Brown running back Kalif Phillips this week, bringing the number of commitments to 15 for Charlotte’s Class of 2013. There won’t be more than a few more – if any -- high school or junior college commitments for the 49ers this recruiting year, although they will likely start bringing in transfers now that the college football regular-season has ended.

Three of Charlotte’s commitments – Spartanburg defensive back Justin Bridges-Thompson, Mallard Creek offensive tackle Tevin Lawshe and South Stanly linebacker Jordan Starnes – are three-star prospects, according to

Here’s a look at the 49ers’ verbal commitments to date:

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

Blake Brewer, K, 6-1, 190, Concord Cannon School: Interest from North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Tennessee.

Caleb Clayton-Mobley, LB, 6-2, 229, Georgia Military College: From Panama City Beach, Fla., took a year to play junior college ball at GMC.

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

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

Eugene German, OT, 6-5, 250, Martinsburg, W.Va.: Had an early offer from Marshall before committing to Charlotte.

Nick Halmon, DB, 6-0, 180, Bamberg-Erhardt (S.C.):  Will play in this weekend’s North-South all-star game in Myrtle Beach.

Tevin Lawshe, OT, 6-4, 275, Mallard Creek: Had several other offers, including East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Elon.

Devin Pearson, DB/ATH, 5-10, 175, Rock Hill South Pointe High: Helped Stallions to berth in state semifinals.

Kalif Phillips, RB, 5-10, 190, Kannapolis Brown: Averaged 155.6 yards rushing for Wonders this season.

Jordan Starnes, LB, 6-3, 225, South Stanly: Reportedly also had interest from N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Appalachian State.

Jachin Watkins, RB, 6-0, 215, New Bern: Scored four touchdowns against Duffy and Porter Ridge in state championship game.

Ryan Watson, WR, 6-0, 180, Golden West (Calif.) Junior College: Caught 27 passes for 331 yards and three TDs last season.

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

Jamar Winston, DE, 6-8, 240, Dutch Fork, S.C.: Played on state championship runner-up team this season for former Independence coach Tom Knotts.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

49ers-Davidson notes, numbers

One day away from Charlotte-Davidson at the Wildcats' Belk Arena (tip is 8:30 p.m. Wednesday). A few notes and numbers about the game for the Hornets' Nest Trophy.

      -- Charlotte leads the series 27-11.

      -- At 7-0, the 49ers are off to the fastest start in program history. But most strength-of-schedule             rankings place Charlotte's in about the 300 range nationally. Davidson (4-3) has beaten West      Virginia and Vanderbilt and lost to Gonzaga, Milwaukee and New Mexico.

-- One of the series’ more unlikely results was 2011, when the 49ers shot 51.8 percent and won 84-61 at Halton Arena – the largest margin of victory for coach Alan Major in his two-plus seasons at Charlotte. The 49ers would finish 13-17 last season; Davidson was 25-8 and played in the NCAA tournament.

-- This is Davidson’s second home game of the season. The Wildcats beat Division III Emory 93-67 in their season opener at Belk Arena.

-- The 49ers have made more free throws (131) than their opponents have attempted (127). That usually means a team is successful at getting the ball inside.

-- The Wildcats are dangerous from 3-point range, making 40.4 percent of their shots (tied with Virginia Tech for 26th nationally) and second in the Southern Conference. Clint Mann (5-of-8) and Chris Czerapowicz (16-of-32) are both above 50 percent.

-- Charlotte’s field-goal defense of 34.6 percent is tied for fifth nationally with Nevada-Las Vegas, Syracuse and Southeast Missouri State. The 49ers’ scoring defense of 57.9 points per game is tied for 39th.

-- Both teams have deep rotations. Davidson has eight players who average at least 20 minutes (from guard Nik Cochran’s 28.4 to backup guard Tom Droney’s 20.6). Charlotte has 10 who play at least at least 11 minutes per game (from point guard Pierria Henry’s 31.4 to backup guard Ivan Benkovic’s 11.2).

-- Davidson, however, has by far the more experienced team, with all eight of those players either starting or contributing last season. The 49ers, by contrast, have two seniors (center Chris Braswell, forward J.T. Thompson) and one junior (guard DeMario Mayfield) in their top 10.

-- Charlotte’s Pierria Henry is again having a solid defensive season. He’s averaging 2.57 steals, which ranks 29th nationally and is third in the Atlantic 10.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

49ers "staying the course" with Conference USA

   With college athletics conference realignment seemingly changing minute by minute, UNC Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose said Saturday night the 49ers are "staying the course with Conference USA."
   "I don't think this is anywhere near over. I don't know if it will go to four or five conferences with 16 or 18 members," she said.

   "We always keep an eye on what's going on. We did that when all of this started 10 years ago - we kept a pulse on what was going on and said, 'Where do we fit?'

   "We're staying the course with Conference USA. That's where we are and that's where we're staying."

   That doesn't mean Charlotte limited its options, Rose said.

   "We will continue to monitor. We're not looking for something but we're also not going to turn our head if there is a different opportunity that is better for our university."

   The 49ers - currently in the Atlantic 10 - join Conference USA next season in all sports except football, which will be played as an independent in NCAA Football Championship Series subdivision.

   Charlotte's football program is slated to join Conference USA in fall 2015.

   - Jim Utter

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making sense of CUSA moves

Conference USA announced Thursday that it has added Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic, effective no later than the 2014 season.

As conference realignment continues to swirl at a seemingly out-of-control pace, here are a few thoughts about the league's new look (which continues to change substantially) and how the moves might affect the Charlotte 49ers (not to mention trying not to be confused by references to FIU and FAU):

-- Charlotte is no doubt heart-broken about the loss earlier this week of East Carolina to the Big East (in football only). That was going to be a great football rivalry (although there's nothing to say they can't play nonconference games against each other).

-- By adding Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, CUSA stayed at 14 schools and kept with its stated goal of having schools in major media markets. Middle Tennessee, which is located in Murfreesboro, is part of the Nashville TV market, which ranks 29th. FAU is in Boca Raton and benefits from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach market (as does Florida International, another recent addition).

-- So here's how CUSA's East and West divisions could break down in 2015, when Charlotte comes into the league (remember, CUSA is losing ECU, SMU, Houston, Tulane, Memphis and Central Florida).

Florida International
Florida Atlantic
Old Dominion
Middle Tennessee

North Texas
Louisiana Tech
Southern Miss

-- I've heard from some Charlotte fans wondering why the 49ers can't get in the Big East now. After its most recent defections, the new Big East will stretch from sea to shining sea and include what seems to be about half of the current Conference USA. Why would Charlotte want to be in that league? Especially if Cincinnati and/or UConn are the next to bail.

-- Left out of the discussion again is Appalachian State, which still wants to move up to FBS. The Mountaineers could be a logical choice for the Sun Belt, which just lost Middle Tennessee and FAU.

-- And when Charlotte starts football in 2015, this will all have changed several times again anyway, I'd bet.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Braswell isn't starting; football gets a kicker

A few Charlotte 49ers notes while waiting for tonight's 12:30 tip against Northeastern for the Great Alaska Shootout championship:

-- Why isn't Chris Braswell starting? After being suspended for the first game of the season, Braswell hasn't started, instead coming off the bench behind freshmen Willie Clayton and Darion Clark as the 49ers have won their first five games.

The reason Braswell hasn't started since coming back is pretty simple: Coach Alan Major doesn't want to mess with what's working (for the time being).

“Our coaches, like anyone else, want to stay with what you’re doing,” said Major. “Probably one of the reasons we’ve had some success early in the season is Braz has come in with great energy. He’s also going against some second-level defenders, and that’s having an impact.”

Braswell is averaging 24.3 minutes (fourth on the team behind Perria Henry, 32.6; Terrence Williams, 26.6; DeMario Mayfield, 25.0). Those minutes are significantly less than last season, when he averaged 29.8 and scored 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds.

But he's got more help in the front court this season with Clark (20.0) Clayton (18.0 minutes), so his court time might have gone down anyway.

Don't expect Braswell to be a candidate for the Atlantic 10 sixth-man-of-the-year award, however. He'll be back in the starting lineup soon, I'd bet.

Mayfield, incidentally, also might have been a starter had he not been suspended the first two games of the season. But he's been effective off the bench, too, as his 17 points against Oral Roberts in the Alaska semifinals attest.

-- The 49ers football team picked up a commitment from Concord Cannon School kicker Blake Brewer. Brewer, who has made has made a 52-yarder, has said also had interest from North Carolina, N.C. State, Tennessee and Virginia. Here's a story the Observer's Sergio Tovar wrote about Brewer in August.

-- If you're heading to the women's basketball game Saturday night against Kansas State, you'll see football coach Brad Lambert on the bench serving as an honorary assistant coach. Lambert was a defensive back at K-State in the 1980s. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unbeaten 49ers take down Texas State

The Charlotte 49ers improved to 4-0 with a 73-64 victory against Texas State in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout late Thursday/early Friday in Anchorage, Alaska.

The 49ers, off to their fastest start since 1995, will face Oral Roberts (3-1) at 1:30 a.m. Saturday in the semifinals. The other semifinal matches Belmont and Northeastern at 11 p.m. Friday. Consolation-round games have California-Riverside facing Alaska-Anchorage at 5 p.m. and Loyola Marymount facing Texas State at 7 p.m.

Charlotte allowed a 10-point second-half lead to evaporate against the Bobcats (2-2), before the 49ers went on an 11-0 run in the game's final 4 minutes, 19 seconds. Charlotte overcame 22 turnovers and a dismal night at the free-throw line (13 of 28) to win.

49ers point guard Pierria Henry had a dominant game, scoring 12 points, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds to go along with seven assists and three steals.

"Pierria had that look in his eye in warmups," said 49ers coach Alan Major. "I don't always know what that means, but tonight it was good.'

Center Chris Braswell led the 49ers with 18 points and eight rebounds; freshman guard Denzel Ingram had 11 points, making two-of-three 3 pointers.

"Basketball is a game of runs," said Henry. "They had theirs, we had ours. We just kept the faith and never got down. We stopped making simple mistakes."


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday news wrap-up

Plenty of news to report this Sunday afternoon:

-- The 49ers men's soccer team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament with a 1-0 loss at No. 3-seed Georgetown. Charlotte finishes at 15-4-3. The Hoyas scored right before halftime to advance to next week's third round.

The game was fairly even: both teams had eight shots, with Georgetown owning the advantage in corner kicks 5-4. Charlotte played a man down for the final 10 minutes when Aaron Weldon was sent off after his second yellow card for a hard tackle.

-- Charlotte freshman football player Prince Mayela was shot in an off-campus incident Saturday night. Mayela's wound was in the hip area and he will be OK. Mayela's former West Mecklenburg High teammate, Tashion Singleton, was also injured in the incident. Singleton, a defensive lineman, plays at Appalachian State now.

-- Sophomore men's basketball player E. Victor Nickerson sprained his ankle in Saturday's victory against Lamar. X-rays were negative. His status for next week's Great Alaska Shootout hasn't yet been determined.

Highlights from football scrimmage

Some highlights and stats from  Saturday's 49ers final football scrimmage of the fall (attended by nearly 2,500) in Charlotte's football stadium:
-- Five touchdowns were scored -- running back Alan Barnwell on runs of 4 and 1 yards; Austin Duke on a 6-yard reverse; and two TD passes from Karsten Miller (a 24-yarder to Darius Smalls and a 43-yarder to Ja'Quil Capel.
-- Barnwell ran for 116 yards on 16 carries, including a 47-yarder. That's an impressive 7.3 yards per carry.
-- Miller was 6-of-8 for 105 yards and the two TDs. Matt Johnson was 9-of-10 for 83 yards, while Lee McNeill was also 9-of-10 for 63. Capel caught five passes for 98 yards.
-- Nose guard Larry Ogunjobi led the defense with six tackles, while Desmond Cooper and Alex Petzke both had five. Nico Alcalde had 1.5 sacks and Ogunjobi and Brandon Banks each had one.

 -- Coach Brad Lambert's take:

“Barnwell’s a great runner – a great physical back. I feel like we’ve got some playmakers with Ja’quil, Will Thomas and Austin Duke. One thing that’s real exciting is that we have some playmakers out there and our offensive line is playing extremely hard.

“Our secondary has really down a nice job of hawking the ball. The last two, three scrimmages we’ve come out and turned the ball over and gotten the ball. We’ve got to take care of it on offense and got to force turnovers. That’s one big stat. We have some playmakers in all the right spots.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Observations from Lamar

Observations from Charlotte's 70-49 victory Saturday over Lamar:

-- The 21-point winning margin isn't the largest in coach Alan Major's two-plus seasons at Charlotte. What is? Answer below.

-- Ten 49ers played at least 10 minutes. It's hard to sort out what the best combinations are going to be right now, with DeMario Mayfield playing for the first time Saturday and so many freshmen  making a big difference. This much is obvious: freshmen forwards Darion Clark and Willie Clayton provide athleticism and energy -- not to mention basketball skills -- that this program has been lacking in recent seasons. And Denzel Ingram might have the outside shooting touch that hasn't been there.

Major's task is to fit those pieces together with a proven star in Chris Braswell, a solid point guard in Pierria Henry and another energy guy in Mayfield. And veteran J.T. Thompson is also going to be in the rotation. Terrence Williams looks like he'll be a reliable scorer in the 12-14 point range, although E. Victor Nickerson still seems to be forcing things offensively.

-- It also looks like redshirt freshman center Mike Thorne will soon be a very nice player. He's got a nice touch around the basket. Major is working him in gradually.

-- The good news: Freshman guard Denzel Ingram was 3 of 4 from 3-point range. The bad news: The rest of the team was zero for 13.

-- Here's Lamar coach Pat Knight's take on the 49ers:
"I don't want to put any pressure on him, but Braswell is an NBA caliber kid. If he keeps working and getting better, he brings so much to the table. They're so big. That Clayton kid, he can post up. They move the ball well and have good spacing. They pretty much have a motion offense going, so they don't run sets that are easy to guard, with guys going from point a to b to c. From a guarding standpoint, they were hard, the way they space and post you up. They're going to cause a lot of people problems. And I was impressed with their defense. They really get after you man to man."

-- Answer to above question: Davidson last season, 84-61.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

49ers women's basketball signs 5

The Charlotte 49ers' women's basketball program signed five players to national letters of intent Wednesday:

-- Tanisha Brown, 5-11, G, Myrtle Beach High: Averaged 13.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.9, apg, 2.6  blocks, 2.6 steals as a junior, despite a knee injury that sidelined her after January. Ranked by one publication as the No. 2 player in South Carolina.

-- Mylia Garner, 6-0, F, Jordan-Matthews High: Averaged 19.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.5 assists as a junior on team that went 31-0 and won N.C. 2A title. Was state tournament MVP.

-- Ciara Gregory, 5-7, G, Jeannette (Pa.) High: Averaged 27.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 steals, 4.8 assists as junior. Had a 50-point game that included a 50-footer made at the halftime buzzer.

-- Kenya Olley, 6-3, F, Spartanburg Dorman High: Averaged 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as a junior, and was an 80 percent free-throw shooter.

-- Danielle Webster, 5-8, G, Norfolk (Va.) Christian High: Averaged 19.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.7 steals, 4.4. assists as a junior and was all-state second team.

Observations from Georgia Southern

Observation's from the 49ers' 66-53 victory against Georgia Southern:

-- Coach Alan Major would love for his team to be defined by how it played against the Eagles. It was defense (limiting Georgia Southern to 34.8 percent shooting and forcing 12 turnovers) and rebounding (a 40-19 advantage, including 24-10 on the defensive boards) that won this game. The 49ers did a good job on Eagles star forward Eric Ferguson, who scored 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

-- Not as good, though, were the 49ers with the ball, turning it over 19 times. Georgia Southern pressed for most of the game, rattling the freshmen in particular (Denzel Ingram had four, Willie Clayton three and Darion Clark three).

-- Chris Braswell made his debut, not starting (after being suspended for the season opener Friday), but scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Major was just as happy with Braswell's defense (he had two steals and six defensive rebounds).

-- J.T. Thompson also played for the first time as a 49er, scoring four points to go along with two rebounds. Thompson hasn't played for two years -- missing his last two seasons at Virginia Tech with two separate knee surgeries. He was active on the offensive end, going 2-of-7. His return brought a large cheer from his teammates in the postgame locker room.

-- E. Victor Nickerson was also more aggressive than usual with the ball, going to the basket several times and finishing with seven points and four rebounds.

-- The 49ers were also 2-0 last season, then went to Lamar and lost by 18. That's Charlotte's next opponent on Saturday, this time at Halton Arena. Charlotte will be at full strength in that one, with suspended DeMario Mayfield back.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Familiar foe for 49ers in NCAA soccer tournament

The Charlotte 49ers drew a familiar opponent for the first round of the NCAA soccer tournament.
Charlotte (14-3-3) will face Alabama-Birmingham (10-7-2) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Transamerica Field in a rematch of the 49ers’ 3-1 victory against the Blazers in last season’s second-round game in Birmingham, Ala.

This will actually be the fourth time in three seasons the 49ers and Blazers have played. UAB beat Charlotte 2-1 in overtime in the 2010 regular season, while the 49ers and Blazers tied 1-1 earlier this season.

And next year, the two programs will see each other even more regularly when the 49ers move to Conference USA.

The 49ers-Blazers winner will play Sunday at Georgetown, the tournament’s No. 3 seed.

Admission for Thursday’s game is free for UNC Charlotte students. Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. and are $7 for adults, $3 for youth (17 and under) and $3 (per person) for groups of 10 or more. Group tickets must be purchased in advance by phone before noon Thursday. Information: or call 704-687-4949.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day-after observations from Charleston Southern victory

Observations from the Charlotte 49ers’ 68-58 season-opening men’s basketball victory Friday against Charleston Southern:

-- There was plenty of teeth-gnashing among 49ers fans when it was announced before the game that center Chris Braswell and guard DeMario Mayfield had been suspended for violating team rules (Mayfield will also miss Tuesday’s game against Georgia Southern). There was also a sense of déjà vu from two seasons ago, when coach Alan Major suspended two starters (Shamari Spears and An’Juan Wilderness) for the season opener and center Phil Jones for the season’s second game.

The difference here, of course, is that the 49ers lost to Gardner-Webb two seasons ago and they beat Charleston Southern on Friday.

Major has been consistent with his players in his now two-plus seasons in at least one area: Break a rule, pay the price. And I will never understand why a coach is criticized for that.

-- The 49ers’ 14-0 run in the first half against the Buccaneers was mostly about energy and enthusiasm from the team’s young players (with a 3-pointer by senior walk-on Colby Lewis thrown in for good measure). But just as impressive was how Charlotte managed a lead that reached as many as 18 points in the second half. Point guard Pierria Henry was key to that, playing a solid floor game (he had one turnover in the second half). Henry also defensively imposed his presence on the Bucs’ small backcourt of Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper with five steals (freshman Denzel Ingram also had four).

-- Freshmen forwards Willie Clayton (eight points, four rebounds) and Darion Clark (six and 11) are more athletic than some of Charlotte’s players in that spot in recent seasons. Clark, in particular, has a nose for the ball. He also showed some strong inside moves Friday. So did redshirt freshman center Mike Thorne, who helped plug the spot vacated by Braswell capably (four points, two rebounds in 15 minutes).

-- Sophomore Terrence Williams played a smart game, finding holes in Charleston Southern’s zone defense for a career-high 19 points. He also had 10 rebounds.

-- Major played Henry and Ingram together several times. Ingram, a scoring point guard in high school, handled the ball most of the time.

-- Braswell will be back Tuesday against Georgia Southern, as will senior J.T. Thompson (knees), who also didn’t play Friday. The Eagles game will start at 9 p.m. so it can be televised on the NBC Sports Network (which has time slots to fill because of the NHL lockout). It will be the second consecutive odd starting time for the 49ers. Friday’s game had a 6 p.m. tipoff, perhaps explaining why Halton Arena was less than half full (attendance was 4,429) for the season opener.


-- After Friday's 1-0 semifinals loss against Virginia Commonwealth, the 49ers will leave the Atlantic 10 without ever having won the league's men's soccer tournament.

Next up for the 49ers is the NCAA tournament. Bids will be announced Monday afternoon. The 49ers (14-3-3) probably have done enough to earn a seed and, with that, a first-round bye next Thursday. If that's the case, Charlotte would host a second-round game next Sunday (Nov. 17).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Charlotte 49ers' Braswell, Mayfield suspended

Charlotte 49ers starters Chris Braswell and DeMario Mayfield have been suspended for Friday's men's basketball season opener against Charleston Southern for violating team rules.

Braswell's suspension is for Friday's game; Mayfield will also miss next Tuesday's game against Georgia Southern.

Braswell, a senior center, is the team's leading returning scorer (15.8) and rebounder (7.6). Mayfield, a junior guard, averaged 11.2 points and 7.0 rebounds last season.

Forward J.T. Thompson (knee injury) will also miss the Charleston Southern game. He is expected to play against Georgia Southern.

It's the second time in coach Alan Major's three seasons at Charlotte that he has suspended players early in the season for violating team rules. Two seasons ago, he suspended then-leading scorer Shamari Spears and An'Juan Wilderness in Major's first game at Charlotte against Gardner-Webb and center Phil Jones for the following game.

Mayfield was also suspended last season for one game after he was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

49ers place 4 on all-conference soccer team

Charlotte dominated the Atlantic 10 all-conference teams announced Wednesday.

 Midfielders Donnie Smith and Tyler Gibson, defender Thomas Allen and goalkeeper Klay Davis were named to the first team, with striker Giuseppe Gentile on the second team.

Defender Biko Bradnock-Brennan was named to the all-rookie team and Gibson made the all-academic team.

Smith was the league’s midfielder of the year.

The top-seeded 49ers host the Atlantic 10 tournament this week and will face No. 8 Duquesne in a quarterfinals game at 8 p.m. Thursday at Transamerica Field.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Observations from 49ers football scrimmage

Observations from the 49ers football scrimmage Saturday at McColl-Richardson Field:

-- The scrimmage produced one touchdown and 415 total yards. There were 93 plays, coming from 15 possessions. Not that this means anything now, but Matt Johnson was the quarterback on the first series of plays.

-- The 49ers look to have some big-play capability on offense. Receivers Austin Duke and Jaquil Capel (who scored four touchdowns in last summer's East-West All-Star game in Greensboro) both had long gainers. Duke, an Independence High grad who caught six passes for 51 yards, also had a 58-yard run on an end-around. Capel caught five passes for 134 yards, one of them a 54-yarder from Karsten Miller.

-- The 49ers offense got into the red zone five times, but scored just once on a 1-yard run by Alan Barnwell. Coach Brad Lambert said not to read too much into that 20 percent scoring number from the red zone. They haven't practiced their red zone offense at all yet.

-- Charlotte's defense was led by nose guard Larry Ogunjobi (seven tackles, two for a loss), linebacker Mark Pettit (two sacks) and strong safety Kariym Grant (one interception).

--  Some individual stats:
Passing: Matt Johnson, 7-11, 93, 1 int.; Lee McNeill, 9-16, 69; Karsten Miller, 9-17, 91.
Rushing: Alan Barnwell, 20-75-1; Austin Duke, 1-58; Donjore Gainey, 10-33.
Receiving: Austin Duke 6-51; Jacquil Capel 5-134; Donjore Gainey 3-8.

-- The 49ers will obviously have to recruit more running backs, with Barnwell and Gainey the only players on the roster at that position. Lambert thinks Barnwell can be a really good college player and hoped he would have broken at least one big run Saturday. 

-- The game was worked by Conference USA officials. The 49ers also have the league's logo on the field, even though they don't join until 2015 (they'll be an FCS independent in 2013 and '14).

-- Several 49ers basketball players were on hand. Point guard Pierria Henry was an excellent football player in high school as a wide receiver and defensive back. At one time, he planned on going to Marshall to play football.

-- There was plenty of pre-scrimmage tailgating. A crowd of about 1,500 watched the scrimmage. The 49ers will have similar scrimmages in the stadium the next two Saturdays. The scrimmage on Nov. 17 will be Charlotte's final practice of the year until spring.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Football, soccer, women's basketball highlight full weekend

Charlotte’s football team goes on public display Saturday at 12:30 p.m. when the 49ers hold a practice and scrimmage at their new football stadium.

If you’re a fan going, here are a few things to look for:

-- Coach Brad Lambert says he will limit the scrimmage – which should begin around 1 p.m. after 30 minutes of drills – to 70 plays. With only two running backs on the roster – freshmen Alan Barnwell and Donjore Gainey – Lambert doesn’t want them to get overused.

-- The 49ers’ three quarterbacks – Matt Johnson, Karsten Miller and Lee McNeil – will operate a spread offense that will try and stretch the defense all over the field.

-- Watch the action in the trenches, especially between the first units. Offensively, that’s tackles Jamar Covington and Daniel Book, center Thomas LaBianca and guards Mason Sledge and Daniel Blitch. They’ll go against a defensive line that includes nose guards Larry Ogunjobi and Duke Mosby and end Brandon Banks.

-- Incidentally, the game will be officiated by a Conference USA crew. Coincidence?

-- Lambert said his team is excited about playing in front of a crowd, even if it is just a scrimmage. “I just hope some people show up,” he said.

-- There will be no concessions or restrooms available. The football scrimmage will be preceded by the Fall Stroll for Epilepsy fundraiser on the track at Transamerica Field, which begins at 11 a.m.

Soccer, women’s basketball, volleyball too

-- The 49ers men’s soccer team (12-2-3, 6-1-1) can clinch a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship with a victory against George Washington (5-12, 2-6) at 5 p.m. at Transamerica Field in their regular-season finale. The 11th-ranked 49ers are tied with Virginia Commonwealth for first place in the league; the Rams play Richmond on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

If the 49ers and VCU tie for first place, the Rams would receive the top seed in next week’s conference tournament at Transamerica Field by virtue of their 4-1 victory against Charlotte in October. The 49ers will play a quarterfinal game next Thursday at 8 p.m.

-- Charlotte’s women’s basketball team plays a preseason exhibition at 7 p.m. in Halton Arena against Johnson C. Smith. The 49ers, who return all five starters from last season’s WNIT team, open the regular season Nov. 10 at home against N.C. Central. The Golden Bulls have a new coach in Steve Joyner Jr.

-- The 49ers' wrap up their home volleyball season with matches Friday against Dayton at 7 p.m. and Sunday against Xavier at 1.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Observations from Pfeiffer

Observations from Charlotte's 95-51 preseason men's basketball exhibition victory against Pfeiffer on Thursday:

 -- Charlotte didn’t have senior forwards Chris Braswell and J.T. Thompson and junior guard DeMario Mayfield. Mayfield has a sprained ankle, while Braswell and Thompson were held out for precautionary reasons. Braswell broke his foot over the summer; Thompson had two knee surgeries in his final two years at Virginia Tech before transferring to Charlotte. They are all expected to play when the 49ers open the season Nov. 9 against Charleston Southern.

-- That meant the 49ers started three sophomores (point guard Pierria Henry and wings E. Victor Nickerson and Terrence Williams) and two freshmen (forwards Darion Clark and Willie Clayton). The best of the freshmen was the Clark, a rugged 6-foot-6 player who comes from the top-notch high school program Oak Hill (Va.) Academy. Clark scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds and seemed to be around the ball most of the game.

-- Outside shooting, or the lack thereof, has been an issue for Charlotte over the last two seasons. There wasn’t much evidence of that changing against Pfeiffer, although freshman guard Denzel Ingram made four of his five 3-point attempts. And the outside will open up more when Braswell returns.

-- Without Braswell and Thompson, 6-10 redshirt freshman Mike Thorne played 15 minutes. Thorne is a project, but his footwork looked good (if his hands still need some work). He showed a nice touch at the free-throw line, where was 10-of-12. He finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and had two blocked shots.

-- Who’s going to take up the slack as the No. 2 scorer with forward Javarris Barnett graduated? Could be Williams, who had 16 points on six-of-10 shooting.

-- Pfeiffer played all 17 players on its roster and was led by guard Tayron Gibson’s 13 points. The Falcons open their season Nov. 10 at home against Catawba.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Storm affects 49ers women's soccer team's travels

The Atlantic 10 women's soccer tournament at Rhode Island is going on as scheduled later this week despite Hurricane Sandy, but the 49ers had to readjust their travel plans to get there.

Coach John Cullen's team originally was scheduled to fly to Kingston, R.I., on Wednesday for its Thursday first-round game against La Salle. Not wanting to risk having the flight being canceled, the 49ers took a bus instead on Tuesday. They made it as far as Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday night and they spent the night there. They're completing the journey to Kingston on Wednesday, in time for their 11 a.m. game Thursday against the Explorers.

Stadium passes inspection; scrimmage set for Saturday

The Charlotte 49ers' football stadium passed inspection Wednesday and was officially turned over to the school.

That means the 49ers' football team will hold a scrimmage in the stadium Saturday beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember, concession stands and restrooms are not ready yet, so plan accordingly.

The 49ers will also practice in the stadium on Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Decision on football scrimmage due Wednesday

Word will come late Wednesday afternoon whether there will be a football scrimmage on Saturday in the 49ers’ new stadium.

The stadium is being inspected on Wednesday. If it passes, the scrimmage will be played. If not, it won’t.

Time for the scrimmage is tentatively set for 12:30 p.m. There will be no concessions or restrooms available, so plan accordingly.

Other notes

-- The 49ers women’s soccer team is pretty much limping into this week’s Atlantic 10 tournament at Rhode Island (which is still scheduled to be played despite Hurricane Sandy).

The eighth-seeded 49ers (10-7-2, 4-4-1) are 0-4-1 in their last five games and haven’t won since Oct. 12, when they beat Fordham 3-1. Charlotte’s next game was at La Salle, and it matched the last two unbeaten teams in the league. The Explorers won 2-1 and the 49ers haven’t been the same since, going scoreless in their last three games. They squeezed out the No. 8 seed for the eight-team tournament ahead of Richmond based on their 2-1 victory against the Spiders on Sept. 30.

But Charlotte gets a rematch with top-seeded La Salle (14-4-1, 8-0-1) in a first-round game at 11 a.m. Thursday. Other opening round games have No. 4 Butler facing No. 5 St. Bonaventure; No. 2 Dayton against No. 7 UMass and No. 3 VCU against No. 6 Saint Joseph’s.

-- Charlotte’s men’s soccer team can clinch a tie for the league’s regular-season title with a victory against George Washington on Saturday at Transamerica Field. The 11th-ranked 49ers (12-2-3, 6-1-1, 19 points) can win it outright if VCU (10-2-4, 6-1-1, 19) loses to Richmond. The Rams own the tiebreaker with Charlotte, by virtue of their 4-1 victory against the 49ers.

The league tournament, set for next week at Charlotte, figures to be extremely competitive with four teams – Charlotte, Saint Louis, VCU and Xavier – all being ranked nationally in various polls this season. Even Temple is a threat. The Owls (9-5-3, 5-1-2, 17) could win the regular season with a victory Saturday against Saint Joseph's and if Charlotte, VCU and Saint Louis lose their final games.

The 49ers, incidentally, will play their first-round game at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, no matter what they are seeded.

The following night (Friday, Nov. 9) figures to be a busy one at Charlotte. The soccer semifinals are at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and the men’s basketball team opens its season at 6 p.m. in Halton Arena against Charleston Southern.
      -- Four Charlotte golfers posted season-low rounds Monday in the first round of the Pacific       Invitational at Stockton, Calif. Play was delayed Tuesday due to fog on the course.

Junior Joe Toland (seven-under 65) was tied for the tournament lead, while junior Franco Castro (70), sophomore Raoul Menard (71) and freshman Thomas Rowland (75) also all had season lows. Charlotte’s 10-under 278 was also a team season low and tied the 49ers for fourth place behind co-leaders Kansas State and Pacific and third-place BYU.

-- The Green baseball team took two out of three from the White in the Green-White World Series over the weekend. Brad Elwood’s four RBIs (including a homer and triple) clinched the series for the Green on Sunday with a 7-4 victory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Charlotte 49ers' Mayfield out of exhibition

49ers junior guard DeMario Mayfield will miss Charlotte's exhibition Nov. 1 against Pfeiffer at Halton Arena with a high right-ankle sprain.

Mayfield sustained the injury in practice last week.

Mayfield, perhaps the team's most versatile player, averaged 11.2 points and 7.0 rebounds last season.

49ers picked to finish 3rd in women's basketball

The Charlotte 49ers were chosen to finish third in the Atlantic 10's preseason women's basketball poll Wednesday, while senior forward Jennifer Hailey was named to the first team all-conference and all-defensive teams.

The 49ers, 16-14 last season, have been to the postseason 10 consecutive seasons, including a first-round loss to Wake Forest last season in the WNIT. They return five starters -- including Hailey, forwards Gabby Tyler and Amanda Dowe, point guard Jai Forney and guard Hillary Sigmon, who made the league's all-rookie team last season. Charlotte, which opens its season Nov. 10 at Halton Arena against N.C. Central, received 206 points from the league's coaches, including one first-place vote.

Hailey led the league in rebounding and blocked shots last season, and is joined on the all-conference first team by Dayton guard Andrea Hoover, Duquesne forward Wumi Agunbiade, La Salle guard Brittany Wilson and Temple center Victoria Macaulay.

The rest of the all-defensive team: Duquesne guard Jocelyn Floyd, La Salle's Wilson, St. Bonaventure guard Alaina Walker and Temple's Macaulay.

Here's the preseason predicted order of finish.
1. Dayton
2. Richmond
3. Charlotte
4. Duquesne
5. Temple
6. Saint Joseph's
7. St. Bonaventure
8. George Washington
9. La Salle
10. Xavier
11. Fordham
12. Butler
13. Virginia Commonwealth
14. Saint Louis
15. Massachusetts
16. Rhode Island

-- The 49ers' baseball Green-White World Series is set for this weekend at Hayes Stadium with games at 3 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The rosters were announced earlier this week.
--  Charlotte's men's soccer team will be without sophomore midfielder Robby Thomas for the rest of the year. Thomas tore a knee ligament in practice two weeks ago and had surgery this week

Friday is a big night for the 49ers and the Atlantic 10. The 14th-ranked 49ers (10-2-3, 4-1-1) are tied for second place with VCU and play at first-place and  No. 13 Saint Louis (11-3, 5-1), while 11th-ranked Xavier (10-0-4, 3-0-2) is at VCU (8-2-4, 4-1-1).

Charlotte's Giuseppe Gentile is the league's player of the week. He had three goals and two assists in victories against Rhode Island and UMass last weekend. He's tied for the team lead with Jennings Rex with seven goals.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Football schedules: What we know

After the addition of Temple in 2015 and '16, here's an update on the 49ers' football schedules as we know them to date. Although the 2013 season is set, anything else beyond that is subject to change as Charlotte continues to shuffle dates to make its entry to Conference USA in 2015 fit.

Aug. 31, Campbell

Sept. 7, Chowan; 14, N.C. Central; 21, Bye; 28, at Presbyterian.

Oct. 5, Gardner-Webb; 12, UNC Pembroke; 19, Bye; 26, at Charleston Southern.

Nov. 2, at Coastal Carolina; 9, Wesley (Del.); 16, at Old Dominion; 23, at Morehead State.

2014 (subject to change)

Aug. 28, at Campbell.

Sept. 6, Johnson C. Smith; 13, at N.C. Central; 20, Bye; 27, Charleston Southern.

Oct. 4, at Gardner-Webb; 11, at The Citadel; 18, Bye; 25, Old Dominion.

Nov. 1, at Western Carolina; 8, Coastal Carolina; 15, Wesley (Del.); 22, Morehead State.

Other seasons' schedules (subject to change):

2015: at FBS Georgia State (Sept. 3)*; FCS Presbyterian (Sept. 12), FBS Temple (Oct. 3), plus eight CUSA games.

2016: at FBS Temple (Sept. 24), plus eight CUSA games.

2019: at FBS Virginia Tech (TBA), plus eight CUSA games.

*-Tentative, contract not yet signed.
Note: A home game against FCS Western Carolina after 2015 has yet to be scheduled.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

49ers add Temple to '15, '16 football schedules

The Charlotte 49ers have added Temple to their 2015 and '16 football schedules, the first two seasons Charlotte plays in Conference USA.

The 49ers and Owls will play Oct. 3, 2015 in Charlotte and Sept. 24, 2016 in Philadelphia.

The '15 game brings the 49ers up to the five FBS home games required by the NCAA (they'll also play four Conference USA home games). The 49ers also play at FBS Georgia State that season and have a home game against FCS Presbyterian (subject to change).

49ers ranked 12th in first men's soccer RPI

The Charlotte 49ers are ranked 12th in the first NCAA men's soccer RPI of the season.

Charlotte (8-2-3, 2-1-1 Atlantic 10) is the highest-ranked team from the Carolinas, ahead of No. 14 North Carolina (11-1-1) and No. 26 Wake Forest (8-2-4). The 49ers are one of three Atlantic 10 teams in the top 30 (along with No. 8 Saint Louis and No. 15 Xavier).

RPI goes a long way toward seeding in the NCAA tournament (which begins Nov. 15) and takes into account strength of schedule (including opponents'), and weighs performances at home and away.
 Charlotte is also ranked 18th in this week's Soccer America poll, 25th by the NSCAA and 18th by College Soccer News. Charlotte is ranked behind both North Carolina (3rd), Xavier (10th) and Saint Louis (16th) in the Soccer America rankings. Coastal Carolina (11-1-2), whose only loss was to Charlotte, is ranked 11th by Soccer America. The Chanticleers aren't in the RPI's top 30.

The 49ers play two Atlantic 10 games this weekend at Transamerica Field: Friday against UMass (4-6-2, 1-2) and Sunday against Rhode Island (2-7-3, 1-1-1).


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

49ers' 'Dig Pink' campaign wrapping up

The Charlotte 49ers' volleyball "Dig Pink" campaign culminates Thursday when the 49ers face Butler in an Atlantic 10 match at 7 p.m. at Halton Arena.

The 49ers have led the nation the past two seasons in donations for Dig Pink, a college volleyball effort to raise awareness about breast cancer. Charlotte raised $11,878 in 2011 and just over $10,000 the previous year.

The 49ers have already raised about $2,600 from donations and solicitations at Carolina Panthers tailgates and at the University Chick-Fil-A. The 49ers also had a "Jail and Bail" Wednesday, where campus "celebrities," including baseball coach Loren Hibbs, softball coach Aimee DeVos, men's soccer assistant Kyle Gookins and football assistant Napolean Sykes were held and asked to solicit donations for their release.

The 49ers men's soccer team will wear pink jerseys and raise money for breast cancer awareness during their match Oct. 19 against Massachusetts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

49ers' head uptown Wednesday

The Charlotte 49ers' Uptown Basketball Tip-Off is set for Wednesday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. near the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte.

Basketball coaches Alan Major and Cara Consuegra and selected 49ers players will be on hand, in addition to Norm the Niner, cheerleaders and the Gold Duster dancers.

Basketball Madness for the 49ers is Oct. 18 from 9-10:30 p.m. at Halton Arena, with Fan Day scheduled for Oct. 20 at 2 p.m., also at Halton.

Friday, October 5, 2012

49ers extend Cabbage through '16

The Charlotte 49ers have extended the contract of golf coach Ryan Cabbage through 2016, athletics director Judy Rose announced Friday.

Cabbage is in his second season with Charlotte and took the 49ers to the NCAA tournament in 2011 (Charlotte's eighth consecutive postseason appearance).

"I am very appreciative of the commitment shown to me by Judy Rose and (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Business) Darin Spease as we continue to build on the past successes of the golf program at Charlotte,” Cabbage said in a statement. “This has been a tremendous opportunity, my family and I really enjoy the city of Charlotte, and I am proud to come to work every day with the wonderful people of Charlotte athletics and our wonderful university.”

“When a coach steps up and meets the requirements that we have established for having a contract, no matter how long they have been employed by us, I want to reward those individuals,” said Rose. “Our golf program has continued to flourish under Ryan's leadership, both on the course and in the classroom. I am thrilled for Ryan and for our student athletes.”

Cabbage came to Charlotte from his alma mater of Auburn, where he was an assistant for 10 years with the men and two with the women.

--  49ers football coaches are headed to California this weekend to recruit junior college players. Coach Brad Lambert has said the program needs more experienced players to counter the large number of freshmen already on the roster. Charlotte, which has commitments from nine high school seniors this recruiting year, probably won't look to sign more than one more high school player.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Charlotte 49ers news, notes

-- Charlotte's 13th-ranked men's soccer team -- fresh off a nine-day break -- opens Atlantic 10 play Friday at league-newcomer Virginia Commonwealth (4-1-3), then heads to Richmond for a Sunday afternoon match.

The Atlantic 10 is having a solid year in men's soccer, with two other teams also ranked by Soccer America (unbeaten Xavier at 14, Saint Louis at 19th). It's not all good news, though: Richmond is discontinuing the sport after this season.

VCU opened the season without losing in its first six games, but has slowed a bit recently, losing to Virginia 1-0 and tying Northeastern 1-1. Richmond is 4-5. Charlotte hasn't played since beating Central Florida 2-1 in double overtime Sept. 26.

Charlotte's women, who opened their league season with two victories last weekend, play at George Washington on Saturday.

-- Charlotte freshman football player Justin Bolus, who recently had two stomach surgeries, has left school to recover and hopes to return in the spring. Bolus, an H-back who played in last year's Shrine Bowl, is from Folly Beach, S.C.

-- The 49ers' men's basketball team will play its preseason exhibition against Pfeiffer on Nov. 1 at Halton Arena. The regular season starts Nov. 9 against Charleston Southern.

-- Former 49ers basketball player Javarris Barnett is playing for the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders in the British Basketball league. Barnett scored 38 points in a recent exhibition on 8-of-14 shooting from 3-point range.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Charlotte freshman takes down Keselowski

CONCORD -- Brad Keselowski might be leading the points standings in NASCAR's Sprint for the Cup, but he was no match Tuesday for UNC Charlotte freshman Josh Bralley.

Bralley won a NASCAR video game tournament on Charlotte Motor Speedway's huge video screen Tuesday morning. His reward for winning? A chance to race Keselowski in the super-sized video game.

Keselowski chose to race as himself -- the No. 22 Dodge. Bralley, who is from Huntersville and actually races real Late Model cars at Hickory Speedway -- was Jeff Gordon.

Bralley dusted Keselowski on the big screen, finishing 19th in the eight-lap race, while Keselowski was 41st. The virtual Dale Earnhardt Jr. won.

Bralley's victory earned him a spot as an honorary crew member for Keselowski for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte on Oct. 13.

“I’m nervous (Bralley) will take over my car after beating me,” said Keselowski.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Charlotte 49ers open women's hoops practice

The Charlotte 49ers women's basketball team -- which should challenge for the Atlantic 10 title in its final season in the league -- opens preseason practice at 1 p.m. Monday.

The 49ers, who have made the postseason for 10 consecutive seasons, return all five starters from last season's team that went 16-14 and lost in the first round of the WNIT.

Charlotte will have one of the top frontcourts in the A-10, led by forwards Jennifer Hailey, Amanda Dowe and Gabby Tyler. Guard Hillary Sigmon is also back after making the league's all-rookie team last season, as is point guard Jai Forney

Charlotte plays a preseason exhibition against Johnson C. Smith on Nov. 3 at Halton Arena and opens the regular season Nov. 10 at home against N.C. Central.

-- The 49ers women's soccer team broke quickly out of the Atlantic 10 gate over the weekend, winning a pair of games at Transamerica Field. On Friday, Charlotte beat Virginia Commonwealth 2-1 in overtime, then blanked Richmond 2-0 Sunday.

The 49ers have allowed one goal in their past four games and continue to get strong attacking play from Amanda Jones and Carrie Dail, who both have five goals. Jones had both goals against VCU, while Dail scored against the Spiders.

The 49ers (8-3-1, 2-0 A-10) play at George Washington (4-6-1, 0-2) on Saturday.