Thursday, January 31, 2013

QB Karsten Miller leaves school, will transfer

Quarterback Karsten Miller, one of the first players to verbally commit to Charlotte's new football program, has left school and plans to transfer, a source told the Observer.

Miller had been competing for the starting quarterback job with Matt Johnson, Lee McNeil and Kyle Hoffman during fall practice.

Miller, from North Davidson High, already had an offer from Charlotte in 2011 before he missed most of his senior season with a broken leg.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mayfield suspended indefinitely

Junior guard DeMario Mayfield, the Charlotte 49ers' leading scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for violating athletic department policy, athletics director Judy Rose and coach Alan Major said Wednesday.

It's the second time this season Mayfield has been suspended. He missed the first two games of the year, also for breaking team rules.
Mayfield will miss at least the next game for Charlotte (16-4, 4-2 Atlantic 10), Saturday at home against Massachusetts. That begins the most challenging stretch of the 49ers' Atlantic 10 season (followed by games at Temple, home against Virginia Commonwealth, at Saint Louis, at Butler and home against Temple). The 49ers are in a five-way tie for second in the A-10, but have lost two of their last three games.
“We are disappointed to make this announcement,” Rose said in a statement. “Our policies are in place for a reason and our student-athletes are expected to abide by them.”
Mayfield is averaging 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds and had just been put into the starting lineup.
Mayfield, a transfer from Georgia, also was suspended for one game last season after being arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, a charge that was later dropped.
“We are disappointed in the decisions that DeMario has made which has led to the suspension,” Major said in a statement. “We will stay the course and we will rally around each other.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To start Mayfield, or not?

DeMario Mayfield has broken into the Charlotte 49ers' starting lineup. Now coach Alan Major needs to figure out if he wants to keep him there.

It's not a question of whether Mayfield, a versatile junior guard, should be playing. He's been the 49ers' most effective offensive player for much of the season and averages 26.4 minutes per game (second on the team to point guard Pierria Henry). But until he got his first start last week against Xavier, Mayfield had done what all excellent sixth men do: bring energy and an ability to change the course of the game that's already a few minutes old.

That wasn't a factor against Xavier, a close game all the way that Charlotte won 63-57. But the 49ers might have fared better in a 82-54 loss against George Washington had Mayfield been able to come in and potentially provide a spark, rather than be part of a sluggish Charlotte start that quickly dissolved into a blowout defeat.

With the 49ers (16-4, 4-2) off all week before playing a home game Saturday against Massachusetts, Major said he'll keep thinking about whether Mayfield is more valuable as a starter or sixth man. Mayfield is now Charlotte's leading scorer at 11.7 points per game(14.3 in league play).

"It's tricky," said Major. "Sometimes you don’t want a guy feeling that if he starts the game that he's got to do it right away. It can be a little easier coming off the bench, when you know exactly what you’re going to do. Either way it's a positive and a good problem to have. We have to manage it the right way.

"We'll take a look at that and see if it warrants keeping him in there."

A factor in Major's decision is whom Mayfield is starting for. Freshman Denzel Ingram has been inconsistent (he started alongside Mayfield and Henry in the backcourt against Xavier and had 12 points, but was scoreless off the bench against GW). Sophomore Terrence Williams (benched against Xavier but back in the starting lineup against GW) continues to struggle with his shot (31.5 percent).

49ers notes

-- Forward Jennifer Hailey is the Atlantic 10's women's basketball player of the week. She's averaging 15.5 points (fourth in the A-10) and a league-leading 11.4 rebounds. Hailey is second on Charlotte's career blocks list (197); fourth in double-doubles (33), fourth in rebounds (930) and 13th in scoring (1,235)

-- The 49ers picked up a football commitment last week from defensive lineman Wolfgang Zacherl (6-4, 272 pounds) of Raleigh Broughton.

-- The 49ers started baseball practice on Saturday. Charlotte, which opens its season Feb. 15 against Delaware State in Hayes Stadium, will host the Atlantic 10 tournament in its final season in the league May 22-25.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Video: ECU player and former Niner Shamarr Bowden ejected for punches in loss to UTEP

Former Charotte 49ers basketball player Shamarr Bowden, now a senior at East Carolina, was ejected from Saturday's loss to UTEP for throwing two punches at the Miners' Konner Tucker.

East Carolina says it will decide if Bowden is disciplined further sometime Monday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

49ers' Smith drafted by Revolution

A newsy day around the 49ers' athletic department Thursday:
-- 49ers midfielder Donnie Smith was chosen by the New England with the 21st overall pick in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
Smith, last season's midfielder of the year in the Atlantic 10 and a three-time all-conference selection, was the second pick in the second round by the Revolution.
"Watching my name called was a surreal out-of-body experience,” Smith said in a statement. “This is something that I have dreamed about my entire life. Playing at Charlotte really prepared me for this opportunity to play at the next level.”

Smith, a former Charlotte Catholic star, scored four goals and had four assists last season. Smith scored game-winning goals against South Carolina, Richmond and Saint Louis.
-- Two 12-foot tall football statues will be installed at opposite ends of Charlotte's football stadium on Monday, Jan. 21. The statues are commissioned by Irwin Belk and sculpted by Jon Hair. They'll be at opposite ends of the stadium, outside the main entrance at the Rose Football Center and in front of Gate 3.
-- Two 49ers men's basketball games  -- at George Washington on Jan. 26 and at Butler on Feb. 13 -- will be televised by WJZY  (ch. 46).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Observations from Fordham victory

Observations from Charlotte's 74-68 victory against Fordham:

-- Depth and defense. That's been Charlotte's mantra all season and at no time was it more apparent than Wednesday.

The 49ers' bench -- led by DeMario Mayfield (18 points), J.T. Thompson (12) and Darion Clark (11), not only outscored Fordham's 44-16, but also outscored Charlotte's starters 44-30.

As Rams coach Tom Pecora put it: “They just throw fresh bodies at you. They’ve got that depth. They’re the real deal that way.”

And the defense. Charlotte entered the game 10th nationally (and leading the Atlantic 10) in field-goal percentage defense at 36.5%. The 49ers held Fordham to 37.3%, including 1 of 12 for star forward Chris Gaston.

-- The Atlantic 10 will honor men’s and women’s basketball legends from each of its 16 schools at the league’s basketball tournament in March. Charlotte’s legends will be Cedric Maxwell and Paula Bennett.

-- Chris Braswell had a tough first half, scoring five points on 2-of-7 shooting. He also missed two 3-pointers. Braswell has struggled since returning to the starting lineup, making 4-of-14 shots in two games previous to Wednesday. He finished with seven points on 3 of 10 shooting.
Among the missed shots were five jumpers, two from 3-point range. Coach Alan Major wasn't unhappy with Braswell's shot selection, saying they were OK since he was trying to get the 49ers going offensively. But Major also said that if the team is having trouble finding its offensive rhythm, then Braswell should "pick and choose more wisely."
-- 49ers guard Terrence Williams appeared to find his shooting form (or some of it) in the first half. Williams, who was in a 16-of-67 shooting slump over Charlotte’s previous nine games, was 4-of-8 and scored eight points. He also had three rebounds.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Observations from Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Observations from Charlotte's 58-50 victory against Rhode Island:
Coach Alan Major described Charlotte's defense against Rhode Island guard Xavier Munford (the Atlantic 10's second-leading scorer who had just eight points) and the 49ers' depth in the same way:
"It's a community service project," said Major, whose team held Rhode Island to 38.3 percent shooting -- the 12th time this season an opponent has shot less than 40 percent. “With (Munford), you can’t put one guy on him, because he’s too good."
DeMario Mayfield (17 points) and Willie Clayton (11 points, 13 rebounds) were the only 49ers in double figures (17 points). But Major spread playing time pretty evenly out among nine players, which helped wear down the Rams.
"With the depth, that’s the other half of the community service project," said Major. "One guy picks up the trash; the other cleans the pool. That’s our strength. We don’t rely on one or two guys to carry us the whole game.”
  -- Charlotte sophomore guard Terrence Williams continues to be mired in a shooting slump. Williams was 0 for 7 against Rhode Island, scoring two points from the free-throw line. Williams is shooting 23.8 percent (16 of 67) in Charlotte’s last nine games.

-- Point guard Pierria Henry’s 10 rebounds weren’t a season or career high for him. He had 11 in the season opener against Texas State. Henry, incidentally, appeared to catch an inadvertent elbow from teammate Willie Clayton in the first half and came away with a bloody nose.

-- It was a homecoming of sorts for 49ers assistant Desmond Oliver, who is also a former assistant at Rhode Island under former Rams coach Jim Baron.

-- Rhode Island figures to get better under first-year coach Dan Hurley. The Rams have four Division I transfers waiting in the wings – they actually sat on the bench Saturday – to play next season.

-- Charlotte’s 14 victories have surpassed last season’s 13 total victories.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Observations from La Salle game

Observations from the 49ers' 74-65 victory against La Salle on Wednesday:

-- Defense did it again for the 49ers, as they opened their Atlantic 10 season with a win. Charlotte (13-2, 1-0) held the Explorers to 32.5 percent shooting, better than their Atlantic 10-leading 36.8 percent entering the game. The 49ers also held down La Salle's 3-point shooters -- especially Ramon Galloway -- to a 4 of 29 night. Galloway, the league's leading scorer, had 23 on 7-of-29 shooting (3 of 14 from 3-point range). La Salle had entered the game ranked second in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point percentage (38.4)
-- Point guard Pierria Henry is getting more dangerous as an offensive threat as he drives the lane and puts up short, floating jumpers or finds his way free for a layup. But he also acknowledged after the game that he needs to work on his decision making in the face of pressure (he had six turnovers).
-- Charlotte’s J.T. Thompson and La Salle’s Tyrone Garland were teammates at Virginia Tech before they both transferred. They never actually played together because Thompson missed the 2010-11 and ’11-12 seasons with knee injuries.

-- The 49ers’ Terrence Williams has been mired in a shooting slump. But he makes up for it with hustle plays – he dove for a loose ball that a La Salle player seemed sure to get in the first half, turning the ball over to Charlotte.

-- Charlotte’s E. Victor Nickerson wore pinkish-orange shoes, not exactly in the 49ers’ color scheme.

-- The 49ers and Explorers had a common opponent in the nonconference season: Miami. The Hurricanes handled Charlotte 77-46 and beat La Salle 76-59 after leading by six points at halftime.
-- The 49ers' now 13-2 record still doesn't seem to have caught the fancy of the Charlotte area. A crowd of 5,754 (slightly higher than Charlotte's average of 5,584 entering the game and which included a strong student presence) watched Wednesday's game. Charlotte ranks sixth in home attendance in the Atlantic 10 (Dayton leads at 12,243).
-- The last time Charlotte was 13-2 was 1994-95. The 49ers went on to win the Metro Conference title in their final season in that league.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Clayton A-10's rookie of week

49ers freshman forward Willie Clayton, who had 16 rebounds and 16 points in a victory against UNC Asheville last Wednesday, was named the Atlantic 10's rookie of the week Monday.
Clayton is averaging 8.9 points and leads the 49ers with 7.3 rebounds per game. He's second in the league in field-goal percentage (61.3) and leads the league in offensive rebounding (3.6 per game).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Observations from UNC Asheville game

Observations from the 49ers' 71-63 overtime victory against UNC Asheville on Wednesday:

-- The game marked the first start of the season for 49ers senior center Chris Braswell, a preseason All-Atlantic 10 second-team pick, who was suspended for the season’s first game for breaking a team rule. As the 49ers got off to one of the fastest starts in program history, coach Alan Major elected to have Braswell come off the bench rather than disrupt what was an effective starting lineup.

Braswell, who had been averaging a team-leading 13.3 points, scored four Wednesday, making 1 of 6 shots and missing two 3-pointers.

-- 49ers senior forward J.T. Thompson, who had played in 12 games and averaged 15 minutes per game, didn’t play. Major said he wanted to give some minutes to freshman center Mike Thorne and that it wasn’t a bad idea to give Thompson’s knees (both of which have been operated on recently) a rest.
-- UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach on the 49ers: "We’ve played some good teams this season (a win against St. John’s and narrow losses against  N.C. State, Tennesee and Providence). None of them were as physical as Charlotte. They might have better teams than (Charlotte), but they didn’t play as hard or as tough, and we didn’t match that.”
-- Willie Clayton's 16 rebounds weren't a freshman record. Jarvis Lang had 17 against Coastal Carolina in 1991.

-- UNC Asheville guard Keith Hornsby is the son of musician Bruce Hornsby. The elder Hornsby played the national anthem on his piano when the Bulldogs opened their new arena in 2011 against North Carolina.

-- Braswell’s insertion into Charlotte’s starting lineup doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing will happen to junior guard DeMario Mayfield, who is second on the team behind Braswell in scoring. With Braswell starting, Mayfield now becomes a very effective sixth man.