Thursday, February 27, 2014

Observations from Charlotte 49ers' loss at ECU

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Observations from the 49ers 75-68 loss at East Carolina on Thursday:

-- One upshot of the 49ers' six-game losing streak: they're playing their way toward Tuesday in the five-day Conference USA tournament, and that wouldn't be a good thing for Charlotte. The 49ers (14-13, 5-9) have dropped into a four-way tie for 10th place with East Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Florida International (which isn't eligible for the tournament because of APR issues). The league's bottom six teams will play three first-round games on Tuesday, meaning that five games in five days would be necessary for any one of them to make Saturday's championship game. Only UTSA, Marshall and Rice are below the 49ers now.

-- Charlotte had already lost four games to conference teams with RPIs of 200 or lower (Tulane, Marshall, UTSA and Rice) coming into Thursday's game. East Carolina had an RPI of 195.

-- Charlotte had a 34-14 edge in points in the paint against the Pirates, but couldn't overcome ECU's 12-of-27 night from 3-point range. Pirates senior Akeem Richmond hit 8 of 14. He entered the game as the country's leader in 3-point attempts, second in 3s made and third in 3s made per game.

-- East Carolina led 21-2 early, but Charlotte outscored the Pirates 22-11 the rest of the half and 44-43 in the second half. The 49ers had eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game, but only eight the rest of the way.

-- This isn't the longest losing streak in coach Alan Major's four seasons. Charlotte lost the last eight games of the 2010-11 season, Major's first.

Monday, February 24, 2014

49ers get first football commitment for '15

-- The 49ers picked up their first football commitment for the 2015 class over the weekend: cornerback Jaire Alexander of Rocky River High. Alexander made a lot of things happen for Rocky River as a junior last season: he intercepted seven passes, had 14 passes defended and forced four fumbles.

On offense, Alexander caught 27 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a touchdown. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and was responsible for 1,272 yards.

Here's a story on Alexander and his Rocky River secondary teammates from last fall's Observer.

Spring practice begins March 11, with Charlotte's spring game scheduled for April 5.

-- The 49ers baseball team has added three games to its schedule after its season-opening weekend was canceled due to in playable field conditions from snow. Charlotte will play UNC Asheville at Hayes Stadium March 5 and 26 and play at Winthrop on April 9.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Observations from 49ers' loss to UAB

Observations from the 49ers' 64-62 loss to Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday:

-- This is what happens when things are going as badly as they are these days for the 49ers. In victories earlier this season against Michigan and North Texas, Pierria Henry made plays at the end of both games (dishing to Terrence Williams) to win them. This time, UAB's Chad Frazier made the steal and the 49ers were on their way to their fifth consecutive loss and seventh in nine games.

Throw that final play in with two missed dunks by the springy-legged Shawn Lester and an unforced turnover by Henry on a fast break (that potentially could have given the 49ers a lead with less than four minutes left), and you know that there's nothing physically or mentally that's working for Charlotte now.

Said coach Alan Major after the game:

“I believe in every single one of these guys. We’ve got the capability to bust through this deal. We’ve got to continue to squeeze.”

-- UAB's Frazier, who played at Concord's First Assembly Christian, grew up in Charlotte and was a teammate at West Mecklenburg High with the 49ers' Williams for a while. He said he was recruited by the 49ers, but wanted to play in college farther away from home.

-- More free throw problems: Charlotte was 8-of-15 (53.3 percent), just a few days after making 3 of 10 against Middle Tennessee. Willie Clayton missed all five his attempts and is under .500 for the season (49 percent). He's now under .500 for his career (48.7). The 49ers are shooting 65.6 percent as a team.

-- On a nice afternoon with baseball and softball games also being played on campus, the basketball game drew a crowd of 6,200, well above the season average of 5,048 entering the game.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Charlotte 49ers news, notes

A few 49ers notes:

-- The men's basketball alumni game is scheduled for 12:45 Saturday at Halton Arena before the UAB game. Among the former 49ers scheduled to play:

 Dan Bannister, Reggie Barnes, Ben Basinger, Robert Earl Blue, Jack Bolly, Todd Crowley, Norris Dae, Eric Duncan, Chris Dwiggins, Cass Ferguson, Harrison Finklea, Scott Fitzgibbons, Tremaine Gardiner, Butch Gilbert, Travis Gordon, B. Stanley Graham, Ray Gromlowicz, Richard Guffy, Gary Gummerson, Jon Heath, Roderick Howard, George Jackson, Jimmy James, Kay Kinch (wife of Chad Kinch), Kevin King, Phil Mattox, Matt Messina, Carroll Mizelle, Brad Mulkey, Jermain Parker, Sean Phaler, Lee Rose, Jonathan Shaw, Spencer Singleton,  Ron Stallings, Michael Stikeleather, David Taylor, Pat Taylor, Bershuan Thompson, George Walker, Mike Washington, Roy Wells, Lee Whitfield, Keith Williams, Irvin Williamson.

-- Former 49ers soccer midfielder Tyler Gibson, who wasn't taken in last month's Major League Soccer draft, says he's exploring possibilities in Europe and possibly the United Soccer Leagues. Also, Giuseppe Gentile, who left school early and signed with MLS' Chicago Fire, is at training camp with the team in Arizona.

-- The 49ers recently hired Nicole Miller as a volleyball assistant coach. Miller played at South Carolina and has been an assistant at Cincinnati, Houston and Ole Miss.

-- Charlotte's golf team opens its season this weekend at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship in Humble, Texas. The 49ers have been to the NCAA tournament nine straight seasons, but will face a tougher time of it this season in Conference USA.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Observations from 49ers' loss to Middle Tennessee

Observations from the 49ers' 71-49 loss to Middle Tennessee on Thursday:

-- There was little, if any evidence, that the 49ers (14-11, 5-7) are capable of turning this slide (which is now four losses in a row, six in eight games) around anytime soon -- and only four regular-season games remain. The turnovers came in bushels (20), many of them coming on passes that didn't need to be made or forced moves to the basket that resulted in traveling calls. Charlotte's free throw shooting was sub-par (30 percent), as was its 3-point field goal defense (allowing the Blue Raiders to make 50 percent).

-- Pierria Henry said earlier this week that sometimes the recent losing gets to him, and that seemed pretty apparent against the Blue Raiders. Henry had eight turnovers, which ties a season high for him, to go with nine points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

-- The smallish crowd of 4,108 was indicative of what the 49ers have been drawing this season at Halton, where they’re are averaging 5,048. That’s on track to be the lowest in the building's 17-year history.

Earlier this week, Major said the smaller crowds don't affect the team and was not something with which he was concerned.

"I don’t know about it," he said. "Unless they want me to go by the shopping malls and put handbills on windshields, I’m going to focus on our guys. That’s out of my league, out of my expertise."

-- This wasn't one of the weaker teams the 49ers have lost to this season. Middle Tennessee (20-7, 10-2) is an strong, experienced team with a terrific forward in Shawn Jones (who had 17 points) and capable point guard in Tweety Knight (seven assists, no turnovers).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Observations from Charlotte 49ers' loss at Southern Miss

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Observations from Charlotte's 81-64 loss Sunday at Southern Mississippi:

-- The 49ers have to hope that whatever comes over them on the road (where they're 1-5 in Conference USA) doesn't seep into their play when they come back to Halton Arena for a three-game home stand that begins Saturday against Marshall (it continues with games Middle Tennessee on Feb. 20 and UAB on Feb. 22).

Charlotte is 4-0 at home in league games and 9-2 overall.

"Just because we have our white (home) uniforms on, doesn't means things are going to work out your way," said coach Alan Major. "You have to earn that homecourt advanrage by playing hard and imposing your will. That's how you create a home-court advantage."

Due to their inability to get it done on the road (Charlotte has lost five straight away games), the 49ers have left themselves little room for error if they want a top-half finish in the regular season -- which is becoming about the best they can hope for.

-- Here's what point guard Pierria Henry said about Major's ejection late against Southern Miss:

"He was just trying to fight for us, like we fight for him. Frustration is hard to fight when you’re losing. But it was the passion, pride and love he has for us that came out. It could have been the wrong timing or good timing. We couldn’t bounce back from it.”

-- Henry also took the brunt of responsibility for Charlotte's 20 turnovers (he had five of them).

"I didn't take care of the ball very well and that helped them get easy transition points. I've got to figure out how to slow the game down, how to move the ball around and get everybody involved without turning the ball over. It starts with me. If my teammates see me throwing the ball away, it gets contagious."

-- The 49ers' lack of depth became a concern against the Golden Eagles when both front-court starters -- Mike Thorne and Willie Clayton -- fouled out. The 49ers have essentially a seven-man rotation -- plus freshman forward Marcus Bryan averaging about 12 minutes.

-- Southern Miss was just about everything it was advertised. as: an athletic team that disrupts on defense and then gets out on the break effectively. The crowd at Reed Green Arena was loud and supportive -- but nowhere close (4,393) to filling up the 8,095-seat building. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Report: 49ers' Tall candidate for WVU staff

Charlotte 49ers defensive coordinator Bruce Tall is a candidate to fill a vacancy on West Virginia's coaching staff, according to a report in the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail.

Tall, 53, was one of head coach Brad Lambert's first hires in 2011 when Charlotte announced it would start football in 2013.

Tall was safeties coach at West Virginia from 2003-07 and followed then-head coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan, where he coached the Wolverines defensive line from 2008-10. In addition to being Charlotte's coordinator, he's been in charge of the 49ers' defensive line.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Observations from Charlotte 49ers loss at Tulane

NEW ORLEANS -- Observations from Charlotte's 64-63 loss at Tulane:

-- Another road loss, Charlotte's fourth in a row since winning at UTEP in their league opener, and it snapped any momentum Charlotte (14-8, 5-4) had in winning two at home last week. Ben Cherry and coach Alan Major attribute the road woes to a lack of energy early, which might have been the case against Tulane, when Charlotte fell behind by 10 in the first half. But they had first-half leads against Rice and Louisiana Tech recently, but couldn't sustain them.

"I wish I had an answer," said coach Alan Major. "We've shown it at times. We had a pretty good week of practice. I can always tell our energy by our voices on defense. In the second half we had the voice and were much more active."

-- The 49ers got back into the game by playing a zone that the Green Wave struggled with. Charlotte had to play that way with Pierria Henry and Willie Clayton both in foul trouble in the second half.

-- It only gets tougher Sunday, when the 49ers play at Southern Miss, which rallied to beat Marshall on Friday. The Golden Eagles (20-3, 7-1) are tied for first place with UTEP.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Charlotte 49ers' recruiting wrapup

The 49ers signed 19 high school seniors Wednesday during national signing day A 20th, quarterback Brooks Barden, signed in January and is already enrolled in school, as are junior college transfers Nick Cook (linebacker), Branden Dozier (safety), H back Richard Murphy and defensive end Josh Manley, a transfer from Syracuse.

The breakdown: 12 offense (3 line, 5 receivers, 1 RB, 2 H backs, 1 QB); 10 defense (4 line, 1 LB, 5 DBs), 1 punter. Nine from North Carolina, including five from the Charlotte area.

Christian Asher, ATH, 6-1, 212, Woodberry Forest, Va.

 Chris Brown, OL, 6-4, 280, Vance

 Jean-Luc Cerza Lanaux, OL, 6-8, 280, Charlotte Christian

Cam Darley, DE, 6-3, 223, Manning, S.C.

Markevis Davis, DB/LB, 6-2, 180, Asheville

Nate Davis, OL, 6-3, 275, Ashburn, Va. Stone Bridge

Zach Duncan, DE, 6-3, 220, East Forsyth

Tyler Fain, DT, 6-3, 260, Chesapeake, Va.

 Juwan Foggie, WR, 6-0, 206, High Point Central

T.L. Ford, WR, 6-3, 180, Cartersville, Ga.

Arthur Hart, P, 6-2, 190, Grafton, Wis. (Model School, D.C.)

 Denzel Irvin, DB, 5-10, 165, Winter Garden, Fla.

 Workpeh Kofa, WR, 6-0, 194, Independence

Chris Montgomery, QB, 5-9, 158, Lawndale Burns

 Mark Quattlebaum, WR, 5-11, 170, Cartersville, Ga.

 Maetron Thomas, RB, 5-8, 172, Stockbridge, Ga.

 Najee Tucker, DB, 6-2, 200, West Rowan

 R.J. Tyler, TE, 6-4, 230, Wagener-Salley, S.C.

Tre'Shunn Wynn, DB-RB, 6-0, 170, Monroe

Charlotte 49ers' 2014 football schedule

The 49ers' 2014 11-game football schedule will be released later this afternoon. Here's a sneak peak:

Aug. 28, at Campbell

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

Oct. 4, at Gardner-Webb; 11, at The Citadel; 18, Bye; 25, James Madison.

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

All home games are at noon. Plans to install lights at Richardson Stadium in 2014 have been delayed until 2015 to coincide with Charlotte beginning play in Conference USA.

The 49ers went 3-5 against teams on the '14 season they played last season and will play Elon, J.C. Smith and the Citadel for the first time.

 It's another mix of teams from various NCAA classifications -- Wesley, Division III; Johnson C. Smith, Division II; Campbell, Morehead State, non-scholarship FCS; The Citadel, Southern Conference FCS; Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Big South FCS; Elon, James Madison, Colonial Athletic Association FCS; N.C. Central, Mid-Eastern Athletic FCS.

The 49ers' spring game is scheduled for April 5.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Charlotte 49ers to face Appalachian State in football in 2018, '19

The Charlotte 49ers will face Appalachian State in a two-game football series beginning in 2018, the schools announced Monday.

The 49ers will host the the Mountaineers on Sept. 8, 2018 at Richardson Stadium; the second game will be Sept. 7, 2019 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone.

“It’s a game that should be played and I’m glad that we were able to get it on our schedule,” said 49ers head football coach Brad Lambert in a statement.  “We’re excited about the opportunity to play a great program from right here in our region.  This will be fun for our fans and I’m sure they will be excited as well.”
               “Since Charlotte announced it was beginning a football program several years ago, it has been a priority to try to arrange a series that would be great for our student-athletes and fans,” said Appalachian State Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb. “Many thanks go to (Charlotte director of athletics) Judy Rose and (Charlotte) Coach (Brad) Lambert for their efforts in helping the series come to fruition. We hope that it is a series that will extend well past this initial two-year arrangement and become a showcase for FBS football in western North Carolina and beyond.”
               “It’s exciting to set up a series with Charlotte,” added Mountaineers head coach Scott Satterfield.  “The proximity of our campuses, the similarity of our schools and the familiarity that our student-athletes have with each other from the high-school level make it a natural rivalry. It will be a great series for both schools’ fans and for college football in North Carolina.”
“We are thrilled to make this announcement,” said 49ers Director of Athletics Judy Rose.  “Adding a series against an in-state opponent that has the tradition and history of Appalachian State is important to the continued growth of our program.  We can’t thank (Appalachian State A.D.) Charlie Cobb and coach (Scott) Satterfield enough.  We know our fans have been looking forward to this possibility and it’s a natural step as both programs transition into FBS play.”

By that time, both programs will both be the Football Bowl Subdivision; Charlotte joins Conference USA in 2015, Appalachian State goes to the Sun Belt this coming season.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Observations from Charlotte 49ers victory against FIU

Observations from Charlotte's 73-61 victory against Florida International:

-- As critical as Ben Cherry's shooting was Saturday and as the offensive outburst of Shawn Lester was against FAU on Thursday, defense was the key in Charlotte (14-7, 5-3) sweeping the two games on this home stand. The 49ers held the Panthers to 38.5 percent and FAU to 37.5. The 49ers will win plenty more games with that kind of defensive effort -- especially if the offense continues to play as consistently well as it has over the last two games.

Charlotte held FIU scoreless for more than 8 minutes during one stretch (late in the first half until early in the second half). That stretch ended with an FIU free throw and went on to nearly 10 minutes before the Panthers scored another field goal.

-- Cherry is now making 52% of his 3-point shots, which will certainly continue to lead Conference USA. He was 5 of 6 against the Panthers and made two in a row to open the second half.

-- The 49ers got a better game from center Mike Thorne, who scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds.

-- Pierria Henry is looking like the walking wounded. He had a bandage above his left eye (from recent minor surgery) and split open his finger Friday at practice, necessitating a wrap there. He still scored 10 points, had seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.

-- Cherry paid tribute to the late Lew Massey after the game, saying the 49ers wouldn't have the excellent facilities they have or enjoy the perks of playing for the 49ers without those teams of the 1970s that Massey played on. Cedric Maxwell, a teammate of Massey in town for his memorial service, spoke to the team before the game.

-- Charlotte takes a break from the Thursday-Saturday rotation of play next week so they can be play at Southern Mississippi in Conference USA's national CBS Sports Network game of the week Sunday. Charlotte opens the road trip Friday at Tulane.