Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rose: February comments sufficient

Alan Major

Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose has declined an interview request with the Observer to talk about the 49ers’ recently concluded men’s basketball season.

A school spokesman said Rose has nothing further to say about the season beyond the comments she made to Observer columnist Tom Sorensen in February after a 59-56 loss to Marshall, the third defeat in what would become a six-game losing streak.

Here’s the portion of Sorensen’s column in which Rose was quoted:

“Rose doesn’t regret (coach Alan Major’s contract) extension. She says Major and his assistants are recruiting ‘the right kind of kids.’ She says the team has lost its focus; it’s not the team it was early this season. But she still believes in the players and the coaches.

“You haven’t lost faith in Major?

“ ‘No,’ Rose says after the game. ‘No. Absolutely not.’ ”

The 49ers, who had nonconference victories against Michigan and Kansas State, finished the season winning three of four games, bowing out of the Conference USA tournament’s quarterfinals. 

The 49ers were 17-14, their second consecutive winning season under Major, who has a four-year record of 61-63 at Charlotte.

Major received a three-year contract extension in 2013, keeping him at the school through 2017-18 at an annual salary of $465,000.

Attendance at Halton Arena averaged 5,111 this season, lowest in the building’s 18-year history. Charlotte's last NCAA tournament appearance was in 2005.

The 49ers had just one senior on this season’s team (guard Ben Cherry) and have a strong recruiting class (guards Keyshawn Woods and Torin Dorn) and talented transfers in guard Braxton Ogbueze and forward Bernard Sullivan coming in for the 2014-15 season.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Charlotte 49ers face old A-10 foe in WNIT

The Charlotte 49ers will face St. Bonaventure on Friday in a first-round Women's National Invitational Tournament. It is the 12th consecutive season Charlotte has made the postseason, 10 of them in the WNIT.

The 49ers (15-15) lost in the second round of the Conference USA tournament to Louisiana Tech last week. The Bonnies (23-10) fell to Fordham 73-34 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Observations from C-USA tournament

EL PASO, Texas -- Observations from the Conference USA tournament, in which the ninth-seed Charlotte 49ers men advanced Wednesday (beating No. 8 UAB 80-70), but the No. 6 women's team was eliminated (losing to No. 14 Louisiana Tech 64-55):

-- Men's coach Alan Major tried to spread out the minutes among the rotation (with nobody playing more than 29 minutes) to keep the legs as fresh as possible for Thursday's quarterfinal against top-seed Louisiana Tech (which had a double bye). Point guard Pierria Henry played just 25 minutes, nine fewer than his average. Although Henry was in foul trouble in the second half, he was rested a few times in the first half, when he played just nine minutes. Marcus Bryan (23 minutes) and Ben Cherry (27) played more than they usually do. They both responded, with Bryan scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, and Cherry scoring 10 on 2-of-6 3-point shooting and going 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.

-- UAB played without two starters, Rod Rucker and C.J. Washington. Washington has an injured shoulder, but Blazers coach Jerod Haase said that although Rucker had recovered from an undisclosed injury, he didn't play because of a team rule forbidding players to play if they don't practice the day before a game.

-- Scouting Louisiana Tech: Bulldogs guard Kenneth "Speedy" Smith averages 7.9 assists (second nationally). He needs three more assists to set C-USA's single-season record ... Charlotte's Henry is second in the league in assists (5.9) and steals (2.2), behind Smith in both categories ... Sophomore guard Alex Hamilton leads Louisiana Tech in scoring (14.5) .. The game might come down to rebounding -- the Bulldogs are second in the league (39.5) and Charlotte is third (38.3) ... The 49ers held UAB, the league's top rebounding team, to 37.

-- Charlotte's women had en epic 3-point shooting meltdown, missing all 18 of their attempts over the Lady Techsters' zone defense. Knowing they'd be facing a zone, coach Cara Consuegra said the 49ers worked on their shooting for three consecutive days entering the tournament. But to have sharpshooters like Hillary Sigmon, Lefty Webster and Ciara Gregory miss all their 3-pointers wasn't something anybody expected.

-- Charlotte is 15-15 and has an outside shot at landing a Women's NIT bid, which would mean a 12th consecutive postseason appearance.

-- The biggest story of the tournament has come from the women's side, where FIU senior guard Jerica Coley's 42 points in an 87-75 victory against East Carolina moved her from ninth place and into fifth place on the NCAA's all-time scoring list. These are the four legendary players she passed in one game: Southern Cal's Cheryl Miller, Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw, UConn's Maya Moore and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne. Coley has 3,054 career points and trails Drake's Lorri Bauman (3,115) for fourth.

-- UTEP's Haskins Center and Memorial Gym are located on Glory Road, named after the movie of the same name about the Miners' 1966 national championship. Then called Texas Western, the Miners were the first team with an all-black starting lineup to win a national title, beating Kentucky for the championship. The Miners played in Memorial Gym back then, with the larger Haskins Arena being constructed later and named for coach Don Haskins.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3 Charlotte 49ers football players suspended

Three Charlotte 49ers football players -- running back Alan Barnwell, linebacker Terry Caldwell and defensive back Kariym Gent -- have been suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules, coach Brad Lambert told the Observer on Wednesday.

The suspension of Barnwell, a sophomore from Burlington who was the team's second-leading rusher last season (636 yards), was undoubtedly related to his arrest in the offseason for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a revoked license.

Caldwell, a sophomore from Wilmington, had 55 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries last season. Gent, a sophomore from Grifton, played mostly on special teams.

Monday, March 10, 2014

49ers' Henry makes all-C-USA 3rd team

Charlotte 49ers junior point guard Pierria Henry has been named to the all-Conference USA third team. Henry leads the 49ers in scoring at 12.6 points per game and is second in the league in assists (6.0) and steals (2.1).
Pablo Bertone, Florida Atlantic, Sr., 6-2, 198, G, Arroyito, Argentina
Chad Frazier, UAB, Jr., 6-4, 190, G, Charlotte, N.C.
Shawn Jones, Middle Tennessee, Sr., 6-8, 236, F, Hialeah, Fla.
Kenneth "Speedy" Smith, Louisiana Tech, Jr., G, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Neil Watson, Southern Miss, Sr., 5-11, 170, G, Kansas City, Kan.
Vince Hunter, UTEP, Fr., 6-8, 200, F, Detroit, Mich.
Tymell Murphy, FIU, Sr., 6-5, 215, F, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Akeem Richmond, East Carolina, Sr., 6-0, 180, Sanford, N.C.
Julian Washburn, UTEP, Jr., 6-8, 210, F, Duncanville, Texas
James Woodard, Tulsa, So., 6-3, 183, G, Arcadia, Okla.
John Bohannon, UTEP, Sr., 6-11, 210, C, Lancaster, Texas
Kareem Canty, Marshall, Fr., 6-1, 180, G, Harlem, N.Y.
Michael Craig, Southern Miss, Sr., 6-5, 230, F, Phoenix, Ariz.
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech, So., G, Chipley, Fla.
PierriĆ” Henry, Charlotte, Jr., 6-4, 188, G, Charleston, W.Va.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leading-tackler Mattox dismissed from Charlotte 49ers football team

Defensive back Martay Mattox, who led the 49ers in tackles last season, has been dismissed from the football team for violating team rules, coach Brad Lambert told the Observer.

Mattox had 85 tackles (46 unassisted, 36 assisted) and two interceptions last season. He also returned 15 kickoffs for a 16.9-yard average and two punts for a minus 2.5-yard average.

Mattox came to Charlotte after playing one season at East Mississippi Community College. He began his college football career at South Carolina.

Observations from Charlotte 49ers' win at Marshall

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Observations from the 49ers' 74-70 victory at Marshall on Thursday:

-- If nothing else, the 49ers will be feeling better about themselves as they head to El Paso for next week's Conference USA tournament than they might have a week ago. Since then, Charlotte has ended a six-game losing streak by winning its final two regular-season games.

That's not to say that the effects of the losing streak -- or its causes -- are gone. The 49ers had 16 turnovers against Marshall, missed some free throws down the stretch that might have cost them the game and allowed the Thundering Herd 17 offensive rebounds (which Marshall converted into 23 points).

This against a Marshall team that finished 14th in the league.

But Charlotte also showed that if point guard Pierria Henry (26 points, 7 rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block) and big men Mike Thorne (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Willie Clayton (15, 10) are fully involved and on their games, the 49ers can compete with anybody in the league.

-- The ninth-seed 49ers (16-13, 7-9)  will play No. 8 UAB (18-12, 7-9) in the Conference USA tournament at 10:30 p.m. next Wednesday. The Blazers beat Charlotte 64-62 in Halton Arena in February. The winner gets top-seed Louisiana Tech on Thursday, also at 10:30 p.m.

-- The 49ers won just two road conference games, their opener at UTEP and Thursday at Marshall. Charlotte went 0-6 between those two games on the road.

-- Charlotte's Ben Cherry was named to the league's all-academic team Thursday.

-- The 49ers women's team plays a weather-makeup game Friday at UAB. Charlotte (14-14, 8-7) will be the sixth seed in the league tournament (also next week at UTEP) with a victory against the Blazers, or eighth with a loss.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Observations from 49ers' victory over ODU

Observations from the 49ers' 74-63 victory over Old Dominion on Sunday:

-- There's not much to be done that can save a season that was pretty much wrecked by the six-game losing streak the 49ers finally snapped Sunday, but how Charlotte played against ODU gave a pretty good indication of what might have been.

Charlotte's big men, Mike Thorne and Willie Clayton, dominated ODU's smaller front line. The 49ers turned the ball over "just" 12 times (3.5 fewer than what they'd been averaging in conference play). Their assists-turnover ratio was nearly 2:1 (21-12, far better than their league-worst -3.2 in conference games). Point guard Pierria Henry played a dominant floor game with 10 assists. The 49ers outrebounded the Monarchs 35-25.

"Mentally, it's good for us to know we're as good as we always believed we are," said coach Alan Major.

The 49ers can clinch a Tuesday "bye" in the C-USA tournament by beating Marshall in their regular-season-finale Thursday. They're tied for ninth with North Texas (with whom they own the tie-breaker) and FIU (which isn't eligible for the tournament).

-- One of Sunday's bright spots was the play of freshman forward Marcus Bryan, who scored 10 points (on 3-of-4 shooting) and had four rebounds and two assists. Bryan's mid-range jump shot has become one of Charlotte's more reliable offensive assets.

Remember, Bryan signed late last summer out of Raleigh Ravensroft, helping rescue the 49ers from what could have been a tough depth situation after E. Victor Nickerson and Darion Clark transferred unexpectedly. For the 49ers to get somebody who can contribute the way he has at such a late time can only be considered a bonus.

-- Senior guard Ben Cherry got a nice pre-game sendoff with a ceremony in which he was presented a framed No. 24 jersey.