Wednesday, July 30, 2014

49ers women's basketball home opener against N.C. State

The Charlotte 49ers' women's basketball nonconference schedule is highlighted by a home opener against N.C. State and a holiday tournament in Mexico.

Charlotte will face the Wolfpack on Nov. 18 in Halton Arena, four days after their season opener Nov. 14 at Liberty. The 49ers travel to Riviera  Maya, Mexico to play in the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge Nov. 27-29. They will face Montana, Wake Forest and Princeton in the event.

The schedule also features games at South Carolina (Dec. 4) and Utah (Dec. 29) and a home game against Davidson on Dec. 21.

The complete nonconference schedule (Conference USA will release the league schedule later):

Nov. 14, at Liberty; 21, N.C. State; 21, Elon; 27-29, at Triple Crown Cancun Challenge, Riviera Maya, Mexico) vs. Montana, Wake Forest, Princeton.

Dec. 4, at South Carolina; 7, Charleston Southern; 15, at Ball State; 18, Presbyterian; 21, Davidson; 29, at Utah.

Observations from Charlotte 49ers' opening football practice

Observations from the Charlotte 49ers' first preseason football practice Wednesday morning:

-- There was a decidedly different feel to the workout from last season's first practice, which opened the program's inaugural season. With more scholarship players on hand -- 74 this season as opposed to 63 in 2013 -- the players appeared to be bigger, faster and more in tune to what the coaching staff wants. Things were helped also by a nice, cool morning, with temperatures in the upper 60s.

-- Perhaps the best example of the new-look 49ers is right guard Daniel Blitch, who played last season at 320 pounds but has bulked up to 345. The increased weight appears all muscle. Whether that hinders his speed and quickness coming off the line, we'll see.

-- One open spot on the offense is at a receiver spot, where Mikel Hunter (now a grad assistant) played last season. Dmarjai Devine, who played sparingly last season, got several reps with the first team on Wednesday morning.

-- Running back Kalif Phillips has changed his number from 25 to 3. "I like the single digits," he said. Phillips, who led the 49ers with 716 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, said he's ready to be the No. 1 back this season after Alan Barnwell was thrown off the team last spring. Top candidates to be the No. 2 back are Damarrell Alexander and Donjore Gainey.

-- With Hunter graduated, the 49ers' return game will be overhauled. Coach Brad Lambert said punt-return candidates are Ardy Holmes, Austin Duke and Corey Nesmith. Trent Bostick and Alexander will get looks at kick returner.

-- Kevin Donnalley, who handles radio color commentary for the 49ers, has been hired as an intern on Charlotte's strength and conditioning staff. That's a high-level intern: Donnalley was an offensive lineman for 13 seasons in the NFL, including three for the the Carolina Panthers. He played in college at Davidson and North Carolina.

Monday, July 14, 2014

7-foot transferring from Auburn to Charlotte 49ers

Seven-footer Benas Griciunas, a member of Lithuania's U-20 national team, is transferring to Charlotte from Auburn, the 49ers are announcing this afternoon.

Griciunas will sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Griciunas averaged 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds for the Tigers last season. He played in 12 games and started one against Illinois. He had a season-high eight points against Jacksonville State and a season-high five rebounds against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Griciunas was a 3-star prospect coming out of Findlay (Nev.) Prep two years ago. He has 3-point range and made five-of-six from long-range in a high school all-star game.