Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Women's Hoops!

From all of us in the Charlotte 49ers Athletic Department to all of you, the faithful members of the Niner family, we wish you the very happiest Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy spending some quality time with your family and wish you safe travels this weekend.

If you are at the house and want to be entertained, give A.J. Mead a listen from the Bahamas as the 49ers women take on South Dakota State Thursday and either Indiana or Virginia on Friday.

Be safe out there and get some great shopping deals!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photo Blog: Trip to Bahamas

This is the high school we are playing at...'Feed the Spirit' is their slogan and it looks like the jaguar is smoking a tornado...guess he's eating the spirit!
This is the look courtside...actually this is where my radio booth will be setup. I've never called a game from the baseline, but hey first time for everything. As you can imagine, its a primitive setup. The one shotclock is located all the way on the sideline. Not sure how Kendria Holmes (our PG) is going to like that?

Just another view from our resort. Its a nice place. The casino is closed though! Yea don't ask. I was looking forward to pressing my luck, but they closed for a week! One week out of the year and they close down this week. How unlucky? Or maybe I'm lucky to be unlucky? Whatever, thats the view!

OK OK I can't take photo credit for this one. Our strength coach Matt Parvis caught this postcard-like image with his digital camera one night on our way to dinner.

Ahhh...crystal blue and it goes on forever....jealous yet?

Literally, I go down the elevator, take about 15 steps and I am standing right here...Apparently we have a little event planned with jetskis, banana boats and other fun water toys tomorrow...

They drive on the left side of the road...I braced myself on a few occasions thinking we were going to wreck. Takes some getting used to.

I haven't seen one of these courts since I was in elementary school...its like the old volleyball court we had at Charlotte for a year...small squares cross-hatched with each, its very bouncy and slick. I think they call it a 'sportcourt'?

The local 'Y' where our girls practiced after a loooooooong day of air travel

I dont know what relevance this has, but its our coaches and players unloading the equiptment van b4 practice.
Trying to get through customs...luckily everyone just breezed right through..first time I ever used my passport

Every wonder what a 4:30am bus trip from the loading dock of the SAC to the airport after just getting back from a game 4 hours previously looks like? Well, that's it. Such a lively bunch. I dont know who Mohit is talking to on the phone at this hour? I know for a fact our strength coach slept on the training room table that night.
Ok, get this...
We arrive at the gate just in time. Literally I stroll up to the terminal and we start boarding. Then we proceed to taxi around for a good 20minutes before the pilot comes over the loud speaker to inform us that our plane has a technical malfunction and we need to head back to the terminal. This is the scene once we unboard...bodies lying everywhere. Frustration with airports is taken to another level when they keep you from getting to a place like the Bahamas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anatomy of a Road Trip

Last week, I was told that the Charlotte women's volleyball team was going to take a bus ride up to the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships. Knowing that I would be traveling with them to the tournament, I went into a brief panic. I don't regularly travel with volleyball for budgetary reasons, but I do go with baseball in the spring when they play road games. I also know that men's soccer made it a bus trip last week to Rhode Island for their conference tournament. I know they had a huge sleeper bus, but that's a long way to ride. At least the travel party for volleyball is about 20 so we all get to stretch out in our own seats.

The reason I panicked was because a nine-plus hour bus ride means I'll have to fill lots of time. I went out and bought a game for my Playstation Portable and hit the library for a couple of novels. I also got a pocket Sudoku game to keep my interest. We play hearts on the bus with baseball, so I don't fuss with entertaining myself on the bus with baseball. I am not a fan of getting on my computer while on the bus as it wears my eyes out quickly, but I will if I have to write a post-game story and release it to the media.

Unlike the players, I cannot sleep on moving vehicles easily. Planes and cars aren't good for me for sleeping, but I found I can sleep on trains with ease. I also brought the "Would You Rather" game in case the players wanted to go with that. Coach Correll brought Bunco and another dice game. I remembered on my trip with volleyball to Clemson last month that we did play "Catch Phrase" on the vans on the way back, so I know this is a gaming group.

The first hour of the trip (we left right before 1 p.m.) was spent trying to rig the wireless internet hub to work. Several of the girls had papers to turn in and homework to do, so we have to enhance the antenna on the back of the unit to get it to transmit to the back of the bus for everyone to use. Once that was enabled, it was fairly quiet as many players were on computers until the sun started going down around 5 p.m.

I noticed that typing on a moving vehicle makes you tired, as many of the players slept on pillows and blankets for the better part of the afternoon after homework was done.

Of course the bus had TVs and a DVD player, so several movies accompanied us up to Ohio. We watched "Up," "John Tucker Must Die" and "Out Cold" for the trip up. We started out well, but the movies got progressively worse. To find out more about these movies, hit one of my Top 10 favorite Web sites, You should be able to tell by the casts which ones were good.

I passed between my PSP, the Sudoku and one of my novels. Stacy Hummer and assistant coach Casey Harris were buried in books for the majority of the trip. Team manager Colton Jacobs played Madden 07 on his laptop, while trainer Dan Jacobs (no relation) slept under his fleece blanky. Correll enjoyed the movies, as it appeared he was having nothing to do with reading a book.

We ended up stopping for dinner at the original Bob Evans near Point Pleasant, Ohio. All but two players had breakfast foods (lots of pancakes and one player has crepes), while the coaches and support staff had hearty meals (several salads, some turkey and chicken dishes).

I expect the trip back will be more game-oriented. This seemed more like a business trip on the way up since it appeared homework and the match ahead were on players' minds.

We pulled into the Dayton Marriott a little after 10 p.m. and went over our schedule for Thursday. Practice and a short trip to the Dayton Mall before more study time is on the docket before gameday Friday, which will take place at 5 p.m. against Xavier. Should Charlotte win that one, they would play host Dayton on Saturday at 5 p.m. Here's hoping for a good result for the girls in green. Stay tuned for the coverage at

--Ryan Rose
Media Relations Office

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Madness Capped Off With The Men’s Soccer Programs Return To the NCAAs

Fans of college basketball are familiar with the phrase “March Madness”. Well around the 49ers athletic department this month is November Madness. Charlotte hosted the A-10 Women’s Soccer Tournament the first weekend in November. The highly successful 49ers women’s soccer program reached their third straight A-10 Championship game. Then, the following weekend (November 13), the 49ers men’s basketball program defeated UNC Asheville in their regular-season home opener; while, the 49ers concluded their regular-season at home against Temple. The defending A-10 Champion 49ers women’s basketball team tips off their regular-season on the road at East Carolina last weekend as well.

While, the 49ers basketball programs continue to play non-conference games this month. This weekend, the 49ers volleyball team will attempt to claim their first A-10 Tournament title in Dayton.

This brings me to one of the most exciting events this month for the 49ers athletic department. Charlotte’s nationally-ranked men’s soccer team returns to the NCAA Tournament after a 12-year hiatus when they host UNC Wilmington in the first round, Thursday, November 19 at 7 pm.

Charlotte’s men’s soccer program made regular appearances in the NCAA Tournament in the 90’s with five appearances in a seven-year period from 1991-97. In 1996, Charlotte won three games and advanced to the College Cup. Charlotte’s NCAA Tournament game against UNC Wilmington this Thursday, will mark the 49ers first NCAA Tournament home game since the 49ers defeated Hartford, 3-0, to advance to the College Cup, December 8, 1996.

When the 49ers face UNC Wilmington in the NCAA Tournament, the game will remind long-time 49ers men’s soccer fans of Charlotte’s first NCAA Tournament team. UNC Wilmington is coached by 49ers men’s soccer standout Aidan Heaney, who had his jersey retired in 2002. Heaney, an All-Metro Conference and NSCAA All-South Region selection in 1991, was Metro Defensive Player of the Year that year. Heaney still holds the school record for single-season and career goals against average as well as single-season and career shutouts records.

Charlotte women’s soccer coach John Cullen has ties to both the Charlotte 49ers and UNC Wilmington teams. Cullen played for the 49ers on their first two NCAA Tournament teams in 1991 and 1992. Cullen was a teammate on the 1991 team with Heaney. Cullen gives his thoughts on the 49ers return to the NCAA Tournament and former teammate Heaney.

“It was great thrill and honor to represent the school on the national stage,” Cullen said. “As a former player those were great days. I am excited to see the program back on the elite level. Congratulations to the Jeremy Gunn and the rest of the coaching staff and the players for reaching the NCAA Tournament. I am also proud of a former teammate and friend Aidan Heaney for how well he has done at UNC Wilmington. As a former player it is exciting to see our program return to the national stage.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Photo Blog from Durham UPDATED

I couldn't muster up any photos of the big fella Shamari Spears except this one...hes no stranger to Cameron and hes acting like calm and collected

This looks to be a scene out of CSI: Miami. It's not. Thats where the Cameron Crazies will be standing all game long...they mark it with caution tape. What is that suppose to mean? Should I be scared for my life sitting courtside?
I hope the Niners turn this place into a crime scene, then sneak out the back and escape 700 miles away to NYC

One day I hope the RBC Bank vision inside Halton Arena says these exact two team names.

Going all green tonight...I likey...

Thats an early photo of Krzyzewski-ville (yea its spelled right, I googled it). Only a few die hards were gathered there at about 1:30pm. I've been told that the grassy area converts to 'tent' village for the Chapel Hill-Duke game. I guess Charlotte-Duke doesn't carry the same weight? At least in the student's minds.

Trying to drive and take a picture at the same time is quite challenging. Neverless, I was able to snag this one while going about 75mph down the interstate. It really has no relevance to the day but what photo blog is complete without a road sign.

I am special and got media parking. My car is parked at the very top of this section. I guess during the week they turn the concourse into a parking lot. Anyway, its a great view of the grounds crew getting it in tip top shape. I dont know who the Duke football team has this week, but they just got throttled by Georgia Tech.

It also got me thinking, how much would you pay for Charlotte tickets where you can drive your truck right on the concourse and tailgate before, during and after 49er football games? Think about it, I woudl buy the rights to that parking spot, be able to drive up on gameday, park it at the top of the 20 yard line and have a blast. I start the bidding at $10,000.

I walked into their team store. A lot of blue. I started to feel nauseous and left.

Yup that's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Every building on this campus seems to be made of stone. Much like Charlotte is with brick. Some folks call Cameron a basketball Cathedral. Well, it certainly looks like one from the outside.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Long Way From Charlotte - Men's Hoop at Durham

OK -- so Durham's Not A "Long" Way From Charlotte -- but we already had the graphic made.
From Sunday's Practice at Cameron for the NIT Season Tip-Off:

Neat to see the retired jerseys hanging above the hardwood: Mullins, Gminski, Dawkins, Laettner, Hurley, Hill, Battier … etc and NCAA Final Four banners for 1986, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92 and 94 – that’s a pretty good nine-year run. They say the place seats more than Halton – hard to believe. Must be the bleacher-style seating in the lower level that can pack them in.

Spoke with ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes, who is doing the Duke-Coastal Carolina game Monday night and then the 6:00 p.m. bracket championship game Tuesday. Nice to talk to him about a frontcourt that is four strong, emphasis on strong.

Coastal was practicing just before us. Their head coach, Cliff Ellis, first hired Lutz into the collegiate ranks. Lutz was a high school coach before Ellis hired him at Clemson, where he stayed for two seasons before heading on to Pfeiffer. Of course, the rafters here include Jeff Mullins, who first brought Lutz to Charlotte – bringing him on as an assistant coach in 1995. Other Duke ties include Kyle Church's Dad, Robbie, who stopped by for practice. Robbie started the 49ers women's soccer program and now coaches at Duke. His squad was just knocked out of the NCAA tourney this weekend.

As for the 49ers -- I know Derrio Green has yet to score his first point as a 49er – I just get the feeling that when he does – they will start coming in flurries. So many good things came out of the Asheville win – Jones double-double IN THE FIRST HALF, Bowden lighting it up, Dewey controlling the game down the stretch, the Niners going 16-of-16 from line to finish it off. But also nice to see Javarris Barnett hit a couple threes and RaShad Coleman grab six rebounds to go with his nine points.

While completing game notes, I investigated other top freshmen performances, in light of Bowden's 21 and Braswell's double-double. The last 49er freshman to score 20 in his debut: Rodney White (22 vs. Fordham). The most points scored in any game by a 49ers freshman: 33 by Charlotte-native Andre Davis who added a 32-point effort in the same season. He was the Metro Conference Freshman of the Year in 1992-93. Of note: Jarvis Lang put up a 30-point effort in his freshman season, here at Cameron Indoor, in the 49ers first-ever meeting with Duke. In Charlotte's second meeting, the next year, the 49ers came into Cameron ranked nationally with an 11-1 record that included wins over top 25 foes Alabama and DePaul in the Tournament of Champions played in Charlotte. Duke won, but Charlotte went on to a 23-9 season and an NCAA Tournament trip -- all without Lang, who was lost for the season after an injury in the first game of the year and didn't get a chance for his encore at Duke. How good could that team have been with senior Henry Williams and Lang making for a dangerous 1-2 combo.

Meanwhile Braswell owns one double-double in his young career. Former 49er studs Rodney White and Curtis Withers each had three double-doubles in their rookie seasons. Time will tell how Braswell's season/career pans out -- but he's starting off in good company.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Long Way From Charlotte: Women's Basketball Trip to ECU

When I was looking at higher institutions of learning in which to gain my degree East Carolina University was on my list. That is until I came on my visit.

It was my final school I looked at on my tour de’ Carolina. Schools included Charlotte, Coastal Carolina and UNC Wilmington.

I have two memories from my trip to Greenville, NC some six and a half years ago. One was the sheer size of the football stadium. The other was the sound the solid metal dorm door made when it shut behind me. I knew within a couple hours ECU was not right for me.

Now I’m back. This time as a graduate of Charlotte.

Basketball season has started. And I am grateful. This is my 3rd season traveling as the radio voice with the women’s basketball team. As a 23-year-old bachelor, traveling across the country is great for a number of reasons. Food is at the top of the list. Don’t get me wrong, I pride myself as being a solid cook, but my pantry and refrigerator is often barren. I’ve come to the realization when I travel with the team, I eat like a king.

Here is the food breakdown on a trip that won’t last more than 36 hours…

6:00pm- On the way to ECU, we stopped and ate at Texas Roadhouse (With a $16 per diem, you can get a lot of food)…

8:00pm-10:00pm- Snacks and the movie “Taken” on the bus the rest of the way…

9:00am- Next morning, get up, have breakfast style buffet awaiting in the lobby…

1:00pm- Lunch delivered from Panera (Roasted chicken panini, chips and water)

4:00pm- Pregame meal (BBQ chicken, salad, lasagna, fresh fruit)

7:00pm- Media meal (when we get to the arena they always have media food, usually pizza or sandwiches)

10:30pm- After the game we have food ordered to the bus, this trip from a local mom and pop establishment where I ordered chicken fingers, mac and cheese and coleslaw

11:00pm-3:00am- Snacks littered all over the bus

Yep, I am going to be about 350 pounds by the end of the season. This is just the first game.

I forgot my digital camera for this trip, but will try and remember it for all the others.

Friday's History Lesson: Niners Basketball

With the opening of the 2009-10 season of Charlotte basketball I think it would be nice to take a look back at some history of season openers for the 49ers over the past seasons. We will look back all the way to the first year of head coach Jeff Mullin, who is Charlotte’s second most winningest coach (182-142) behind a certain mustached coach.

Tonight’s opponent is UNC-Asheville a team that Charlotte has beaten in the last five meetings against and which the current coaching staff is undefeated against. It is fitting that Charlotte defeated UNC-Asheville in the season opener in 1985, 92-68, at home in Mullin’s first year, where we start our Niner basketball history lesson.

Following that victory, Charlotte fell to New Mexico (74-72) and then reeled off four straight victories in season tip-offs including Longwood, App. State and two over NC A&T. An opening loss to College of Charleston started the 91-92 season, but the 49ers responded in the next five years with opening victories including a 101-72 beatdown of Coastal Carolina before the Niners had their five-game winning streak stopped by Miami in 1997-98.

Over the next 11 seasons, Charlotte went 10-1 in season openers as Bobby Lutz led the 49ers to 199 victories in that time span. During the 11 season stretch, the 49ers defeated two-Atlantic 10 opponents (Fordham and St. Bonnie), Davidson, Long Beach State (twice) and in-state school High Point and UNC-Greensboro.

(Bobby Lutz is 10-1 in season openers at Charlotte)

So that brings Charlotte to an impressive 20-4 over the last 24 seasons, while playing against 21 different opponents. During that stretch Charlotte has outscored its opponents on average 80-67 (1912-1613, total scoring differential) with the largest margin of victory being 32.

One final note, Charlotte is 10-0 against in-state programs during the past 24 seasons with the closest game being a three-point victory over UNC-Wilmington in 1995, while the Niners largest victory was a 32-point victory over NC A&T in 1989.

So when Charlotte opens up its 43rd season of Niner basketball tonight make sure to remember the great teams and players of years past and hope that Charlotte’s history in season openers will continue into the present.

-- Patrick McCoy, Charlotte 49ers Media Relations --

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As one season ends, another begins...

I have some random thoughts for my blog entry for this Thursday... I'll start with a rare two-sport doubleheader. You don't see these much in college athletics, particularly at the same venue, but Niner fans have an even more unusual event, the last home event for one sport and the first regular-season contest for another event.

Friday, Volleyball hosts its last match of the season in Halton Arena at 5 p.m. against Temple. Following that contest, the men's basketball team has its regular season opener later that night against UNC Asheville. Last season, the volleyball team played in front of 1,679 people (a season high), which made the atmosphere very festive. The Niners actually used that crowd to rally and win over the favored Temple squad, who seemed a little overwhelmed by the noise that the loud and proud made to cheer them on. I, for one, enjoyed the atmosphere very much and the coaches mentioned it after the season and have mentioned it to me getting ready for the match this week.

If you come early, you'll get to sit nice and close. I don't know what they are going to do about seating for the men's game (I assume you'll need your tickets unless you are in the student section) but if you want a good seat for the hoops game, students, then this is a rally to get you in the doors a little early. First service will be at 5 p.m.

Other notes (that may only interest me)...

Every team (from year to year) has a different personality, no matter if there's only one or two players that are different from the previous year. This year's men's team is completely different from a year ago. Obviously, having guys back who are healthy makes a difference, but running into the guys in the hallway, there's a different feel and look to some of the same guys that are returning...

I don't look good in a mustache. I hope that Mustache Night works out well. I'm not sure how the Temple volleyball program would react to that...

I have gotten to travel to some college campuses around the Southeast for ESPN this fall to work some football games when volleyball is not playing. I really look forward to the day that this campus is that festive on Saturdays when football gets here. It's an atmosphere that makes you want to be there. And people have been really nice to me, a stranger on their campus (maybe it's because I'm wearing a suit). It should be a lot of fun...

We're taking a bus to Dayton for the conference tournament next week. This will be my third bus trip with a 49ers team to the state of Ohio in three years. Baseball bussed to Xavier in 2007 and then to the conference tournament in Dayton this past May. I'll have to head to the library to stock up on good reading material. One thing that has become a luxury is wireless Internet on the bus. I will probably contribute a trip blog from the bus next week (so you can share in my travel nuggets)...

With all of the rain we've seen on Saturdays this fall, it will be nice to get inside for a few months of hoops. I do not envy the men's soccer team having to play in the conference tournament in Rhode Island this weekend. (Rhode Island - outside - mid-November - yikes!)...

There are so many team members, managers, equipment people, coaches and others in the gym when men's basketball practices, I think we should call them Lutz's army (or playing with the sounds - Lutz' Troops) Someone make a t-shirt, just make sure they credit me on it somewhere (or give me a free one for the idea)...

I am of the opinion that you can tell a program's confidence in itself when you look at its schedule. Take a look at the basketball schedules this year...

Speaking of schedules, a lot of people bash Boise State football for their schedule. They say, "Play somebody!" Well guess what, the teams they are trying to play have to agree to the game too. No good team wants to take the chance of losing to them and shattering their players' confidence or having the coach get fired for the loss. It's a system where the haves can keep the have nots down by refusing to let them in to the party. Were it not for the automatic bids in basketball, it would be in a similar deal. Since the conferences control the TV contracts, no one who is in the position of power wants to share it with the rest of the folks...

I am very critical of announcers (being one myself, and I get criticized a lot too), but Matt Swierad is easy to listen to. I know die hard fans want a homer. I think homers reduce the class of the broadcast and Matt Swierad does not play the role of the homer (no pun intended for his work with the Knights). He's a great alternative when you can't be at the game...

--Ryan Rose
Media Relations Office

Monday, November 9, 2009

Long Way From Home...Basketball Road Blog Entries COMING SOON

If you haven't noticed, this blog gets updated pretty much everyday. Daily anecdotes from folks here in the media relations office get posted giving you a different viewpoint of Charlotte athletics.

The blog is still in its infancy. It has yet to fully catch on with Niner Nation. It's potential as a 49er information vehicle is still untested. Prior to its launch while trying to figure out what type of content would be showcased here, for me it always came back to..on the road entries.

I have had the luxury of traveling with the womens basketball team the past two seasons, doing games on the radio for Tom Whitestone has been traveling with the mens basketball team since before I was born, that's an exaggeration, but he's been the SID for quite a long time, and now with blogs like this one it becomes the perfect canvas for retelling stories from the road that Niner Nation needs to hear.
I can only speak for myself, but the past two seasons have been chalked full of fun, memorable times...

-Like when we got stuck in the Dayton airport for 9 hours because of fog, let me be sucked!

-Standing in line at Pats Cheesesteaks, trying to nail down exactly how to order...what is wiz with?

-Checking out the Basketball Hall of Fame after our game in UMASS.

-Late, late, late nights in Saint Louis. Love that city. Glad with have a home and home with them every year.
-Having a little kid, prolly like 7 years old, tell the entire dining room at breakfast one morning that this was the best orange juice he ever had and how he gave the cleaning lady a quarter because his bed was so comfortable the night before. Keep in mind, a quarter for a 7-year-old is like a $10 bill to a grown adult.

-Faced with the I get up in the morning (like 8ish) to go down in the hotel and eat breakfast or sleep for another couple hours and miss out on breakfast. Its a tough call sometimes and something I have seriously debated about on many occassions...

-Getting caught up on all the conspiracy theories around JFK's assassination while at a holiday tournament in Dallas.

-Sitting on pins and needles as we approach the hotel hoping they have complimentary internet...only to find out at the end of the season we could have just put it on our room bill and Charlotte would pick up the tab. I know it's tough economic times, but I need the internet in order to else could I blog?

Should have plenty more good times this year. Follow them all right here. Just look for the Long Way From Home Banner.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quest for a Three-Peat

The first game of any tournament can bring out chills, nerves and the ever-famous butterflies in the stomach feeling and for most teams the conference tournament is the last chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament and 110% will be given in order to ensure a tourney berth.

Since joining the Atlantic 10 conference prior to the 2005 season, the Charlotte women’s soccer team has won three regular season titles and two tournament crowns, both of which are tops in the league during that span. Tonight the women’s squad will try and continue their supremacy over their league opponents when they open up A-10 postseason play against Fordham at 5:30 p.m. at Transamerica Field.

Earlier in the season, Charlotte defeated the Rams 4-0 on the road behind a pair of goals from Whitney Weinraub, the A-10 Offensive Player of the Year (two years running), and Kirby Stenard. However, Fordham is ensured to be a different team than the one that suffered a 4-0 home loss and proved that by defeating UMASS Minutewomen 3-0 in the first round of the A-10 tournament last night.

The Rams thoroughly dominated UMASS outshooting the Minutewomen 27-7 and controlling the possession for the majority of the game. But this is the playoffs (Where Amazing Happens) and the 49ers have been dominant in their opening match of the A-10 tourney boasting a 3-1 record with the only loss coming in 2006 to the Rams.

So tonight’s game comes down to the No. 2 seed Charlotte, who missed out on their fourth consecutive regular season crown by a mere two points, and No. 3 seed Fordham, who won five of their final six conference games to make it to their fourth consecutive A-10 tournament and sixth overall. Charlotte holds the all-time series advantage at 4-1-1, but the teams are tied in the postseason with one win a piece.

Both teams have seen success in the conference postseason with Charlotte claiming the last two titles and Fordham making appearances in the 2006 and 2007 championship games. Of course, the 49ers defeated the Rams in the ’07 title game, behind A-10 tournament MVP, Hailey Beam who scored once and assisted on another goal to give Charlotte the automatic bid.

Charlotte’s two-time A-10 Tournament MVP could be the 49ers key to winning their third straight conference title as the senior midfielder has confessed to hate losing and being an extremely competitive person. This was quite evident after Beam led Charlotte to a duo of come-from-behind victories against George Washington and Saint Joseph’s.

Everyone knows that one player can’t win a game and so when Charlotte’s starting eleven steps onto the field tonight against their first foe of the 2009 postseason those chills and nerves and even butterflies will turn into nerves of steel as Charlotte goes after another postseason crown.

-- Patrick McCoy, 49ers Media Relations --

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My View From the Press Box

As I post the release of the 2010 Charlotte 49ers baseball schedule today, I'd like to add some views following the fall practice schedule.

Watching three of the Niner World Series games, one thing I noticed right away is that the coaching staff took notice of the lack of depth at the end of last season and bulked up the number of guys who can play multiple positions. When certain guys were injured, it caused problems fielding a complete team that was experienced at every defensive position. This fall, regulars were playing at different spots on the field to get valuable innings at different locations. If an infielder plays at second, third, or at shortstop, they plays the other two spots in that rotation. That's not an entirely new thing for Coach Hibbs and the staff to do, but there was some focus on moving guys around within games to be sure they got valuable time at spots in case of emergency or need.

I would not categorize Charlotte as a "power-hitting" team in my three seasons of covering the team, but they seemed to have more power in the line-up this go around. Power for the Niners has tended to come in pairs the last few years... McElroy and Taylor (with a slight nod to Kris Rochelle) in 2007, Taylor and Lyerly (with a smaller nod to an injured McElroy) in 2008 and Lyerly and Ryan Rivers (with assistance from Zane Williams) last season. I see three or four power hitters able to generate some numbers this season, with Rivers, Williams, Ross Steedley and possibilities from Justin Wilson or Zach Semenza or any of a few young players trying to crack the starting lineup.

The Niners won a the nation's ERA title in 1997. You can chase that for the rest of time and not reach a lofty goal such as that. The starting pitching went young in 2008 and made some improvements in 2009, though injuries took their toll in that department as well. The fall roster
had 18 pitchers on it, and it is apparent that Charlotte will not lack for pitching depth this coming season. Charlotte has some choices to make as to what the weekend rotation will look like. The early experiment last season was to have four starters and rotate them depending on when the next game took place, and that could be an option for the Niners in 2010. Or, Charlotte can settle on three for the weekend and have about 12 guys ready to pitch to a hitter or for an inning and keep fresh arms and keep forcing favorable matchups throughout a series. That should be a very interesting dynamic to the season.

Defensively, Charlotte will still show off its speed, which is what I consider a trademark of the program these days. All three outfielders (whomever they will be) will have wheels. My three would be Shane Brown in left, Cory Tilton in center and Justin Wilson in right (the three most experienced), but there are numerous options that the staff could employ depending on performance, matchups, situations, health or a combination of those.

And that's not even talking about the teams on the schedule for 2010. Click here to see the release and click here for the actual schedule. I'll save those thoughts for another blog.

--Ryan Rose
Media Relations Office

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Tournament Time

For the second time in three seasons, the Charlotte 49ers are hosting the Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Championship at Transamerica Field. The Championships begin with two quarterfinal games, Thursday, November 5 beginning at 5:30 pm. Then, the semifinals will be played on Friday, November 6 beginning at 5:30 pm. The A-10 Championship game is set for Sunday, November 8 at 1 pm.

With the A-10 Championships set to begin this week, here are some interesting notes about the 49ers women’s soccer program.

* Charlotte is attempting to become only the second team in A-10 history to capture three straight A-10 Tournament titles. Massachusetts captured three straight A-10 titles from 1993-95. Last season, Charlotte joined Dayton, Massachusetts and Saint Louis as the only four teams in league history to capture consecutive A-10 Championships.
* 49ers finished second in the A-10 standings in the regular-season to earn a first-round bye. Due to the first-round bye, the 49ers have made at least the semifinals of the conference tournament 13 times in the program’s 16-year history. Actually that number is 13 times in 15 Tournament appearances since in 1994, the 49ers inaugural women’s soccer season; Charlotte was not a member of a conference.
* Charlotte captured conference tournament titles in 1995, 1998, 2007 and 2008. The 49ers reached the finals of the 1999 Conference USA Tournament.
* Senior Hailey Beam was named A-10 Tournament MVP in each of the past two seasons. She is one of only two players in league history to be named A-10 Tournament MVP twice.
* Junior Whitney Weinraub was just named A-10 Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. She is the first player in league history to repeat as A-10 Offensive Player of the Year.
* Beam was just named A-10 Midfielder and Women’s Soccer Student-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season. Older sister former 49ers standout Lindsey Ozimek claimed both honors as a senior in 2007. So a member of the Beam family has been named A-10 Midfielder of the Year and Women’s Soccer Student-Athlete of the Year for three straight years.
* Junior Megan Minnix joined Beam and Weinraub as first-team All-Atlantic 10 selections. This marked the second consecutive season and the third time in school history that Charlotte has had three first-team all-league players in the same season.
* The 49ers are currently in the midst of a 27-game unbeaten streak against Atlantic 10 competition. The 49ers have not lost to an Atlantic 10 foe since the end of the 2007 regular-season. During that stretch, the 49ers are 25-0-2 against A-10 teams. Charlotte has gone 20-0-2 over the last two Atlantic 10 regular-seasons. They join Massachusetts as the only two teams in league history to post consecutive unbeaten A-10 seasons.
* First-year head coach John Cullen became the fourth straight 49ers women’s soccer coach to post double-figure wins in their first season with the 49ers. He has guided the 49ers to 15 wins which is the most wins by a first-year head coach in the program’s history.
* Charlotte’s 15 regular-season wins marked the 13th time in school history that the 49ers have reached double-figures in wins.
* The 49ers defense has recorded 13 shutouts this season which tied last season’s school-record.
* Charlotte’s senior class of Hailey Beam, Lauren Brown and Leah Zappone rank among the nation’s leaders in victories by a senior class. These three seniors have helped the 49ers win 62 games and claim three A-10 regular-season titles and two A-10 Tournament titles during their careers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ramblin' Man

Ramblings from my office above Hayward Memorial Practice Court.

Can't believe soccer season is winding down and all the home games are over -- save for the A-10 Women's Soccer Championship which starts up at Transamerica Field, Thursday. Not for nothing, but it is worth the price of admission to watch Whitney Weinraub play. Yes, the 49ers women's soccer team is extremely talented front to back --but the moves Weinraub puts on defenders on a daily basis is the 49ers version of Must See TV. Of course, this weekend, you could see Hailey Beam make history as the 49ers all-time goals scored leader -- and watch the women defend the A-10 title and vy for an NCAA berth.

Basketball is literally, right around the corner. At least tomorrow night it is. Turn the corner onto Mallard Creek Church road and head up to Wild Wing Cafe where the 49ers will host a Lutz LIVE! tip-off party at 7:00 p.m. The 49ers exhibition game is the following evening, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to talk with coach Lutz and radio voice Matt Swierad before the season gets underway -- and then head to Wild Wing Cafe every Thursday night (starting Nov. 12) to catch the Lutz LIVE! radio show in person.

Heard a good crowd turned out for Monday's Let Me Play luncheon. Golf guru Dana Rader was the keynote speaker and 49ers women's basketball star Aysha Jones shared her story of life as a student-athlete. The event attracts women from throughout the community in an effort to show them the importance that athletics can play in the development of young women. Several in the audience were athletes in their day -- and current players, like Jones, are shining examples of the great impact athletics can have. The event is part fundraiser, part friendraiser -- and part eyebrow raiser -- as the impact of athletics is illustrated for notable key community and corporate leaders.

Spent part of the afternoon taking photos of the golf team. Can't help but wonder where Corey Nagy will be next year -- but sure am glad we have another semester to enjoy his play. What Corey has done with and for the 49ers program is incredible. He has one more tourney this fall, then the whole spring season -- and then, who knows. As nice a guy and as hard a worker as he is, he deserves everything he gets.

Finally -- since I started with soccer, I'll end with soccer. The MLS playoffs are underway and yet again, former 49ers all-America Jon Busch has led his Chicago Fire into the tournament. They are playing New England in the first round, and have their backs against a wall after a 2-1 loss in game one. But if ever the 49ers had a player who could respond with his back to the wall, it's Busch -- who has risen above so much to excel in his field.

Fans -- see you at Halton Thursday night. The show is about to begin!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Everybody Needs A Good Closer Sometimes

So I have been watching the World Series with no emotional ties to a winner or a loser. Don't get me wrong, I hate the Yanks. I am an Orioles fan and ever since this moment our franchise has been cursed!

Damn Jeffery Maier. Damn him. So yea, GO PHILS!

But you need to appreciate the dynamic of Mariano Rivera. When 'Enter Sandman' (arguably the greatest sports hype song of all time) hits the loud speakers, the game is over. Journalists start writing the game story. Visiting fans begin to exit. The game is done before he makes a single pitch.

So who are some good 'closers' in Charlotte athletics? Thinking beyond literal translation...better yet who are some 'clutch' performers for Charlotte, people who when you see on the floor, field or court your confidence of pulling out the win is at an all-time high?

The list would include...

Erik Walker- The all time saves leader who left our lives too early is a no brainer on this list. The scene went something like this...Bottom 8th draws toa close, players shuffling about between innings, Lil Flip cues up, E-dub bounces out of the dugout, hat crooked, high socks, clean shaven, batter steps in, slider, slider, slider, game over, lets go home. He did it a program high 103 times.
Leemire Goldwire- He hit some big time shots. Especially in his senior season. This is most memorable by far...

A night I will not soon forget. Picassos was rocking! Amidst the craziness after the shot, for some reason I proceeded to pour my entire frosty beverage on Jesse Garber which was followed not by a fist in the face, but an embrace. He still hasn't gotten me back for that...maybe he forgot?

Emily Jeffery- If you haven't seen her pitch, do yourself a favor and get out to the softball field. You won't need to block out much time, her seven inning games usually only last about an hour. She pitches fast and throws even faster. Double-digit strikeouts 16 times last season and a sub 1.40ERA is legit. Everytime she steps in the circle I feel like we are going to win.

Bob Olesen- The guy doesn't need to do anything. When I see him on the track before a meet I know we are winning. I'm convinced whatever he touches turns to gold. Literally turns into gold medals because that's the only thing his men's and women's track and field teams do.