Friday, November 13, 2009

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 --

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