Patrick Green

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The senior leaders

The three women’s basketball seniors. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Athletics

After barely missing the NIT last season, a group of three seniors look to lead a young 49er team to victory this season.

Having previously dominated with Spartanburg Methodist, a private, junior college, Jada Martin emerged as a walk-on last season. She was not just a regular walk-on, however, as she became the first player to walk-on under coach Cara Consuegra.

“It’s definitely an honor just for the simple fact it’s not easy being a walk-on at a D1 college just in general,” said Martin. “I mean, it take a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of hard work putting in being a walk-on. It’s definitely an honor being the first to walk on under Coach Consuegra.”

Next, forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers, the Clemson transfer. Last season was her very first with Charlotte, and she saw tremendous success, especially on defense where she earned the distinctive honor of being named to the All-Conference USA Defensive Team.

While the Niners will look to her defensive and scoring abilities for a lot of their success, number 15 will also look to serve as a veteran presence who the young players can learn from.

“I try to, you know, make myself available. I try to give good advice and things. You know that I’m old, I’m an old head. So, like you can come to me and say pretty much anything — been there done that — so you can always come and talk to me about it. And on the court, I always try to do what the coaches say. Like, we give reminders, showing people where to go, giving positive encouragement to make sure nobody gets down and it’s like ‘oh this is too much’,” Jamison-Myers said.

The last member of this senior group is guard Amaya Ransom, who has spent all four year of her collegiate career with the 49ers. Playing on this squad since 2014, she has the most experience as a member of this team. She has been invaluable in her commitment to mentoring and helping the new players. When asked about what individual accomplishment she looks to improve upon most, she immediately talked about being a leader to them with so much enthusiasm it was contagious.

Four years is a long time to grow alongside this women’s basketball program.While the hours of practices and games are significant to Ransom’s basketball career, the most imperative part is what this team has done for her on a personal level.

“The culture is not only preparing me for basketball but it’s also preparing me for life after basketball,” Ransom said. “Just how we go about things each and every day, I feel like it’s molded me into a better basketball player and a better person overall. So, I’m just very blessed to be rewarded this opportunity and making the most of it.”

Middle Tennessee pulls upset versus Charlotte

Charlotte lost against Middle Tennessee Sunday night. Photo by Chris Crews

The 49ers women’s volleyball team fell just short of winning an important conference game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders by a score of 3-2. Coming in, Charlotte appeared to be the heavy favorite to take the game but the Blue Raiders had other ideas, as they improved to 6-16 on the season and 2-6 in conference play. Meanwhile, the loss pushed the Niners to 17-6 with a 4-3 record versus Conference USA opponents. Even with the loss, they maintain the sixth spot in the C-USA standings.

The five-set game saw a lot of back and forth action between the two teams, with Charlotte winning the second (25-23) and third (25-18) sets but losing the first (25-22), fourth (25-20) and the fifth (19-17), which was ultimately the final blow. The last set was particularly suspenseful, considering how close it was and because it was to determine the victor.

It began with a 2-0 lead for Charlotte, and after that it was an incredible back and forward contest, with neither team ever trailing by more than two points. This alternating affair led to a 17-17 tie and both teams were hungry to get to the “magic” 19th point. Consecutive kills courtesy of Dora Peonia and Makila York, respectively, got the Blue Raiders to the coveted 19th point, completing the upset.

Middle Tennessee outplayed Charlotte in terms of kills (75 to 40) and hitting percentage (.199 to .163). The bright spot, however, was the fact the team representing green and gold had fewer errors (20 to 39) on the night. Janell Sparks and Tatyana Thomas both had impressive games, with each getting to double digits in kills. Further, Thomas’ .529 hitting percentage for the game is worthy of recognition as well.

The two-game road trip is officially completed and up next the Niners will host North Texas on October 22 at 1 p.m. The game will be a tough one, as North Texas has gone 19-2 this year.

 

 

49ers score decisive victory against Golden Panthers

Charlotte takes on FIU. Photo by Ben Coon

The Charlotte 49ers women’s volleyball team defeated the FIU Golden Panthers 3-0 on Friday night, advancing to 17-5 on the season as well as 4-2 in conference play. The decisive victory marked Charlotte’s second consecutive conference win, maintaining the sixth-best conference record in Conference USA. Their 17-5 record is the third best in C-USA, trailing only WKU (20-2) and North Texas (18-2).

The first set was relatively close, 25-23, until the very end when a kill by Sydney Rowan ended any hope FIU had of picking it up. Despite the narrow victory of the first set, the second one was even more suspenseful. Trailing 17-13, the Niners appeared they were destined to be tied 1-1, however, an astonishing 12-4 run saw them “cruise” to a 25-21 score to go up 2-0. Finally, a 25-19 victory in the third set propelled them to add another one in the win column.

The star of the night was Sydney Rowan, the Niners’ outside hitter, who attained the most kills on the team with 15. She also managed to put up an impressive .323 percent for the game. Fellow outside hitter, Janell Sparks, also got to double-digits with 10 kills.

Up next on the schedule, the 49ers head west to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-16, 1-6) Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. They are the only team with a worse Conference USA record than FIU.

 

Running game emerging as strength for Niners


Benny Lemay runs the ball against N.C. A&T. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

Halfway through the third quarter of Saturday’s game versus the Florida International Golden Panthers, the Charlotte football team appeared they were on there way to their first victory of the year, leading by a score of 29-14. Quarterback Hasaan Klugh was having his best game of the season, running for three touchdowns and throwing another, and running back Benny LeMay was continuing to turn heads with an absolute stellar performance. The elusive first win was so close it could nearly be tasted.

In fact, at one point ESPN’s Win Probability gave the Niners an 87.9 percent chance of winning, when they leaped out to an impressive 26-7 lead with 2:51 left in the second half. Probability was in the 49ers’ favor to prevail, until that number gradually got smaller and smaller, and Florida International mounted a jaw-dropping 30-29 comeback.

With the loss, Charlotte falls to 0-5 on the season and 0-1 in conference play. They have been outscored 172-74 by opponents, and have only one score in three of their five games this year.

It is safe to say this is not the start head coach Brad Lambert and his team desired to get off to. With all the frustration of the early performance, it is easy to dismiss the positives and focus on what can be done to improve. However, a light has been shining through the darkness for this squad and it was especially apparent against the Golden Panthers. If you blink you might miss it, but the 49ers have been running the ball extremely well this season.

Now, if we are going to talk about the efficiency of the Niner run game, we have to start with Benny LeMay. I mean, the guy has, quite frankly, been a beast. The 5’9″ sophomore generated his second 100-plus yard game of the season against Florida International, running for 178 yards on 22 carries, averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Putting it bluntly, those numbers are outright phenomenal. Contextualizing this, if LeMay were to average that per rush every game, he would be top ten in yards per carry among qualifiers in Division One football.

Insane, right?

Well, what if I were to tell you he is not that far off from the top ten in yards per carry on the season? Through five games, number 32 has ran for 450 yards on 68 attempts, good for a 6.6 average, which ranks 22nd in the league and 4th in Conference USA. Maybe “22nd in the league” does not sound too glamorous, but you have to consider there are 181 qualified rushers, putting him in the top 13 percent.

The statistic, yard per attempt, shows the true effectiveness of rusher or passer, hence, why I am talking about it so much. It tells us, if given the ball, how many yards a player is likely to attain on a respective play. Keeping in mind the game of football is all about gaining yards to get to the end zone and score points, the importance of this stat is highlighted.

Hasaan Klugh running the ball against A&T. Photo by Chris Crews

LeMay has been Charlotte’s best rusher, but he is not the only guy running well. Klugh is also doing damage to defenses with his legs. He ran for three rushing touchdowns against his conference-adversary on Saturday, giving him a total of five on the season, which is tied with UAB’s A.J Erdely for most among QB’s and is third among all rushers in C-USA.

Further, he leads C-USA quarterbacks in attempts (67), yards (297), and has the longest run of the season, with a 51-yarder. His 4.4 yards per attempt is also not too shabby.

Aaron McAllister (96 yards on 20 carries) has also added to the dynamic run game.

It has become evident there are players on this team who are experiencing great success with the ground game. But, putting it all together, how has this translated in terms of team statistics?

Among their 13 other C-USA foes, Charlotte is third in rushing yards, as a team, with 985, trailing only Florida International (1099) and North Texas (1078). In terms of the ever-so-important yards per attempt, they only drop one spot, placing fourth with a sterling 5.1 mark. They do, however, struggle in the touchdown department running the ball, only having accrued five, all of which were by Klugh.

All said, maybe a potential solution to Charlotte’s scoring struggles should be running the ball in the red zone more frequently? They clearly have had success rushing the ball, but do not have the touchdowns to reflect that. The players and coaches obviously know more about what does and does not work for them than myself, yet this running game has been very effective, and perhaps their strategy should shift to utilizing the ground game in more important situations.

The offensive line deserves credit, here, as well as the rushers, because they are the ones opening holes for them to run through. It has been a team effort which has led to their prosperity rushing the ball.

Offensively, the 49ers have struggled early on and there is no getting around that. With that said, these struggles have overshadowed a real bright spot for the team and it is time the effort of the rushers gets the credit they deserve. Blink if you must, but when you open your eyes, you might see LeMay running for first down after first down.