Author Topic: 1997-98 Season  (Read 5224 times)

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Mr. Bojangles

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on: November 30, 2011, 01:22:23 pm
I was looking through some of my old Niner collectibles recently and came across the 97-98 Sports Illustrated College Hoops preview.  Just wanted to share for those new to the program.
 
We were projected Sweet 16 and had a half page write up on our team.  We didn't realize how good we had it back then.
 

 
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1011463/index.htm

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(13) UNC Charlotte
Don't forget the 49ers when talking about tough teams on Tobacco Road 
 
During the upcoming season coach Melvin Watkins will occasionally march his 49ers out of sparkling, year-old Halton Arena and hold practice in Belk Gym, the 49ers' old home court, which is known as the Mine Shaft because of its damp air and poor lighting. Watkins, who has spent his entire working life employed at UNC Charlotte, doesn't want the players in his spiffed-up program to forget what things used to be like. "Teams used to beg us to turn on the lights in the old gym," says Watkins, "and we had to keep telling them, 'They're on, we swear.' "
 
When Watkins played for the 49ers from 1973-74 to 1976-77, they never lost a game in the Mine Shaft and, led by Cedric Maxwell, advanced to the '77 Final Four, where they lost to eventual national champion Marquette. A year later Watkins had his degree in economics and was hired as an assistant coach. He spent the next 18 years working under three coaches—and through numerous rebuilding efforts—until he was promoted before last season. He responded by guiding UNC Charlotte (22-9) to the Conference USA White Division title and a first-round upset of Georgetown in the NCAA tournament. "I guess I've seen this program come full circle," he says. "Maybe we've even gone around twice."
 
 


Mr. Bojangles

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Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 01:22:42 pm
 
Quote
Leading the way for the 49ers this season will be 6'9", 250-pound power forward DeMarco Johnson, who is the conference's top returning scorer, having averaged 18.8 points per game last season. Johnson, a Charlotte native whose family lives 10 minutes from campus, cut his body fat in half during the off-season while hugely increasing his upper-body strength. He's joined by senior point guard Sean Colson, who led the conference in assists last season and torched Georgetown for 24 points in the NCAAs. "We want to be a part of Tobacco Road with all the other great schools around here, like North Carolina and Duke," says Johnson. "If we keep winning, maybe we'll get a chance to join them. We've gotten noticed, and that's the hard part."
 
On Oct. 31 the team was hit with bad news when doctors discovered that 6'8" freshman forward Charles Hayward from Alexandria, La., the highest rated recruit ever signed by the 49ers, had leukemia. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and his future playing status is unclear.
 
Newcomers who will be counted on to help out in his absence are junior forward Kelvin Price, a transfer from Southwestern Louisiana who's now eligible to play, and junior Galen Young, a slashing swingman from Northwest Community College in Senatobia, Miss. Young may be the most spectacular of the additions, as he showed by winning UNC Charlotte's Midnight Madness slam-dunk contest with a jam that shook the rafters at Halton Arena.
 
At that moment it became clear what all the fuss is about southwest of Chapel Hill. It appears the 49ers put as much effort into building their team as they did in the construction of their arena.


Iron9er

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Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 01:29:11 pm
I miss that team  :(
 
As a Soph in college at that time, I just figured thats how it would always be.  Probably the most talented team we've had since our final 4 team.  Too bad Shaw played with an injury that entire year, and obviously the Charles Hayward tragedy. 
 
A lot to be proud of in our past.  Hope we can get back there.
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Anborn

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Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 01:30:22 pm
just so happened it was my freshman year.  those were fun times.  timed my education perfectly for the renaissance of clt basketball imo.


49erAlumnus

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Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 01:40:09 pm
I miss that team  :(
 
As a Soph in college at that time, I just figured thats how it would always be.  Probably the most talented team we've had since our final 4 team.  Too bad Shaw played with an injury that entire year, and obviously the Charles Hayward tragedy. 
 
A lot to be proud of in our past.  Hope we can get back there.

We really didn't have any idea how good we had it, did we? We were too busy thinking about how much more we wanted in the future. When will we make the Sweet 16? Can we get past that?
 
SI was telling people not to over look us on tobacco road? Really? No, really? I mean, REALLY? :sigh: I know it must be true, I was there. That did happen, didn't it?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 02:57:39 pm by 49erAlumnus »


Chisox17

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Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 01:50:25 pm
That team had talent, athleticism, toughness, and swagger.  That team would win 25 regular season games if it played this year's schedule.
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Savio

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Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 02:02:26 pm
just so happened it was my freshman year.  those were fun times.  timed my education perfectly for the renaissance of clt basketball imo.


likewise, my freshman year too.


Powerbait

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Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 02:18:31 pm
just so happened it was my freshman year.  those were fun times.  timed my education perfectly for the renaissance of clt basketball imo.


likewise, my freshman year too.

One of my friends went to your wedding, congrats!


Normmm

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Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 02:31:19 pm
I miss that team  :(
 
As a Soph in college at that time, I just figured thats how it would always be.  Probably the most talented team we've had since our final 4 team.  Too bad Shaw played with an injury that entire year, and obviously the Charles Hayward tragedy. 
 
A lot to be proud of in our past.  Hope we can get back there.

I mentioned in the Shout Box how seeing freshmen like Phil Jones and Thorne reminds me of Hayward.  In the sense that as big men they need a little time to develop.  But Hayward was already ready as a freshman.  He wasn't necessarily ready with a full arsenal of offense.  But he could run the floor, block shots and get rebounds with the best of them.  I really believe he had a possible Kenyon Martin type future ahead of him.  Very sad.

I think Normmm was probably right all along, we'll be really good next year.


NinerWupAss

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Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 02:56:05 pm
I cant decide how reading threads like this make me feel.  On one side it reminds me of better days and hopefully we can feel that way again on the other hand it reminds me how far we have fallen. 
Mahna Mahna


Savio

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Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 03:41:06 pm
just so happened it was my freshman year.  those were fun times.  timed my education perfectly for the renaissance of clt basketball imo.


likewise, my freshman year too.

One of my friends went to your wedding, congrats!


Thanks PB.  Who was your friend?  I'm assuming it was D&E.


cltniners

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Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 04:44:24 pm
clt says those were the salad days.


Powerbait

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Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 05:34:10 pm
just so happened it was my freshman year.  those were fun times.  timed my education perfectly for the renaissance of clt basketball imo.


likewise, my freshman year too.

One of my friends went to your wedding, congrats!


Thanks PB.  Who was your friend?  I'm assuming it was D&E.

I only know E, but yes.  We went to high school together.  I saw FB photos of Savio's wedding and went, wonder if it is the same one.

Sure enough, it was!


49er96

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Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 12:07:51 am
Shed a tear reading this.  First few years of season tix for me as an alum.  Driving to games was exciting.  Who could have predicted what happened?  Fallen like a rock.  Depressing.


NinerWupAss

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Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 09:45:10 am
Shed a tear reading this.  First few years of season tix for me as an alum.  Driving to games was exciting.  Who could have predicted what happened?  Fallen like a rock.  Depressing.

Very depressing - My first year with season tickets was 1996, the first year in Halton and to think that those last 90s teams really had us feeling like we were on the cusp of something special and big.  We had every opportunity to step up and keep the thing rolling by adding football when USF did and we failed epically. 
 
It was a heck of a run though and all we can hope is that one day we get back there.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 10:51:26 am by NinerWupAss »
Mahna Mahna


jcl49er

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Reply #15 on: December 01, 2011, 10:49:05 am
Depressing, more so than uplifting for me.  I enrolled in 1991 so I got to enjoy some great players/teams in person, as well as the season noted above as an early alum.  Seeing a couple games in the Mineshaft prior to enrolling was a great experience as well.

This thread reminds me of Tony Soprano saying "'Remember when' is the lowest form of conversation."  :(   There are times where I believe in my heart we'll get back to the "good ol' days" but then there are times where I feel like we already peaked as a basketball program.  I just try to enter each season with the hope that "this is the year" and accept that we cannot turn back the clock.
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N1NER

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Reply #16 on: December 01, 2011, 11:37:08 am
My junior year.  That team started off 3-5 too.  Ranked in the pre-season top 25, lost the 1st game at Miami and the 2nd game up at App St in their old gym.  I went up to that game and remember Dee Tolliver started at SG.  Went up to the GW game about a month later and watched DeMarco and Colson torch them for 30+ a piece only for us to lose that game too.  Turned our season around once conference play started and I went to Cincy for conference tourney.  Made the finals losing to Cincy.  Beat Illinois-Chicago in 1st round and should have beat Chapel Hill in 2nd round.
 
Fun times back in those days.  We played in the conference finals my sophomore (losing to Marquette), junior (losing to Cincy), and senior (beat Louisville) years.  I thought it was our birthright to play for the conference championship.  Won it in '01 too.


NinerWupAss

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Reply #17 on: December 01, 2011, 12:06:34 pm
My junior year.  That team started off 3-5 too.  Ranked in the pre-season top 25, lost the 1st game at Miami and the 2nd game up at App St in their old gym.  I went up to that game and remember Dee Tolliver started at SG.  Went up to the GW game about a month later and watched DeMarco and Colson torch them for 30+ a piece only for us to lose that game too.  Turned our season around once conference play started and I went to Cincy for conference tourney.  Made the finals losing to Cincy.  Beat Illinois-Chicago in 1st round and should have beat Chapel Hill in 2nd round.
 
Fun times back in those days.  We played in the conference finals my sophomore (losing to Marquette), junior (losing to Cincy), and senior (beat Louisville) years.  I thought it was our birthright to play for the conference championship.  Won it in '01 too.

Starting slow and finishing strong USED to be a hallmark of Niner teams.  Also helped that we played ina  conference that had enough cache that starting slow didnt ruin our tourny chances.
Mahna Mahna


Savio

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Reply #18 on: December 01, 2011, 01:31:21 pm
2nd game up at App St in their old gym.

I was there to at App St when they stunned us.  Their students rushed the court.  One made a fatal mistake of running into DeMarco, he shoved him off and the kid went backwards about 8 feet, got back up and proceeded to the middle of the court.



Nugget

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Reply #19 on: December 01, 2011, 01:38:09 pm
My junior year.  That team started off 3-5 too.  Ranked in the pre-season top 25, lost the 1st game at Miami and the 2nd game up at App St in their old gym.  I went up to that game and remember Dee Tolliver started at SG.  Went up to the GW game about a month later and watched DeMarco and Colson torch them for 30+ a piece only for us to lose that game too.  Turned our season around once conference play started and I went to Cincy for conference tourney.  Made the finals losing to Cincy.  Beat Illinois-Chicago in 1st round and should have beat Chapel Hill in 2nd round.
 
Fun times back in those days.  We played in the conference finals my sophomore (losing to Marquette), junior (losing to Cincy), and senior (beat Louisville) years.  I thought it was our birthright to play for the conference championship.  Won it in '01 too.
This was my first trip to see the Niners in the NCAAs.  Perhaps the best basketball weekend of my life.
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stonecoldken

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Reply #20 on: December 01, 2011, 11:21:31 pm
You know the CH game we had won in regulation, except it was 8 on 5.  (Yeah, I'm talking to you Refs.) Same for rematch in CH that fall '98.
 
Now, I don't think we could stay withing 35 of CH.
 
I used to get pissed at Melvin & Bobby when we'd lose in the 2nd Rd.  Oh to be back in the days when I thought we were to good to be bothered with 2nd Rd. riff-raff.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 11:23:44 pm by stonecoldken »
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jcl49er

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Reply #21 on: December 02, 2011, 09:40:28 am
You know the CH game we had won in regulation, except it was 8 on 5.  (Yeah, I'm talking to you Refs.) Same for rematch in CH that fall '98.
 
Now, I don't think we could stay withing 35 of CH.
 
I used to get pissed at Melvin & Bobby when we'd lose in the 2nd Rd.  Oh to be back in the days when I thought we were to good to be bothered with 2nd Rd. riff-raff.
Good point.   It's hard to stomach that our biggest gripe used to be not getting out of the first weekend of the Big Dance.  Oh how I'd love to be dealing with that hurdle again.
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cltniners

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Reply #22 on: December 02, 2011, 08:13:14 pm
clt remembers that year well. clt was a lowly freshman @ the missouri university of science and trechnolgy, but traveled to the app game with poochie's uncle.

later that year, clt also watched the charlotte-unc-ch tourney game while mountain climbing in the maldives.


 

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