The Charlotte 49ers basketball program has a lot of competition in this basketball crazed state. Not only are they in the hotbed of college basketball greatness known as Tobacco Road which includes Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest, but they also have the NBA in town to compete with. But they do have a nice history of winning basketball games in their own right.
The 49ers have played in 11 NCAA Tournaments, five time advancing to the Round of 32. Their first trip to the Big Dance was a memorable one as they advanced all the way to the Final Four in 1977. That was the year that Al McGuire took Marquette all the way for his only National Championship before retiring to the broadcast booth after the game. They won that title over the Tar Heels, but many might have forgotten that he had to get past two North Carolina teams in the Final Four. The 49ers played Marquette in the national semifinals that year. Their star player, Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell went on to star with the Boston Celtics where he helped them win the NBA Finals in 1981 as he was named the Finals MVP.
So Charlotte has a great college basketball legacy. They now play in Conference USA which has seen its share of NCAA Tournament success in its own right with schools such as Memphis and Louisville making great NCAA runs.
The Halton Arena opened in 1996 and holds over 9000 fans, so this is big time college basketball at its best. This year’s team is coached by NBA and ACC legend Mark Price, who will be trying to duplicate the coaching success of former point guards Bobby Hurley, Jason Kidd and Avery Johnson and shooting guard Steve Kerr.
Get out to the Halton Arena this season and enjoy a great basketball game. Cheer the Niners on as they try to get to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time and first time since 2005.
image courtesy of charlotte49ers.com