For the past eight years, the Charlotte 49er’s have been road warriors, tearing up their Conference-USA competition and heading to five NCAA tourneys along with two NIT seasons.

2004 was the height of Bobby Lutz’ career – an AP ranking of 17’th in the nation and a 7 seed in the NCAA tournament. It finally looked like UNC-Charlotte succeeded their dream of become of becoming yet another North Carolina basketball power-house.

Success was bliss, however, as the Charlotte 49er’s would win no more. In that year’s NCAA Tourney, Charlotte would lose a first-half 14 point lead against a vulnerable North Carolina State, only to lose by 14 points.

Despite the loss to NC State, the next pre-season brought Charlotte a New York Times “Sweet 16” pick and plenty of AP votes. However, just two weeks into the season, the now Atlantic-10 Conference Charlotte was called “The biggest disappointment in College Basketball” by FOX Sports – scoring a horrendous 9 points in a half against Mississppi State. Charlotte went on in the 2005-2006 season to lose many games by only a few points – including heart breaking losses to ACC foe Wake Forest on ABC Saturday television, and an arguably stolen double-overtime game at 3’rd ranked George Washington. Regardless, Charlotte surprisingly ended up a second-round NIT team.

This year, the Charlotte 49er’s are currently a dismal 8-9 and not winning games. How is this possible? Charlotte is one of the highest funded and talented teams in the Atlantic-10 with the “Gatorade Mississippi State Player of the Year” David Booker, top Ju-Co recruit Carlos Williams, Leemire Goldwire & EJ Drayton (both part of the 2004 super team), as well as All-America Candidate De’Angelo Alexander. Out of high school, De’Angelo Alexander was ranked higher than Duke’s JJ Reddick, and he went with Oklahoma to the “Elite 8” before transferring to then powerful Charlotte. Right now, De’Angelo is playing below expectations, and can’t make shots. What would cause such great talent to perform so low? Bad coaching.

I have a theory about Bobby Lutz’. When he came to Charlotte, Bobby Lutz’ was fantastic. Recruiting was, and still is, excellent. He took Charlotte to a whole new level, and won games. However, since, then, he hasn’t really learned anything. Bobby still coaches his way – the exact way he did 9 years ago when he was competitive. Since then, the sport of basketball has evolved and moved on, and Bobby Lutz hasn’t.

I realized this last year towards the end of the 2005-2006 season. In the last few seconds against St Louis, Charlotte lost at home by a successful last second inbounds alley-oop. “I have never seen a play like that before” Lutz’ later stated. But I have – many times in fact – just by watching various TV college games.

Lutz is now forced to try new coaching methods with his team. Even though his team’s style may look totally different (mainly disorganized), his signature 3 shooting still exists. If Lutz’ doesn’t learn anything new this season or next, he’s history.