The Long Beach State basketball season starts this week and on Saturday both men’s and women’s teams host a Homecoming doubleheader. The women will take on Westcliff at 1 p.m. before the men play San Diego at 3:30 p.m., and both head coaches are being realistic about expectations this season.
“We’re a work in progress,” LBSU men’s basketball coach Dan Monson said. “It’s been slow getting everyone on the same page. I’m afraid that will show early in the season, but I think this team is going to grow quickly.”
LBSU has 11 new players on the roster with three transfers and six incoming freshman. Only four other teams in the nation have more new faces, and the Beach is only bringing back 20.2 percent of its scoring from a year ago.
Returners Jordan Roberts, Drew Cobb and Colin Slater were all voted team captains by their teammates last month. Roberts is a 6’9″ junior who worked on expanding his game on the perimeter in the offseason. Cobb is the top defensive stopper and fellow junior Slater will be a key vocal leader at point guard. He sat out last year after transferring from Tulane.
“We have to lead with our actions no matter what’s going on on the outside,” Slater said. “I’m a firm believer that in order to lead, you have to follow. Every great leader is a servant first, so I didn’t have a problem taking a back seat because I wanted to support my guys. That’s my main thing. It just so happens that this year they want me to be a leader and be vocal. If they just wanted me to be quiet and play hard, I’d do that too.”
Monson said that transfers Michael Carter III, Trever Irish and Chance Hunter will be vital to the growth of this team.
“I see myself doing the little things,” Hunter said. “I do score but my team needs me to rebound and play defense. I feel like we’re a dog team. We’re all nitty gritty when it comes down to it we’re going to do what we need to do. We’re a tough group because we’re so close and we’re ready to go to war for each other.”
“Defensively we’re trying to use our length and pressure a little bit more and try to create some offense from our defense,” Monson said. “Offensively we’re trying to share the ball and not have a ‘go-to guy’ but ‘the open guy is the right guy’ mentality.”
LBSU got a balanced effort on Tuesday night but started its season with a 79-70 loss at California Baptist after the teams traded the lead 20 times.
Sophomore Jasmine Hardy’s 14-point effort led the Beach while junior Shanaijah Davison finished with 13 points. Sophomores Justina King and Kianna Hamilton-Fisher each added 12 points apiece.
Senior Cydnee Kinslow had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with seven points and two blocks. Sophomore Lauren Green also filled the stat box with nine points, nine rebounds, four blocks and a pair of assists.
LBSU struggled behind the 3-point line (13-for-20) and the free throw line (13-for-20) while CBU only missed three of its 21 free throws.
“We’re starting to get some productive reps in practice with the lineup we’re going to have this year,” LBSU coach Jeff Cammon said after his team suffered a few offseason injuries. “Unfortunately Naomi (Hunt) is going to be out this year, and of course that’s a bummer, but we’re excited for the challenge. A lot of people don’t have high hopes, but I think we’re going to surprise some people this year.”
LBSU (8-15, 5-6) dropped two of its three Big West games last week while sophomore Kashauna Williams averaged 4.92 kills per set and Carly Aigner-Swesey averaged 9.92 assists and 2.33 digs. Senior Hailey Harward tied her career-high with 27 digs in a five-set match against UC Davis to bring her week’s total to 54. She also became the fourth playing in school history to record over 1,500 career digs.
The Beach (4-12-1, 2-5-1) closed out its season with a 1-1 draw against Hawaii on Sunday. Sophomore Elysia Laramie gave LBSU the lead with a 42nd minute penalty kick. She scored five of her team-leading six goals during Big West play.
Men’s Water Polo
LBSU (14-11, 1-2) dropped a pair of close games to No. 3 Pacific and No. 8 Cal, but picked up wins over No. 9 UC San Diego and Long Beach City College.
Seniors Michael Simpson and Alyssa Allen were the top finishers for LBSU at the Big West Championship hosted by UC Riverside.
LBSU finished third out of 18 teams at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown last week while senior Maria Davis and sophomore Hunter Pate both finished in a tie for 11th overall.