Both Long Beach State men’s and women’s basketball seasons have been similarly frustrating while bringing new players into the fold. Both teams are hoping for a fresh start as Big West Conference play starts this week.
With a brand new starting lineup and added pressure, LBSU men’s basketball coach Dan Monson said his 5-11 team has been “humbled” after a disappointing nonconference stretch against a variety of competition.
“We thought we’d be better at this point,” Monson said after LBSU beat Division II opponent Cal State Los Angeles last weekend.
Monson pointed at the home losses to Pacific and Southern Utah as examples of low points during December, but added that he wouldn’t trade them for wins if his team can use those experiences to get better in the new year.
“One of the years Casper Ware was here, we played really well in the preseason with a couple of big wins,” he recalled. “We had momentum and guys thought, ‘Well, now we’re going to the Big West and now its going to be easy’ but we started 0-4.
“This team knows the grind now and they’ve been humbled. We came back from Costa Rica (this summer) and we were giddy. We really felt like we had a special team. We still might, but we’ve learned that we’ve got work to do. We know who we are, we don’t like who we are and we’re going to change that.”
Monson also said that the coachable attitude from his players during the win over CSULA will also be key to success in conference play that starts on Wednesday night at Cal State Northridge.
Sophomore guard Michael Carter III was visibly in high spirits last Saturday while scoring 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double performance. The transfer even called out to the bench early in the first half that he would get double-digit rebounds.
“It’s like anything and if it’s not fun you’re not going to want to do it,” said Carter III, who has looked frustrated at times during this bumpy and unpredictable season. The guard has a team-high 49 assists and is second on the team with 12.1 points per game.
“I wanted a change because it’s a new year,” Carter III said. “I wanted to get back to having fun. It’s serious, but at the end of the day its basketball and that’s what I love to do. Why would I let it mess with my emotions and make me sad? I’m out there playing. There’s a lot of people who aren’t.”
Carter III also said this group enjoys the style they’re playing recently.
“We like the way we’re playing and we like pushing the ball,” Carter III said. “We like being in the passing lanes. We like running.”
His fellow sophomore transfer Chance Hunter also posted his first double-double on Saturday, and has scored a team-high 13.6 points per game.
“We played with a lot of the same mistakes as last year but with a different mentality and toughness tonight,” Monson said on Saturday. “Colin Slater and Mike had great energy games and emotional attachment. If they do that every night, we can get a lot better.”
Slater said he relishes the opportunity to adjust on the fly in conference play.
“The lovely thing about basketball is that every day and every experience is different,” Slater said. “We just need to adapt and enjoy the good and bad parts and work together through it. Coach has been preaching that to us about playing for each other.”
LBSU women’s basketball (5-8) also has been struggling with chemistry on the floor with injuries and inconsistency. The Beach has been outscored by an average of 65-58 this season while only shooting 36.9 percent from the floor and allowing their opponents to shoot 42.6 percent. Both of those marks are second to last in the Big West.
However, coach Jeff Cammon and his team wants to continue running in the open floor and creating offense from its active defense. LBSU is the best in the Big West with 11 steals per game. The Beach is averaging 21 points off turnovers per game.
LBSU opens its conference season Thursday night at Walter Pyramid against Cal Poly.