Last week’s announcement of the Long Beach State basketball teams’ schedules brought mixed emotions from fourth year women’s head coach Jeff Cammon, who stressed that things are very much still in flux. Cammon said there are a number of problems to solve between now and the team’s first scheduled game in the Walter Pyramid against William Jessup on Dec. 7.
“We have a long way to go especially with how the numbers for the virus are looking,” he said. “But we’re excited, and the girls are really excited.”
In the first few hours after the schedule was announced, two of LBSU’s opponents backed out, with Santa Clara and Seattle U both saying they won’t be able to play this year. Cammon said both games will be rescheduled, but it underlines the larger challenges of putting together games that will require things to go smoothly at a time when most things are going anything but.
The loss of games also meant that LBSU is currently down to just two nonconference games–Williams Jessup and then a road game at USC on Dec. 22.
“We’re going to keep working towards the goal,” said Cammon. “Our team has been incredible, they’ve been so positive and resilient through the entire process, doing everything they’ve been asked to do. When we were practicing outside they weren’t faced by dealing with the air quality or by the wind blowing their shot two feet to the right. They just want to play.”
Like the Big West Conference’s men’s schedule, the LBSU women will play in back-to-back doubleheaders against their slate of conference schedule, which makes up 18 of the team’s 20 scheduled games. They’ll open at home Dec. 27-28 against UC Riverside, and host Cal State Fullerton in January, then host UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and Hawaii in February.
They’ll have road series in Bakersfield and at UC San Diego in January, then travel to Cal Poly in February and finish the regular season at UC Irvine March 5-6 before preparing for the Big West Tournament in Anaheim the following week.
Cammon and his staff are knocking on wood after each one of those sentences, as is the rest of the LBSU administration. A ton of effort has been put into getting to this point, with athletes being willing to quarantine and stay in a pod in order to keep bringing in negative test results, which are necessary for any step of the plan to work.
Those challenges remain significant. In addition to the two games the team is currently trying to reschedule, they also are down a Big West opponent as Cal State Northridge announced the week before the schedule release that so many players had opted out that they wouldn’t be able to field a team this year.
“It’s a year unlike anything else we’ve ever seen,” said Cammon. “I’m just proud of how our girls have approached everything and stayed positive and resilient through it all.”
The Beach finished 13-17 last year and 8-8 in conference; they were picked to finish sixth in the Big West Coaches Preseason Poll and will be led by preseason all-conference honoree Justina King and Naomi Hunt, a versatile forward returning from injury.