The Long Beach State men’s basketball team has had a tough road schedule, losing its fourth game in a row to San Diego Saturday. The 49ers 74-70 loss is the team’s third under five points. Long Beach (2-7) hasn’t found much success early on in the season, but showed signs of life against San Diego. Here are 3 takeaways from the loss against the Toreros.
1. No true point guard on the team
Senior guard Deishuan Booker did not participate in Wednesday’s game against USC after violating team rules, which have not been specified by the team. The team’s leading scorer rejoined the team for Saturday’s game, but lost his starting spot and only played 15 minutes. It looks like head coach Dan Monson likes what he sees with sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni and redshirt senior Bryan Alberts in the backcourt. Maxhuni finished the game with 19 points, but only one assist. Booker and Maxhuni are natural scoring guards, but if the team wants to succeed they will have to adjust their game and become playmakers.
2. Yussuf heating up
Redshirt senior center Temidayo Yussuf has played well and proved to be a force against the Toreros. He put up a career-high 28 points and added six rebounds. As soon as he can start grabbing a few more boards, he could be one of the best undersized bigs in the Big West. Senior center Mason Riggins has proven to be a lot more mobile than Yussuf, but Riggins’ 20 percent free throw shooting has kept his minutes limited. Yussuf deserves more looks because of how well he has played, and as long as he can limit his turnovers he should begin to average double-digit numbers.
3. Preparing for Big West play
While a 2-7 record isn’t anything to brag about, Long Beach has played against teams way above its talent level. Losses against UCLA, USC and San Diego were all competitive which is a good sign heading into conference play. This team isn’t as bad as it is on paper, it just hasn’t been able to close games out. With seven non-conference games left in the regular season, the team has to make an effort to finish closing close games. The 49ers don’t have that guy yet, and players like Booker or Yussuf are going to have to step up to take on that role.
Long Beach plays 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Walter Pyramid against Southern Utah.