An upbeat Long Beach State men’s basketball team flies to Honolulu feeling confident it can snap its four-game losing streak Thursday night at Hawaii.
“You worry about [the team’s energy during a losing streak],” head coach Dan Monson said. “But I’ve been pleased with our guys here.”
The 49ers (13-15) are trying to overcome their worst stretch of play since a six-game losing streak in December 2014. LBSU is gunning for season sweeps of Hawaii (18-11, 6-7) and Cal State Fullerton (9-18, 1-11).
After Tuesday’s morning practice, some of the 49ers spent extra time shooting free throws. Many lobbed jokes at one another from across the court as laughter filled the Walter Pyramid. Senior guard Tyler Lamb said it was important to remain positive during the team’s losing streak.
“If you don’t have [positivity] instilled in you as a person, then it’s going to be hard to bring it out at a time like this,” Lamb said. “With us being a team, I think even if we did have one or two guys weren’t positive, it wouldn’t really show because everybody’s glued in with the team.”
After Thursday’s loss to UC Davis, senior forward David Samuels said the team needed to change the way it reacted to losing.
“Lately, I feel like we’ve been taking it too personal,” Samuels said. “We’re not having fun anymore. We have to get back to having fun.”
Playing at Hawaii presents many challenges that do not involve the game. The travel, time change and potential distractions make facing the Rainbow Warriors more difficult. Monson said other factors make Hawaii a difficult environment.
“I don’t want to minimize this, but the selling of alcohol at their arena is so much different,” Monson said. “I always say those are the toughest arenas in America to play in. The Creighton’s and Hawaii’s. The places where they just take it up a level.”
Lamb said he was not too concerned about the atmosphere awaiting the 49ers in Honolulu.
“It’s not difficult,” Lamb said. “I think it’s just a mindset. It is hard to go in there and play because we’re playing against the whole island. That’s what we signed up for.”
Monson said Hawaii is a team built to frustrate its opponents, and that the game will be decided by whoever is tougher.
“They’re built to kind of punk you,” Monson said. “To see what [junior guard Roderick] Bobbitt was able to do to [UC Davis senior guard Corey] Hawkins was impressive. They’re going to disrupt Mike and the other guys are going to have to make plays.”
Lamb praised Bobbitt’s defense and his ability to create steals. Bobbitt leads the country in steals per game at 3.4. Lamb said the 49ers cannot have a repeat performance of the first game where the Rainbow Warriors forced 20 turnovers.
“Our focus with Hawaii is to not let them speed us up,” Lamb said. “Don’t turn the ball over. Play strong with the ball. We want to get in the open floor and get our [big men] to finish or get open shots for our guards.”
The 49ers host last-place Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. LBSU escaped with a narrow 91-86 overtime victory at Fullerton on Jan. 29. The Titans are on a five-game losing streak and are losers of 11 of their last 12 games.
LBSU travels to Hawaii for a Thursday night game at 9 p.m. before returning home to host Cal State Fullerton inside the Walter Pyramid at 4 p.m.