Long Beach State is in a rut right now that even a friendly wiffle ball game can’t fix. The team is coming off a crucial game against Cal Poly Saturday that saw the 49ers come out victorious for the first time in six games. The problem is that the 49ers barely survived the Mustangs, the weakest team in the Big West conference in an overtime 76-68 win.
This was a game that Long Beach needed to blowout in order to get some confidence back before heading into a difficult stretch of the season. Instead, the 49ers played down to their opponent’s level and almost blew the game.
Chemistry has been a looming issue with Temidayo Yussuf being out for six weeks, Ron Freeman leaving the team to pursue a professional basketball career and lineups being altered almost every game. There is no consistency on both ends of the floor, with the 49ers picking and choosing when they want to lock in on defense or just try to outscore their opponents.
Long Beach ranks 310th in giving up opponents points, averaging 77.2 per game. Out of 351 NCAA Division 1 schools, it makes the 49ers one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. Long Beach does a better job offensively, and is ranked 133rd in the nation scoring 74.8 points per game. The problem is that once conference play begins, teams start to lock in defensively, which has made all the difference in the 49ers unimpressive 3-6 start.
Long Beach has two road games coming up against Fullerton and UC Davis, which both have been heating up after slow starts. The 49ers are potentially looking at a 3-8 start and while that may not hinder their chances of participating in the Big West tournament, it’s a bad look for head coach Dan Monson who received a five-year extension last season.
It’s even possible that Cal Poly and UC Riverside go on a run and prevent Long Beach from getting into the tournament. The 49ers are treading in water and are in desperate need of finding ways to win. Whether that’s playing Deishuan Booker 35 minutes a game, who is averaging 30 minutes, or giving Milos Apic and Demetrius Mims more minutes, change needs to happen quickly.
This team is looking worse than last year. Without a star player like Gabe Levin carrying the load, Monson hasn’t figured out a game plan to get some wins in the Big West. Alumni are mad, fans are upset and players look disgruntled after each loss.
The 49ers may be in good spirits after Saturday’s win, but the next seven games are going to be a tough outing.