Long Beach is a wildcard in the Big West, beating top teams including Irvine and Santa Barbara while losing to Fullerton by a combined five points in two matchups. These teams are probably praying that they don’t have to play the 49ers in the first or second round of the tournament.
After a 2-6 start to Big West play, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team has a chance to break even with its final regular season game Wednesday at home against UC Riverside. The 49ers are on a four-game win streak, which will likely amount to five after their next game.
While the streak is impressive on paper, it lessens when you look at the teams they have beaten. It started with a very lucky win against Northridge, an overtime victory over Riverside, an impressive showing against Santa Barbara on the road and an easy win against Cal Poly.
Beating the Gauchos was impressive, but the rest of the teams listed are at the bottom half of the Big West standings. It’s good to get these wins to improve Long Beach’s record and placement in the standings, which will be finalized next week. There’s always the chance that the 49ers are heating up at the right moment, which would be ideal for head coach Dan Monson’s coaching career at Long Beach State, who’s been in the hot seat because of his contract extension.
This win streak should scare teams in the Big West playing against Long Beach, even if those wins are against weaker teams. The 49ers have needed to establish a playing style all year, and heading down the stretch Monson has used senior guard Deishuan Booker as the centerpiece to run team’s engine. His high level of play has paid dividends quickly, but the emergence of role players like sophomore forward Jordan Roberts, senior forward Mason Riggins and senior guard Bryan Alberts has been crucial to the team.
It’s hard to believe in a team that has been so up and down all season, but all it takes is a three-game win streak to head into the NCAA tournament, and that’s something that this team is capable of doing.