Meaningful. Indivisible. No excuses. Discipline. Selfless. Excellence. Toughness.
Donned on the back of the Long Beach State men’s basketball Costa Rica t-shirts, the acronym M.I.N.D.S.E.T. embodied the heart of what this roughly 3,586-mile trip meant to the program — establishing a winning culture.
Last season’s six seniors, headlined by Deishuan Booker, Bryan Alberts and Temidayo Yussuf, walked during commencement at the Jack Rose Track in May. Additionally, the departures of Demetrius Mims and Edon Maxhuni to transfer and professional opportunities, respectively, left the team with an even longer list of roster needs to fill.
The Costa Rica trip was the program’s first international tour in 12 seasons under head coach Dan Monson, and an opportunity sanctioned once every four years for teams by the NCAA.
With three players coming off redshirt designations, two juniors and one senior returning, Monson felt the trip was much needed to bring the rest of the newly assembled team together.
“We have not taken a foreign tour in my 12-year tenure, but with a very inexperienced team and nine newcomers, we felt like this was the perfect opportunity to do so,” Monson told LBSU Athletics.
Over the eight-day trip, the team played a total of three international scrimmages against the Panama All-Stars and San Ramon ARBA at the BN Arena in San José, Costa Rica. The rest of the trip spanned across Alajuela, Playa Conchal and Guanacaste, including team building activities such as sightseeing at the La Paz Waterfall Park and playing frisbee golf.
(Left) Junior guard Drew Cobb gets ready to go down a zip line during team bonding time in Guanacaste, Costa Rica with the LBSU men’s basketball team. (Right) Diamante’s Superman zip line course is the longest experience of its kind in Costa Rica. Courtesy of Drew Cobb
Ahead of the first week of the fall semester, The Daily Forty-Niner spoke with returning junior guard Drew Cobb about the meaning of ¡Pura Vida!, his favorite moment of the trip, playing against international competition, the team’s mindset heading into the upcoming season and more.
(Editor’s note: The Q&A has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ralston Dacanay: The team’s trip to Costa Rica was a pretty rare occasion. What was that experience like for you?
Drew Cobb: It’s just a blessing to be in the position to be able to go, first and foremost. This is the first trip coach Monson’s taken in a very-very-very long time, so we’re all just grateful. We were all excited before we went and going, we didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think any of us except one, being Max [De Geest who’s] from New Zealand, has been outside the country. So when we got there, it was just a culture shock and we were absorbing everything. It was really fun. We got to bond a lot, and I think it was overall just a great trip for our team outside of basketball. Being that we have so many new faces, I felt like we needed that chemistry, needed to bond a little bit and I think all of those things happened while we were out there.
Dacanay: What was your favorite moment during the trip?
Cobb: My favorite moment was for sure ziplining, 100%. That was the craziest experience I have ever [had] in my life. Really scary, we were all high in the air, doing superman dives off a 1,000 foot [hill]. It was crazy, but it was fun because we were all together.
Dacanay: Can you explain what ¡Pura Vida! Means?
Cobb: Basically like, “Enjoy life.” I don’t know. To me, it was like, no words. ¡Pura Vida! You know what I’m saying? Just enjoy life, and have fun.
Dacanay: Basketball wise, this trip gave the team the ability to start practicing earlier than you typically would. How important was that, along with this trip, for building up your culture and team chemistry from scratch?
Cobb: I think last year, we didn’t start until September, so at this time we hadn’t done anything. But that was a different situation, we had a lot of returning players and barely any new faces, so [we] didn’t really need to start early. This year, having all those new faces, starting early was a big advantage and I think we’re taking a good first step heading into September and starting that season off.
Dacanay: Playing in a different country with quarters instead of halves and under FIBA rules, how did you feel playing against international competition?
Cobb: It was for sure an adjustment with the ball, and some of the rules were different. You could take it off the rim. Usually, in American rules, they’re calling that a goaltend, so that was something we had to get used to. They were tip-dunking straight off the rim, but I mean it wasn’t too much of adjustment as it’s still basketball at the end of the day.
Dacanay: You guys took a close loss to the Panama All-Stars in the first game before winning the next two, what improved the most with the team over the three days of scrimmages?
Cobb: I think [our] attention to detail improved immensely. Us trusting the coaches improved immensely, and just knowing that people had our back. That first game, we had to shake a lot of nerves out. A lot of the new guys didn’t know what to expect, how coach Monson coaches, it’s their first game. I was the same exact way last year, so I think just getting that first one out of the way, letting the nerves go and reminding ourselves that this is basketball and it’s a game we can play. That helped a lot.
Dacanay: Coach Monson has mentioned Colin Slater and Jordan Roberts, along with yourself as the team’s leaders this year, how has stepping into that role been like for you so far?
Cobb: It’s made it a much easier process stepping into that role, having my brother Jordan and my brother Colin next to me, along with all of our team. They’re not leaving us hanging. We have a lot of help coming from all different angles, and it’s been a great transition so far.
Dacanay: Heading into your junior year, what are your personal goals?
Cobb: I’m trying to be the best Drew [Cobb] I can be, whether it’s defensively, offensively, improve in all areas. I don’t want to focus on one main thing. I just want to become the best basketball player I can be.
Dacanay: And for the team?
Cobb: For sure, Big West Conference championship. That’s the main goal, but that’s really far ahead. We’re looking step-by-step, one game at a time. Win each game by itself, improve every day and that’ll come with that.
— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) August 16, 2019