Commentary, Men's Basketball, Sports

Long Beach, we have a Big West problem

Make no doubt about it—this season for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team has been, for the most part, frustrating and disappointing.

What was supposed to be a refreshing new chapter with 11 talented, incalculable newcomers has recently spiraled into a disheartening cycle of losing.

The Beach’s latest 92-75 whooping by the conference’s former bottom team in Cal Poly, was not only tough to watch, but perhaps signaled a coming change as to who’s the lone program to miss the chance to dance in the 9-sided conference. 

A shot at the NCAA tournament? 

Once unthinkable, Long Beach (7-17, 2-6 Big West) is in real danger of losing its spot in the Big West Tournament for the first time under head coach Dan Monson.

With a host of hanging heads, erratic isolation heaves and casual retreats on Mustang fast breaks and threes, the Beach dropped the last place matchup to the conference’s worst offense.

Entering training camp with the second wealthiest talent pool in the Big West, according to Verbal Commits, the Beach expected to compete on any given night, despite its drastically overhauled cast of untested young guns. For the first time this season, it felt like the team had completely run out of answers.

Anything less than a top-to-bottom effort spells disaster for the Beach’s already needle-thin margin of error to win games.

Facing a worsening increase in opponent point totals of 77, 87 and 92 on its current three-game losing skid, Long Beach has fallen apart on the side of the court where it had once hoped to establish a league-winning defensive identity. 

Most of the Beach’s team stats—whether in part by design or personnel—show that the squad has struggled to execute a game plan consistent with modern basketball eight games into the team’s Big West schedule: 

Big West Per-game Team Stats (As of Feb. 7, 2020)
Long Beach State (Ranking)

Points: 68.1 (8th)

3PT attempts: 16.1 (9th)

Assists: 9.5 (9th)

Turnovers: 15.4 (9th)

Steals: 4.3 (9th)

Points allowed: 76.3 (9th)

Conference Average

Points: 70.6

3PT attempts: 19.3

Assists: 12.1

Turnovers: 12.4

Steals: 5.6

Points allowed: 70.5

Whether it be the lack of a true playmaker or the omnipresent cult-call for a new head coach, Long Beach fans have been restless long before this season started, and it might be too late for the team to change its course.

The Beach wanted to be the best defensive team in the Big West. They were driven to prove to doubters that a sixth-place conference projection was wrong. 

Instead, having yet to win back-to-back games with Hawai’i, UC Riverside and UC Irvine on deck, the Beach will have to go 6-2 the rest of the way just to match last season’s 8-8 finish and avoid its first losing Big West campaign in over 12 years.

Long Beach State will resume Big West play against Hawai’i on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

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