While the road hasn’t always been pretty, the rise and grind to the top has been limitless for LBSU Men’s basketball coach Dan Monson.
On Feb. 8, Monson reached an all-time milestone and collected his 400th career win.
Monson has coached at Long Beach State since 2007, but before he joined The Beach, he was the head coach for two other NCAA Division 1 institutions, including Gonzaga University from 1997-1999 and University of Minnesota from 1999-2006.
After his departure from Minnesota, Monson immediately found himself a new home at LBSU and became the top-winning coach in program history.
“Obviously you do that because you’ve had some administrators along the way support you,” Monson said. “You’re not going to win 400 games without going through some tough times and some losses.”
Monson expressed his gratitude to the three administrations he has worked with, saying that he is fortunate and thankful for their support.
“There’s not very many places that you know are patient and let you stay around as long as those three places let me,” Monson said. “It just brings back a lot of memories, a lot of good feelings, a lot of good people and players along the way that made it all possible.”
When entering the game that night, Monson and some of his players admitted they weren’t aware that it was going to be his 400th career win. It wasn’t until after the game when the announcement of the win was made that he became aware of it.
“I didn’t really realize it until that day when the TV announcer David Miller said, it was my 400,” Monson said. “I should have known something because my son works for Boise State basketball, and he found a plane ticket that day, and came in for the game and was the first one to give me a hug on the floor after it was over.”
Monson explained the most important thing for him and the 400-win milestone was to just have his family in the audience. His wife, two sons, and youngest daughter were all in attendance.
While this milestone is incredible for Monson, this year has not been the prettiest for the team as they started conference play 5-8. It wasn’t until Jan. 13 in a home game against UC Santa Barbara that The Beach had started to find its groove.
The team caught fire and went on an 11-game winning streak, putting them in first place in the Big West Conference. The streak ended on Feb. 19 when the team lost to UC Santa Barbara.
Early in the season, Monson faced heavy criticism for the team’s poor performance. Right now, The Beach are in first place and are looking for its first conference championship since 2012.
The team has not had a winning season since 2015-16 when The Beach finished 28-17.
Monson has faced some adversity, but he said he doesn’t pay attention to criticism much and focuses on the next game.
“The only thing you can control is your attitude and your effort… I think it would be disrespectful [the team] if I’m worried about what other people are saying,” Monson said. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that it’s out there, but what can I do about that?”
Even with the team’s current win streak, Monson believes that there are still people who will second guess what he and the program are doing.
While there has been some criticism of coach Monson over the years, LBSU athletic director Andy Fee has trusted and believed in him since he was hired at Long Beach in 2017.
“Relationships take time, you know, coaches, administration, y’all have to kind of figure each other out, right? You want to align, and you want to support one another.” Fee said.
Relationships, trust, and support are things that Fee encourages in the midst of his fifth year as an athletic director at The Beach.
“I mean, you come to a basketball game you’re gonna see the volleyball team and volleyball coach and baseball players. You go to a men’s volleyball match, you’re gonna see coach Monson and coach Cammon,” Fee said. “When you can rely on someone, when you can trust someone, you can do amazing things.”
In regard to the team’s 11-game win streak, Fee believes that coach Monson is doing what he and the team talked about and that’s focusing on adjustments throughout the season.
“Adjusting some of the things that he was doing, you know, whether it’s the recruiting or just the management of the program,” Fee said.
Every Monday, coach Monson takes it easy on the team where they have a short practice and study film. More importantly, coach Monson does what he calls “Mental Mondays.”
This is a day dedicated to giving back to his team and focusing on their mental health. Fee said coach Monson will bring in different speakers to come and talk to the team at the beginning of the week and he believes this has been a big part of the team’s recent success.
“I think the commitment and the buy-in from the players has been the difference,” Fee said.
Senior guard Drew Cobb expressed that he is proud of coach Monson and everything he has overcome during his time at Long Beach.
“I’ve definitely seen ups and downs with Monson and seeing everybody, a lot of people turned on him,” Cobb said. “I got to go through that with him there, I was on all the teams with him. So just seeing how far he’s come and knowing his history and how legendary he’s been to the sport of college basketball.”
Cobb said that one of the things he was always thankful for was that not many people gave him an offer to play for them. He is thankful that Monson gave him the opportunity to play college basketball and welcome him to Long Beach with open arms.
“The one that really always has stuck with me is that he believed in me before a lot of people ever did,” Cobb said. “So, for that, I’ve always respected him and I’m always riding with him for that.”
Fee said that he was excited to see the fans and players cheering and congratulating Monson after the big victory that night.
“I gave him a quick hug as he came off the court, and it’s just really nice to celebrate something like that and be able to be there,” Fee said.
Cobb described Monson’s 400th win as a legendary moment for the 15-year coach.
“The fact that I was a part of it, and I was able to help him get that along with the rest of my guys,” Cobb said. “Just being here to witness it and on top of that type of game, it was you know, I’m saying it was a perfect atmosphere.”
As Monson has accomplished a huge milestone in his career, his next goal isn’t his 500th win as he is focused on this season and winning the Big West.
“The next goal for me is to win the Big West regular season and the Big West tournament,” Monson said. “After that, you know, we’ll see what happens.”