The Beach look to extend their current win streak to seven games against Big West leader UC Santa Barbara Thursday night at The Walter Pyramid.
Being confident at the right time has played a critical role in The Beach’s current six-game winning streak dating back to Jan. 19.
The Beach is currently ranked number two in rebounds per game averaging 42.8, sitting behind the University of Alabama which averages 44.9 rebounds per game.
LBSU forwards Lassina Traore and Aboubacar Traore both have been contributing to the team by controlling the glass as the two rank in the top 50 in the nation when it comes to total rebounds.
“When you have two big guys that are doing that [rebounding], you know your guards are afraid to let their guy have one because they know how hard those other guys are working,” head coach Dan Monson said. “Every team gets an identity and it’s become our identity our guys are okay with.”
This would be the first meeting between The Beach and The Gauchos since The Big West semifinals last season when Long Beach came on top winning 67-64.
LBSU is going to have to learn to live without star player Joel Murray due to an injury he has been dealing with. But the team is seeing positive results as other players recover from injury.
“We’re missing a preseason Player of the Year, Joel Murray, but he’s not coming back and we know that and that we can’t do anything about that so we have to move on,” Monson said. “I think we’re getting healthy at the right time when we’re playing our best basketball at the right time.”.
According to Monson, Jadon Jones is close to being fully healthy, while Marcus Tsohonis is playing at 90% and Chayce Polynice is back practicing with the team.
Tsohonis has been a key player in the offense averaging 15.7 points per game.
During the UC Irvine match, Lassina Traore looked to Tsohonis to take the shot, showing trust and confidence within the team.
“[Lassina], one of the best in the nation at rebounding, just knowing that he has the trust in me to get shots up and get him in place. For him to be successful is really a key thing for our team,” Tsohonis said.
Monson says they’re treating this game as an opportunity to make a statement, one that could be witnessed by a lively crowd.
“It’s all thanks to them [fans] some of those games we couldn’t have got it done,” Tsohonis said. “If the crowd wasn’t being wild and being loud and supporting and having our back shows that the grit and the grind that they’re behind us and they want to see us winning.”