Still fresh off a 91-57 loss to No. 6-ranked Arizona, Long Beach State coach Dan Monson joked a little about his upcoming games against Kansas State and Michigan.
(Kansas State guard Omari Lawrence hauls in a rebound against Oral Roberts last Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum).
“Well, we should roll through those two. Those two shouldn’t be a problem, right?” Monson said in a Puerto Rico Tip Off teleconference. “Somebody asked me after the Arizona game, ‘what did you learn about your team now, you said you wanted to figure out what you needed to work on?’
“I came out of that game, and I said, it’s really pretty simple, we only have four things we need to work on now, and that’s our offense, our defense, our rebounding and our shooting. I say that to kind of be funny, but it’s also really true.”
The 49ers (1-2) will head to Manhattan on Sunday as both teams will be playing one last game before heading to the Puerto Rico Tip Off next week.
Long Beach lost to Loyola Marymount on Thursday, 74-73, but Monson said they continue to work on improving by playing a tough non-conference schedule.
Much like K-State (1-1), which won its first game of the season on Wednesday over Oral Roberts, the 49ers have a young team that is still learning and trying to gain experience.
“We have two starters returning, but we’re trying to integrate seven new guys in and you know, this is a great opportunity for us just to improve and get better,” Monson said. “The great thing for me is I don’t have to worry about Kansas State or Michigan. I know who they are. I’ve got to worry about my team. I don’t know who they are. We’re going to worry about ourselves and getting better and trying to compete better.”
K-State will work to feed off the momentum it built in the 71-63 win over Oral Roberts that was paced by a 25-point performance from freshman Marcus Foster.
Foster scored just eight points in the season opener against Northern Colorado, but said he felt more comfortable in Game 2. The freshman called the Wildcats’ season-opening loss an eye opener, and thought their win over the Eagles turned things back around.
“We have to come to play every night,” Foster said after Wednesday’s game. “This was a big win for us and we came out and played hard and competed for 40 minutes and came out with a win. I think this is going to be a turning point for our season.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber said he’s known Monson for some time, dating back to the days when Monson’s father Don was coaching and was a good friend of coach Gene Keady, Weber’s boss at Purdue at that time.
Monson’s first job as a head coach was at Gonzaga, where he helped kickstart the program to what it is now under coach Mark Few, before leaving to be the head coach at Minnesota.
Since he took over at Long Beach State in 2007, the 49ers have gradually become more successful, winning the last three Big West titles and advancing to the postseason three times — including one NCAA tournament berth.
Weber said he expects Long Beach State to be a comparable opponent to Oral Roberts.
“They really play hard, a lot like Oral Roberts,” he said. “(They’re) undersized but play hard. It’s going to be some tough matchups for us.”
Looking forward to their own Puerto Rico trip, Weber said the Sunday game against Long Beach won’t give them much time to dwell on the outcome, as they will leave for the tournament on Monday.
With the two teams playing on opposite sides of the bracket, it’s plausible that they could meet again in the third game of the tournament. K-State will open with Charlotte and then play either Georgetown or Northeastern.
“You’ve got to get Long Beach then get on a plane and start worrying about Charlotte,” Weber said. “It’s a very talented tournament, and it’s going to be a challenge for us”
LONG BEACH ST. (1-2)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Mike Caffey Jr. 6-0 18.7 5.0
G — M. LaSalle Jr. 6-3 7.3 2.0
G — Kris Gulley Jr. 6-7 2.7 2.7
F — D. Samuels Jr. 6-7 6.7 5.3
F — D. Jennings Sr. 6-9 14.7 12.0
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — W. Spradling Sr. 6-2 9.0 4.5
G — M. Foster Fr. 6-2 16.5 3.5
G — S. Southwell Sr. 6-7 7.0 4.5
F — W. Iwundu Fr. 6-7 8.5 5.0
F — DJ Johnson So. 6-9 12.0 8.0