Long Beach State 49ers
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #121
Conference Rank: #1 Big West
Long Beach State Team Page
Remember all that time you took to learn about Long Beach State before filling out your bracket last year? When you tried to figure out if Casper Ware could break down the New Mexico defense or if T.J. Robinson and Eugene Phelps could stop Drew Gordon? They couldn’t as it turned out. But forget everything you learned. This 49ers team will be vastly different than the team last year. The turnover will open the door for the rest of the Big West, but this is still the most talented team in the conference. And in January you will have to learn a whole new group of names as transfers likely become eligible.
2011-12 Record: 25-9, 15-1
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dan Monson
Coach Record: 85-77 at Long Beach State, 255-200 overall
Four starters are gone from last year’s squad, most notably Ware and his 17.4 points and 3.4 assists per game. The next two highest scorers from the magical 2011-2012 campaign are also gone. Guard Larry Anderson averaged 13.7 points and Robinson added 12.0 on top of his 10.2 rebounds. The other man in the paint, Phelps, is gone too. Even going down the bench Edis Dervisevic, Corey Jackson, Sean Starkey and the almost never used Mike Vantrimpont all finished up their collegiate career at LBSU with that loss to New Mexico. Thus, we are basically starting all over.
And the 49ers are starting over with some quality players heading into the program. Kris Gulley and Dan Jennings spent last season on the bench redshirting. Gulley, a junior college transfer, is a big wing who can score in bunches. Jennings should be the answer under the basket. At 6-9 and 255 pounds, he has the size to make a big splash on both ends of the court. Spending two years at West Virginia does not hurt either. The group of four incoming freshmen will not get the recognition they deserve due to the other newcomers, but it is not a bad class. Point guard Branford James is the best of the bunch, but Javion Watson will eventually add perimeter depth while Deng Deng is a good slasher from the wing and Gatete Djuma should develop into a consistent post player in time. But that time may not be now thanks to the addition of four transfers who will at least be eligible after the first semester. Tony Freeland will likely crack the starting lineup as soon as possible. Yet the DePaul transfer will get some competition from Loyola Marymount big man Edgar Garibay. The concern with Garibay is his ability to get up and down the floor. At 6-10 and 250 pounds, he is the big man this team could use, but so is Jennings and he tends to move a little better. Willie Hanks, a sophomore guard who spent one season at Eastern Washington will be in the mix as well, but the big addition is Keala King, a mid-season transfer from Arizona State. King will definitely be playing by mid-December, but he is petitioning to be eligible for the entire season. Either way, King is a big time scorer and a very tough player. He was leading the Sun Devils with 13.7 points per game when he was kicked off the team. That baggage is a concern, but the 6-5 shooting guard will be one of the best players in the Big West whenever he gets on the floor.
Who to Watch:
The 49ers do have two key returnees in Michael Caffey and James Ennis. Caffey had to play backup to Ware during his freshman campaign, but he was too good to leave on the bench for long. Caffey often took over the point guard duties so Ware could work a little bit off of the ball. Now it is Caffey’s turn to run the show and if last season was any indication, Long Beach State will be in great hands for the next three years. The other returning player is wing James Ennis. Ennis was often overshadowed on last year’s team, and he may be again, but he did average 10.0 points, 2.6 assists and 4.1 steals. He is a capable outside shooter, but a little more consistency would be ideal. Now that he will be given the chance to lead the scoring charge, Ennis could turn into a big-time scorer…at least until King is eligible.
Long Beach State is again playing a brutal non-conference schedule. Even if some of the major contributors are not eligible right away, this group will grow up quickly. They will have to. And by the time conference play rolls around Coach Dan Monson will have to do some major tweaking to get everybody back in their roles. This is a team that may really have to start over twice…once in November and once after the semester break. But that will still give the 49ers plenty of time to get ready for conference play and even more time to prepare to win the conference tournament and make another appearance in the NCAA Tournament. And this time it is worth the effort to remember this team because they will be back in 2014 and beyond.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Mike Caffey, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Keala King, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
James Ennis, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game
Tony Freeland, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Dan Jennings, Junior, Forward, DNP last season