#121 Long Beach State Men's Basketball Preview

Long Beach State 49ers

Overall Rank: #121
Conference Rank: #1 Big West

Long Beach State Logo

Long Beach State Team Page

2010-11: 22-12, 14-2
2010-11 postseason: NIT
Coach: Dan Monson (60-68 at Long Beach State, 230-191 overall)

Long Beach State dominated the Big West last season, but an upset loss at the hands of UCSB in the Big West Conference Tournament left the 49ers out of the big dance and stuck in the little dance. However, the big four are back and all seniors and they will not let that happen again. Reining Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Casper Ware, is the heart and soul of this team and led the squad with 17.2 points and 4.4 assists per game. Fellow guard Larry Anderson does a superb job attacking the basket and hitting the glass and ended his junior season with 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game. The frontcourt is almost as impressive with T.J. Robinson and Eugene Phelps. Robinson emerged as a solid scorer in the paint and has the shooting touch to step outside and stretch the defense. More importantly, he is the best rebounder in the league and he will tally more double-doubles than anybody else in the conference. Phelps is often the overlooked member of the big four, but he just averaged a mere 9.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and led the 49ers in blocked shots last year.

Who’s Out:
The starter who is not returning is Greg Plater. Plater, who averaged 11.8 points per game during his senior season, was the shooter on the team and that will not be easy to replace. On a squad that went seven deep on a good day, replacing anybody with an experienced player is difficult. Tristan Wilson was also one of those players in the regular rotation and he too is gone. Wilson only averaged 14.0 minutes per game, but he was sixth on the team in scoring. Little used Lin Chang and Brandon Nevens round out the group of who will not be suiting up for Coach Dan Monson during the 2011-2012 campaign.

Who’s In:
The big four will average about 30 minutes per game each…if not more, but finding some quality depth from the newcomers would be beneficial. The biggest need is on the wing where junior college transfers James Ennis and Kris Gulley will try and crack the regular rotation. Ennis spent two years at the junior college level and has a little more experience than Gulley. Both are big wings at 6-7 and if either can prove to be a shooter at this level, they will certainly get plenty of playing time and possibly replace Plater in the starting lineup. Freshman Shaquille Hunter will be in the mix as well and point guard Michael Caffey could find a few minutes here and there as the eventual replacement for Ware. Up front the redshirt freshman Nick Shepherd will add some depth. Gatete Djuma will as well, but he is a project and will not likely see much playing time this year.

Who to Watch:
Edis Dervisevic is the only other returning player with any major experience. He averaged 15.0 minutes per game and the 6-8 forward could earn a starting job due to lack of other options early in the year. Ideally, Dervisevic will provide a breather for Robinson and Phelps up front, but Phelps can play at the three spot with Dervisevic at the four if the newcomers take longer than expected to come around. Corey Jackson could see his role increase as well during his senior season, but he is best suited to be a shooter off of the bench. After playing very limited minutes last year, it would help the 49ers if he could knock down a few long balls here and there.

Final Projection:
Cal Poly may give Long Beach State a run for their money, but this team is too talented to lose the Big West. With Ware, Anderson, Robinson and Phelps leading the way, it is impossible to find a more talented group of starters in the Big West. The big question will be if Long Beach State can stay healthy, find enough depth and finish the job when it matters the most. If they can, this is a group that can make some noise in March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Casper Ware, Senior, Guard, 17.2 points per game
Larry Anderson, Senior, Guard, 14.3 points per game
James Ennis, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Eugene Phelps, Senior, Forward, 9.7 points per game
T.J. Robinson, Senior, Forward, 13.6 points per game

Check out another article about Long Beach State men’s basketball