#120 Long Beach State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Long Beach State 49ers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #120
Conference Rank: #3 Big West

Long Beach State Team Page#120 Long Beach State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Long Beach State Basketball Tickets

Their five regular starters may be gone from a team that went 16-17 last year, but there are plenty of reasons for Long Beach State to be optimistic. Not only was their some talent down the bench last season, but Coach Dan Monson is also bringing in three transfers eligible this season and another solid recruiting class. And 16 wins never tells the entire story for the 49ers. LBSU will always play a tough schedule. Their 10-6 mark in Big West play was not spectacular either, but it was good enough for fourth place in a conference that had some good teams.

2014-15 Record: 16-17, 10-6
2014-15 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Monson
Coach Record: 135-125 at Long Beach State, 305-248 overall

Who’s Out:
Mike Caffey, David Samuels, Tyler Lamb, McKay LaSalle and Eric McKnight all started at least 17 games during their final season with Long Beach State. Caffey was the star of the team, leading the squad with 16.2 points, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Samuels, a 6-7, 225 pound forward, really stepped up during his senior season, averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds. He turned into a much needed consistent interior scorer. Lamb saw his production decrease in 2014-2015, but he was always capable of big games when his shot was falling. LaSalle added another long range threat, while McKnight added girth to the frontcourt. Deontae North, who averaged 3.4 points per game, and Jack Williams, who averaged 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, are not returning after up and down freshmen campaigns.

Who’s In:
This is where LBSU gets interesting and we will start with the transfers. Nick Faust is the most experienced transfer. He spent three years at Maryland, most recently averaging 9.4 points per game in 2013-2014. The 6-6 guard is a big time scorer in spurts and can knock down quite a few three-pointers. He wasn’t on one of the good Maryland teams, but Faust was a two-year starter for an ACC team. Roschon Prince spent one year at USC where he was far less productive than Faust. The 6-6, 230 pound forward averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds during his lone season with the Trojans. Prince was a huge recruit coming out of high school, but never really cracked the regular rotation on a bad USC team. If the change of scenery gets him going, Prince will be a standout player in the Big West. Gabe Levin is the last of the eligible transfers this year. The 6-7 forward started 29 games as a freshman at Loyola Marymount, averaging 11.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. Five freshmen will suit up for the 49ers too. Point guard Noah Blackwell could be the best of the bunch. Blackwell is a superb talent who can score and play solid defense on top of his ball handling duties. With the starting point guard duties up for grabs, Blackwell will certainly be eyeing a starting role as a freshman. Lorne Currie and redshirt freshman Alex Rifkind will look to add depth on the perimeter. Currie’s athleticism alone could get him some quality playing time right away. Mason Riggins and LaRond Williams will add frontcourt options. Both are good athletes for players their size and frontcourt athleticism is something this team needs. They have it now.  

Who to Watch:
You could make a pretty good starting five out of the newcomers, and it is feasible that Coach Monson will have a starting five at some point that is made up entirely of new faces. But there are returning options too. Most notable is Branford Jones, a 6-1 junior guard who averaged 7.0 points per game last year. Justin Bibbins did not play too much last year, averaging just 7.8 minutes per game, but he comes in as the most experienced point guard on the roster. Travis Hammonds, a 6-6 wing, was in the regular rotation as a sophomore, averaging 6.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. The 49ers also return guard A.J. Spencer who missed last season with an injury. Two years ago he was second on the team in minutes and averaged 9.1 points, 1.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Logically there should be a spot for him back in the starting lineup. Temidayo Yussuf is the only returning forward who made an impact last season. As a freshman, he averaged 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Final Projection:
It is quite amazing to find seven or eight players who probably could start on a team that lost five starters. This team could be more talented than they were last year. But just because it looks like some deserve to start, it does not mean they have earned the right. Jones started a dozen games for the 49ers last season, but everybody else still needs to prove a lot. High praise out of high school means nothing now. Coach Monson will sort through the pieces and find what works, but team chemistry and the definition of player roles will make the difference for LBSU. If everything comes together, the talent on this team will win the Big West. If not and inconsistency becomes the norm, Long Beach State will be looking at a mid-table finish in the Big West.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Noah Blackwell, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Nick Faust, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Roschon Prince, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Gabe Levin, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Temidayo Yussuf, Sophomore, Forward, 3.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.3 (202nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.3 (191, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.1 (248, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (148, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (101, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.2 (176, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (211, 8)
Rebound Margin: -1.6 (255, 9)
Assists Per Game: 11.2 (273, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (262, 9)


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