#118 Long Beach St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #118
Conference Rank: #2 Big West Conference
2009-10: 17-16, 8-8
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Dan Monson (38-56 at Long Beach State, 208-179 overall)
It was largely considered in the Big West that it would just be a matter of time before Coach Dan Monson turned Long Beach State into a consistent winner. After finishing second and third in the conference the last two seasons, the time may be here that those expectations will be met.
Key Losses: C Andrew Fleming, G Stephan Gilling, F Arturas Lazdauskas, G Jesse Woodard
Despite returning four starters, it may be the players Coach Monson brought in this year that put them over the top. At the least this group is going to have a ton of depth with five new junior college transfers suiting up for the 49ers. Arguably, the most talented of the bunch is power forward Ed Dervisevic. The versatile 6-8, 245 pounder is a nightmare to guard due to his ability to knock down the long ball. However, the bigger need for this season is in the backcourt where point guard Corey Jackson and Khalid Gerard will battle for significant playing time. Sean Starkey redshirted last season and is a proven outside threat and Tristan Wilson is a big wing who can score in a variety of ways. Finding playing time for all five of those juniors will not be easy, but too much depth is never a bad thing. And the two incoming freshman, power forward Nick Shepherd and shooting guard Jacob Thomas, are pretty good too.
The biggest issue facing the backcourt is replacing starting shooting guard Stephan Gilling. Gilling knocked down 2.5 three-pointers per game and averaged 9.4 points per contest. Filling his shoes should not be much of a concern with the addition of the multitude of junior college transfers who can fill that role. Yet, Greg Plater could fill the void as well. Plater knocked down 2.0 three-pointers per game and almost always provided a great spark off the bench. It may be time for the senior to step into the starting lineup, but he has done very well not starting and eventually he will probably give way to one of the newcomers and continue his stellar shooting off the bench. Larry Anderson is the starter on the other wing. He is not much of a shooter, but he does a great job attacking the basket and using his size to help out on the glass. Casper Ware will once again run the show. Ware not only led the Big West in assists and steals, but also was second on the team with 11.9 points per game. His junior season should be his best yet and that is a scary thought for the rest of the conference.
There is certainly a lack of experienced depth in the frontcourt, but the two returning starters are proven players. Eugene Phelps will not garner many headlines, but he had a very productive season, averaging 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. What makes Phelps so valuable on this team is his ability to block shots. That is the one thing T.J. Robinson is not good at doing. While Phelps does the dirty work, Robinson does a ton of scoring and rebounding. The 6-8, 210 pound senior led LBSU with 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds last season and should be even more difficult for the opposition to stop this time around.
Who to Watch:
The 49ers will have to get some production from Dervisevic and Shepherd or the depth in the frontcourt will catch up to them sooner or later. Luckily, Dervisevic is ready to play at this level right now and Shepherd has plenty of potential and it would be a surprise if he could not play a dozen minutes or so per game by the end of his freshman campaign.
Long Beach State has the talent to dominate the Big West, but there are some other teams out there that are not just going to roll over give the 49ers the title. Coach Monson has to keep his team ready for everybody’s best shot and try and fit in all the newcomers without messing up the team chemistry. By March, that should not be a problem and by 2011-2012, Long Beach State could be looking for more than just a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Casper Ware, Junior, Guard, 11.9 ppg
Greg Plater, Senior, Guard, 9.1 ppg
Larry Anderson, Junior, Guard, 11.8 ppg
Eugene Phelps, Junior, Forward, 8.1 ppg
T.J. Robinson, Junior, Forward, 15.4 ppg
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