LBSU hoops gear up for upcoming season

The Long Beach State basketball program received news that their seasons would begin in December and are preparing for a coronavirus-shortened season. 

Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee announced in October that both men’s and women’s teams could begin outdoor practice to regain basketball fitness ahead of the 2020-21 season, which is rumored to be reduced to 20 Big West conference games. 

Despite the nationwide pandemic, both teams have been busy making roster moves to gear up for the new season. Here is a breakdown of the men’s and women’s teams: 

Men’s Basketball

Head coach Dan Monson, the winningest coach in LBSU history, returns for his 14th season with the team. He has piled up over 200 wins at LB State and has led the team to three Big West championships, six top-three finishes, three NIT appearances as well as a trip to the NCAA March Madness tournament in 2011-12. Monson’s success has rewarded him with three Big West Coach of the Year awards. 

University of Southern California (USC) Forward Bennie Boatwright (25, right) battles for a rebound in his game against California State University Long Beach on November 28, 2018, where USC was victorious 75-65. (Zane Meyer-Thornton)

The 2020-21 men’s team return a majority of the players from last season’s team, only losing senior guard Jordan Griffin and freshman center Joshua Morgan. Griffin was a role player for the Beach who played in all 32 games and averaged 10.3 minutes per game last season. Morgan’s departure left a bigger hole on Long Beach State’s roster as the big man led the team in rebounding (6.1 rebounds per game) and field goal percentage (62.2% last season). 

Long Beach State has at their disposal junior guard Chance Hunter, who looks to be a vital part of the Beach’s offense once again after starting all but one game last season. Hunter led the team in scoring (13.9 points per game), 3-point percentage (41.7%), and was second on the team in rebounding (5.0 rebounds per game) last season. 

Junior guard Michael Carter III and senior guard Colin Slater joins Hunter in the backcourt and both players will be looking to carve big roles for the Beach. Carter led the team in assists last season (79) and averaged 12.2 points per game while Slater was second on the team in 3-point shooting (37.8%) last season and led the team in steals (32). 

Long Beach State center Temidayo Yussuf (34) attempts to maintain possession of the ball during his game against the University of Southern California (USC) on Nov. 28, 2018 where USC won 75-65. Photo by Zane Meyer-Thornton/News4usonline

The men’s team added some players during the offseason to bolster their roster. The most notable addition was senior guard Isaiah Washington, the Iona Gaels transfer who was a consensus top-100 recruit coming out of St. Raymond’s High School in New York. Monson said that Washington could be the X-factor for the Beach this upcoming season. 

He has the ability to create his own shot, make players around him better, and help push our pace back where we like it,” Monson said, according to Long Beach State athletics. “Isaiah has one year of eligibility left in his college career, and we think he will have the opportunity to make it a great one at the Beach.”

Long Beach State is looking to improve its 11-21 overall record last season. Long Beach State managed an above .500 record at home (8-6) but struggled mightily during road games, going 2-13 when they played outside of the Walter Pyramid. The team had a 6-10 Big West conference record and finished as the eighth seed ahead of the Big West Tournament. 

Women’s Basketball

Jeff Cammon enters his fourth season at the helm of the Long Beach State women’s basketball program after being hired as the head coach in May 2017. In his first three seasons in charge, Cammon holds a 30-62 overall record with three Big West tournament appearances. Each year has seen some improvement in the win column, including last season’s jump to 13 wins after winning nine games the year before. 

The 2020-21 women’s team was overhauled this past offseason as seven of the 14 players from last year are not returning. The most notable departures are senior forward Cydnee Winslow, who led the team in rebounds (averaged 6.0 per game) and 3-point percentage (32.2%, minimum 60 attempts), and junior guard Shanaijah Davison, who played in all but one game for the Long Beach State, being the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 12.6 points and nearly 30 minutes per game. 

Long Beach State women’s basketball team celebrates winning the Big West Tournament with a 56-55 win against UC Santa Barbara at the Anaheim Honda Center on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

One key returner for Long Beach State is junior guard Justina King. Last season, King led Beach State in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game and totaled 97 assists. She also averaged 2.0 rebounds per game, had 53 steals, and one block en route to being named to the Big West Conference All-Second Team as well as the league’s All-Defensive team. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Ma’Qhi Berry will also be returning to the team for the 2020-21 season, joining King in the backcourt as a key contributor. Berry was second on the team in total minutes played last season, averaging 31.5 minutes per game. She led the Big West Conference with 71 steals, averaging a conference-best 2.4 steals per game. 

In the offseason, Long Beach State added three freshmen and three junior transfers to bolster reinforcements on the roster. The most notable addition was junior forward Imani Lacy, who was heavily recruited by Long Beach State coming out of high school. Now Lacy will be suiting up for the program after two years at Nevada. 

[Lacy’s] athleticism, length, versatility, and toughness will be a huge asset to our program,” Cammon said when Lacy was introduced to the program. “She’s had a lot of success during her first two years of college and hasn’t even scratched the surface of the type of player she will be. Imani is not only an extraordinary basketball player but an amazing young lady! We are very excited for her to join our family.”

Long Beach State finished last season with an overall record of 13-17, compiling an 8-8 Big West Conference record that slid them into the fifth seed of the Big West tournament. The Long Beach State women’s basketball team has consistently improved in wins over the last two seasons and will look to continue that trend in the upcoming season despite getting a massive roster overhaul. 

Both the men and women’s teams have not had their schedules finalized by the Big West Conference yet, but are aiming to begin their seasons in December. 

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