49ers to host LMU before road trip

LBSU’s trip to Puerto Rico begins with a flight to Kansas State this weekend.

49ers to host LMU before road trip

McKay LaSalle, left, Javion Watson, center, and David Samuels cheer during Saturday’s game.

The Puerto Rico Tip-Off is little more than a week away for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team, but the flights for that trip will begin later this weekend.

Following a home game against Loyola Marymount on Thursday, the 49ers (1-1) will fly to the Sunflower State for a game against Kansas State that will count toward the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Before the ‘Niners board any flights, though, they will be faced with the challenge of slowing down preseason All-West Coast Conference guard Anthony Ireland.

Ireland averaged 20.2 points per game for the Lions (2-0) in 2012-13 and has averaged 17 points per game this year.

The 49ers, however, are still at a point in the season where focusing on self-improvement takes priority over adjusting to opposing teams.

“We’ve got four things we need to get better at: our offense, our defense, our rebounding and our shooting,” head coach Dan Monson said. “It’s kind of a joke, and it’s kind of not. It’s really where we’re at.”

LBSU will then leave The Beach for Manhattan, Kansas, where the Wildcats (0-1) will be waiting for them.

Kansas State had a rough opening game, as it lost to Northern Colorado at home on Friday.

The trip will be a homecoming of sorts for LBSU junior transfer A.J. Spencer, who grew up in Shawnee, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City.

“I’ll have a lot of family there, so it’ll be pretty cool,” Spencer said. “I haven’t been home since I’ve been out here [in Long Beach], so it’ll be good to see my family. It’s a business trip, though, so we’ll go out and get the win first and then see everybody.”

Kansas State has been led by freshman guard Marcus Foster, who has averaged 16.5 points in the Wildcats’ first two games. Senior guard Shane Southwell leads Kansas State with

10 assists and was named an honorable mention on the preseason All-Big 12 team.

Immediately after their game against Kansas State, the 49ers will depart for San Juan, Puerto Rico. They have to go straight to Puerto Rico from Manhattan, Kansas because the game against the Wildcats is technically part of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Monson said the trip would force the players to miss a significant number of classes.

“That just worries me academically,” Monson said. “It’s the only stretch were we miss any school this first semester … It’s every day next week and then next Monday, so it’s six straight days of school. That’s hard for any student, so I’m more concerned about that than the basketball part of the trip.”

LBSU will host LMU at 7 p.m. Thursday night. Their game against Kansas State will start at 11 a.m. Wednesday, and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will start on Nov. 21.