Daily 49er

Preseason polls couldn’t predict this for Long Beach State

Matthew Simon, Sports Editor

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Just as the seasons change, so too have the journeys for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Both teams were predicted to win the Big West before this season started – and that is where the similarities end.

The women’s team is currently in a battle with UC Davis for the top spot in the Big West and the men’s team is in the middle of the pack during a season that has been filled with disappointment and frustration.

On paper the men’s appeared to be the best in the west. Though junior point guard Justin Bibbins expected to solidify himself as the top guard in the conference, things haven’t come to fruition as injuries have hindered all preseason predictions of conference dominance.

With the addition of transfer junior guard Evan Payne and the return junior forward Gabe Levin made LBSU seem primed to battle for the top spot after making it to the Big West Tournament final last season and finishing third in the conference — the season hasn’t gone that way.

Just as fast as the men’s team looked to prove themselves, they were quickly redirected when they got slammed by one of the toughest – and most questionable – road schedules, which put the 49ers up against some of the top teams in the nation.

While coach Dan Monson has said that the tough road schedule can only help the team get better while putting the program on a national spotlight, the thought process is questionable when the team is getting run out of gyms game after game.

From Nov. 13 to Dec. 3, the men’s team went 0-9 while losing by an average of 20 points. It was a trip that didn’t help the team get better. Then, injuries started pile onto the men’s already troublesome start to the season.

The team faced another setback when Levin suffered a fractured knee that will bench him for the rest of the year. It’s been a perfect storm for the season to continually go against the team that was favored to win the Big West.

Now, for the women’s team — things are different. The women’s team is at full strength and only getting better as the season progresses.

While the women had their fair share of tough nonconference opponents, they have had a good mix of wins and losses that allowed the team to find a method to win.

The women’s team is now able to bring preseason All-Big West guard Raven Benton off the bench so she doesn’t get overworked after overcoming injuries.

That flexibility has allowed women’s coach Jody Wynn to give other players more time which has opened more options for the team that now sits a half game out of first place in the Big West.

The point is — let’s do away with preseason polls and just let the teams play. There’s too many variables that can change throughout the season to try and predict who will be the best.

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