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Opinion: Long Beach State men’s basketball will need to be resilient in Big West Tournament

Men's basketball needs to dominate the paint to win.

Christian Gonzales, Staff Writer

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LBSU head coach Dan Monson hasn’t shied away of the expectations of his no.4 seed 49ers resilience this season.

After losing junior Gabe Levin due to injury, having sophomore Noah Blackwell out for nearly a month during conference play has brought significant changes to their roster. The 49ers (14-18, 9-7 Big West) have the pieces to be successful in the Big West.

The men’s basketball team will play Hawai’i today at the Big West Tournament at the Honda Center at 8:30 p.m. in the quarter finals.

The last time both teams met up in the tournament was last year’s final, as the Rainbow Warriors defeated the 49ers 64-60 to advance to the NCAA tournament.

This will be the third time this season that the 49ers will match up against Hawai’i. The teams have split the last two games, each winning at home.

Last Saturday, the 49ers took care of business as they convincingly won 84-75 against the Rainbow Warriors in the final game of the regular season.

After watching this team all season, I expect LBSU to handle business by dominating the paint.

Sophomore forward Temidayo Yussuf has been leading the push to better interior play.

After being picked to win the conference before the season started, the men’s team had a daunting schedule have played four teams ranked teams in Kansas, Louisville, UCLA and North Carolina.

Tough luck are the words to describe this season.

If we have learned anything this season about these 49ers is that they find a way to compete each and every night. Monson appreciates his players efforts despite the tough season.

“They [team] have been resilient,” Monson said. “With a lot of adversity and yet they come back keep fighting and trying to get better.”

This is probably the most talented team in the conference and to be in the fourth spot is destined to be to show what their made of.

If they defeat Hawai’i tonight they will most likely face the no. 1 seed UC Irvine who they have faced back in February in a 72-63 win over the Anteaters. Yes, Irvine has the best defense in the conference but the 49ers have one of the best offenses in the conference so the upset can happen.

Also LBSU have played well against no. 2 seed UC Davis with Yusuff and the backcourt. Especially junior Justin Bibbins who average 10.5 points per game and seven assists per game against the Aggies this season.

Now teams that the 49ers want to avoid are rival no. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton due to the fact that their experienced backcourt can score the ball. The Titans front court can matchup well with the 49ers front court and they would love to avoid that dangerous team. Another dangerous team will be no. 6 seed Cal State Northridge who’s big men are long and space the floor really well.

But good news for the 49ers is that Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge will play each other in the tournament.

For the no.7 seed Cal Poly and no.8 seed UC Riverside, LBSU has won the three games out of four combined against both teams this season.

“At this point seeding doesn’t matter,” Bibbins said. “We beat the no.1 and no.2 seed Irvine and Davis, so at this point it doesn’t matter whoever we play we gotta beat and that’s the mentality we have.”

The team is together. Their coach is competitive. Their best players play with a chip on their shoulder. They have the most talented roster in the conference.

As the no.4 seed LBSU will overcome the challenges it has faced and prove to the rest of the teams in the Big West that the men’s basketball team will be going to the big dance.

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