CLARK: LBSU fans will be saying UNC-le
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Long Beach State fans who are hoping to see a competitive game between the 49ers and No. 11 North Carolina on Friday should keep their expectations low. They may be about to see the ugliest LBSU game of their lives.
Hype is at an all-time high and tickets are selling quickly for a game that will likely be a blowout in favor of the Tar Heels. The game is already being called the biggest in the history of the Walter Pyramid, and it will be — but not because the game itself will be good.
The 49ers struggled in a season-opening win over Division II North Alabama before making just 12 field goals in an 18-point loss at Southern California Tuesday night. They haven’t been able to hit shots or make free throws, as they have shot just 38.2 percent from the field and 59.6 percent from the line thus far.
To make those problems disappear for tomorrow night’s big game would require a Herculean effort and quite a bit of luck. In other words, don’t count on it.
The students who will be camping out starting at 8 a.m. this morning will likely be hoping for one of two things: an upset of an elite team or an in-person look at some of the top collegiate players in the country.
There’s a chance they won’t get to see much of either.
For the reasons already mentioned and many more, the chances of an upset are slim at best. Those who saw the 49ers take down No. 9 Pittsburgh on the road last year will argue otherwise, but it’s important to remember that the 2011-12 LBSU team members had already developed three years of chemistry between them. This starting five has only been practicing for a couple months.
In all likelihood, Wooden Award hopeful James Michael McAdoo and the Tar Heels will open up a comfortable lead in the first ten minutes or so as the 49ers struggle to get much of anything going on offense. UNC head coach Roy Williams will then sit his star players and send in his garbage time crew for the second half. The ‘Niners might be able to make up some ground late in the game, but it won’t be enough to make things close.
The fans contributing to a record-setting attendance at the Walter Pyramid will see a game that will be decided early on. The rest of the time, they won’t even be able to watch great basketball from UNC. The Tar Heels aren’t polished yet either, and watching the star players put on a show against LBSU will only be so much fun for 49er fans.
The 49er faithful who witness this blowout shouldn’t lose hope in the season though. LBSU head coach Dan Monson schedules tough teams early to provide learning opportunities for his team and to expose weaknesses so that by the time Big West Conference play rolls around, his guys are prepared to win.
LBSU is favored to win the Big West for a reason. They have talented returners in Mike Caffey and James Ennis, and transfers Keala King and Tony Freeland will make significant contributions once they become eligible. The 49ers just need time to get to know each other.
Unfortunately for those attending tomorrow night’s game, LBSU is still developing chemistry.
LBSU and the Walter Pyramid have never hosted a team with the prestige or national following of UNC. That in itself makes this the biggest home game in LBSU history. But if you’re planning on going, just make sure you’re there for the atmosphere and to be a part of school history, not to see a close game.