Holiday Tournaments Fill Men's Hoops Schedule
Men's Basketball Release No. 7
Hawai‘i hosts the eighth annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, one of the three tournaments on this week's men's basketball schedule.
Long Beach State Beats Pac-12 School
Long Beach State earned a hard fought 71-67 victory at Oregon State in Friday’s matchup at the Moda Center, home of the Portland Trailblazers. It was the program’s first road win over a Pac-12 school since 1995. In addition, it represented the third time during the Dan Monson era that the 49ers knocked off a Pac-12 school, piggybacking off games against UCLA in 2009-10 and USC in 2013-14. The 49ers have won three of their last four contests heading into a home showdown with Colorado State on Thursday.
A Tough Road
Entering the final two weeks of non-conference play, Big West teams have seen their fair share of suitcases and hotel rooms. Of the 108 non-conference games against Division I opponents spread out among the nine Big West members, 74 of those have been or will be played on neutral or away courts. That equates to 68.5 percent of the total non-conference Division I games.
Johnson Finding The Range
CSUN junior Darin Johnson, a transfer from Washington, leads the Big West in three-point field goal percentage, hitting on 56.4 percent (22-of-39) of his shots from distance through 11 games. That figure would rank him sixth nationally, but to qualify for the category a player must average 2.5 makes per game minimum. Johnson has shot 50 percent or better from three in each of the last seven games.
Tourney Time Back In Play
The last slew of holiday tournaments comes in a flurry this week as UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Hawai‘i look to pick up some wins before the new year. The Anteaters look to defend their title at the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, meeting Akron in the opening game and either UTEP or UMES in the consolation or championship. UCSB is playing in the South Point Classic for the second straight year. The Gauchos meet Iona and Nevada on consecutive days at the Las Vegas-based tourney. For the eighth straight year, Hawai‘i is hosting the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The ‘Bows open up against Illinois State this Thursday on ESPN2.
Fit For A Prince
Long Beach State junior Roschon Prince has recorded back-to-back double-doubles, the first ones of his career. He had 12 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Oregon State, then returned on Monday with 17 points and 11 boards as the Beach defeated The Master’s. Over the last five games, Prince is shooting 71.4% (15-for-21) from the field.
Strength Of Schedule
The NCAA’s Dec. 20 RPI report lists three Big West schools that are ranked in the top 40 of toughest non-conference strength of schedule – UC Santa Barbara (3), Long Beach State (24) and UC Irvine (38).
BIG WEST BY THE NUMBERS
3 - Number of Pac-12 schools a Dan Monson-coached team has beaten at LBSU.
33 - Career-high points for UCI’s Jaron Martin against New Mexico State, most by a Big West player this season.
9.4 - Threes per game for Cal Poly, tied for 43rd nationally.
Lou Henson Award Watch List
Juniors Justin Bibbins of Long Beach State and Gabe Vincent of UC Santa Barbara represent the Big West on the 50-player Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List, as announced by online publication CollegeInsider.com. The two guards are up for the award presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major player. Bibbins, a second team all-conference pick last year, registered 164 assists for the third-highest single-season total in 49er history. Vincent, who earned All-Big West Honorable Mention praise, knocked down 80 three-pointers to rank No. 2 on the Gaucho single-season chart.
Long Beach State Earns Media Nod
With 203 points and 19 first-place votes, Long Beach State was the choice of the media to win the 2016-17 Big West men’s basketball regular season title. Head coach Dan Monson’s 49ers, which return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s 20-15 club, was cast in the favorite’s role for the first time since the 2012-13 season. In addition to returning Bibbins, LBSU also welcomes back junior forward Gabe Levin, an honorable mention all-conference selection who averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Once again, LBSU faces one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules with road games against the likes of Wichita State, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA, Washington, Kansas and Texas.
Graham Nominated For Allstate Good Works Team
UC Davis senior guard Darius Graham was nominated to the 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, which represents the sport’s finest in the areas of community service and leadership among their peers, and recognizes players at all levels of college basketball whose charitable involvement and altruistic acts stand out amongst all other student-athletes participating in the sport. A total of 181 players were recognized from the NABC, and the final 10-member team will be announced in February and be honored during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® in Phoenix, where they will participate in a community service project benefitting the city. Graham has been involved in the UC Davis Reading Program, which includes more than 23,000 elementary-aged children from 35 schools throughout Yolo and Sacramento counties. In addition, he helped organize food drives, toy drives and classroom visits during his junior season.
Williams, Monson Among Winningest Coaches In Big West History
UC Santa Barbara’s Bob Williams and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson are the two current longest-tenured and winningest head coaches in Big West history. Williams became only the third coach in conference history to reach the 300-win mark when the Gauchos won at UC Riverside on Feb. 18, 2016. He joined Bob Thomason (436 at Pacific) and Jerry Tarkanian (405 at Long Beach State and UNLV) in the exclusive club. Williams, in his 19th season at the helm of the Gauchos, is also third with 181 wins in Big West play. In his 10th season, Dan Monson has compiled 159 wins at Long Beach State, which places him for 11th all-time in Big West annals. Monson is five victories shy of entering the top 10. The No. 10 spot is currently anchored by UC Irvine’s Bill Mulligan (163, 1981-91). On the conference wins list, Monson is 96-50 all-time, needing four more victories to become just the seventh coach to reach 100.
Several first-year Big West players are ranked among the conference leaders in scoring and rebounding. Noah Allen, a transfer from UCLA, ranks No. 5 in points per game (14.8) and rebounding (6.3). UC Davis redshirt junior Chima Moneke is the conference’s leading rebounder at 8.0 per game, while his 14.7 points per game average is No. 6.
Here is a list of Big West newcomers ranked in the top 15 in either scoring or rebounding throughout the league:
||UCLA transfer averaging 14.8 points per game
||Averaging 21.0 points over last three games
||Long Beach State
||Shooting 15-for-29 from three-point range last four games
||Has three 20-point performances this season
||Scored career-high 19 points against Princeton
||Leads Big West with 4 double-digit rebounding games
||Grabbed seven boards in 22 minutes against UCLA
||Career-high 11 boards versus Florida Atlantic
||Has collected 5 or more caroms in seven games
||Nabbed 14 rebounds in 23 minutes versus Nevada
||Has had seven or more rebounds in four games
||Cal State Fullerton
||Tallied six boards in 19 reserve minutes at Omaha