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A Memorable Season

Basketball's Casper Ware and Eugene Phelps defend as New Mexico’s Kendall Williams (10) takes a shot.

Casper Ware (22) and Eugene Phelps (4) defend as New Mexico’s Kendall Williams (10) takes a shot in the second half of play during the second round 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s basketball championship game. Also pictured are James Ennis and Larry Anderson. Photo by Stephen Carr/Long Beach Press-Telegram

Coach Dan Monson

Coach Dan Monson

When Dan Monson became the Long Beach State men’s basketball head coach five years ago, the program was in a state of flux. Well, he certainly changed that, and success has definitely followed.

Although Long Beach State’s men’s basketball 2011-12 season came to an abrupt halt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Portland, Ore., there were plenty of highlights throughout the year to look back on with pride. With a 25-9 overall record, the 49ers completed their first back-to-back 20-win seasons in nearly 40 years, having gone 22-12 the previous year. They also earned an automatic NCAA postseason bid, going to the tournament for the first time since 2007 and just the ninth time in the program’s history.

Playing what was considered the most difficult non-conference schedule in the country proved to be beneficial for Long Beach, as it breezed through Big West Conference (BWC) play with a 15-1 record and followed that up by capturing the conference postseason tournament.

Highlights of the season were wins at Pittsburgh and Xavier, as well as strong showings at perennial powerhouses Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina—all ranked teams at the time. Overall, the 49ers played eight games against teams who made the NCAA tournament field. Long Beach State also had a 12-game mid-season winning streak, and when the 2012-13 season begins, it will be riding a 22-game home winning streak, a total that includes 15 straight against BWC opponents.

Individual honors were many. Senior guard Casper Ware was named the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Most Valuable Player, an Associated Press All-America honorable mention, a first-team All-District 9 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and among the 11 final Bob Cousy Award nominees for collegiate point guard of the year.

Ware also was named the Big West Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year. The 49er guard finished his 49er career as the all-time leader in assists, tied in all-time steals with senior forward Larry Anderson, and ranked seventh all-time in the Big West in assists. Ware led Long Beach State in scoring (17.4 ppg), assists (114) and 3-pointers made (94) during the season, the second most in school history.

Anderson claimed second-team NABC district honors after being named first-team Big West for the third time in four seasons, averaging 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds. He tied with Ware for the all-time lead in steals at LBSU, a statistic that no doubt helped him in being named the BWC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Senior forward T. J. Robinson, aka Mr. Double-Double for reaching double digit point and rebound totals in the same game, earned second-team NABC district recognition after also being named first-team all-Big West. He finished the season with 17 double-doubles to run his career total to 55, averaging a double-double for the third straight year as he finished the season averaging 12.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He ranked 11th nationally in double-doubles and 17th in rebounding. Also, Robinson set the BWC and Long Beach State record for career rebounds with 1,208 boards, and his 347 rebounds this season ranks second all-time on the single season list at Long Beach. In addition, he finished his campus career fourth in field goals made and free throws made and fifth in scoring.

Monson captured Big West Coach of the Year accolades for the second straight season and was also named one of 24 All-District coaches by the NABC—his second consecutive year as recipient of the District 9 honor. Long Beach is the third university—following Gonzaga and Minnesota—that he’s guided to the NCAA Tournament.

See the Long Beach State Basketball 2011-12 Highlight Video on YouTube.