The third time’s a charm as the Long Beach State men’s basketball team captured its third regular season Big West Conference crown in as many seasons garnering sixth-year coach Dan Monson his third consecutive Coach of the Year selection.
This is the first time that any team has won as many as three consecutive conference titles since UNLV accomplished the feat when it won seven consecutive conference titles from 1982-1989.
After losing to nemesis UC Santa Barbara the last two years in the Big West Tournament finals, The Beach finally broke through last year winning the tournament and qualified for its first NCAA tournament since 2007.
In the process of leading his team to its third consecutive regular season conference title, Monson also picked up his 100th win as the coach of the 49ers. He now has 103 wins and is two shy of tying the second all-time in school history. Long Beach finished the conference undefeated at home, and is currently riding a 22-game conference home winning streak.
Monson took over the reins the at Beach six years ago, building the program to what it is and with his recruiting classes, including his first one which featured Greg Plater and his second class which featured two-time BWC player of the year Casper Ware, TJ Robinson, Eugene Phelps Larry Anderson.
He also scheduled arguably the toughest preseason schedule in the country featuring teams such as Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Ohio State and Syracuse, picking up wins against then #9 Pittsburg and #14 Xavier last year.
James Ennis was the third 49er in a row to receive the Big West Player of the Year award, following the footsteps of Ware who won the honor last two years in a row.
Sophomore point guard Mike Caffey joined Ennis on the all Big West Conference first team, making Long Beach the only team to have two players from any one team to make the first team.
Ennis was a large part of Long Beach’s attack as he was in the top 10 in scoring (17.0 ppg - 5th), rebounding (6.9 rpg - 8th), field goal percentage (.491 - 7th), free throw percentage (.847 - 2nd), steals (1.8 - 3rd) and blocked shots (1.4 bpg - 4th). He also had 35 games of 10 or more points, nine games of 20 points or more and tallied seven double-doubles.