Long Beach State Preview

I’m gonna try my best to post these prior to each game as long as you guys want me too (if you don’t, just let me know).

I’m a week early on this one, but dammit I can’t wait much longer. Let’s get the season started already!

[b]Team preview: Long Beach State

Blue Ribbon Yearbook

Editor’s Note: Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, long known as the Bible of college basketball, to provide a comprehensive look at all 326 Division I teams.


Long Beach State will have a new look this season, with four new starters and six newcomers third-year coach Larry Reynolds expects to play significant roles. Typically four new starters would make for a difficult year, but it’s hard to imagine things could get much worse for the 49ers.
Long Beach State ended last season on a 10-game losing streak and the team, four years removed from a 24-win season, has lost at least 21 games in each of the last two years. To put last year’s struggles into statistical prospective, Long Beach State was last in the Big West in scoring margin (-9.6), scoring offense (62.9 ppg), free-throw percentage (.654), steals (131) and three-point field goals made (138). The 49ers were next to last in field-goal percentage (.415), rebounding margin (-3.7), assists (12.3 apg) and assists-to-turnover ratio (424 turnovers/334 assists).

Reynolds is entering what has to be considered a critical third season, so how can he restore the 49ers to respectability? For starters, Long Beach State has recruited experience. Five of the team’s six newcomers played junior college ball or at another Division I school before arriving on campus and should make the 49ers bigger and more physical.

“One of the biggest differences from last year’s team to this year will be you’ll see some very mature looking athletes,” Reynolds said. “We’ll have five or six guys that are at least 6-5, 220-230 pounds. We’re going from a young looking team to a more physical-looking team.”

In addition to being bulkier, Long Beach State will have more depth, which Reynolds hopes will make for greater competitiveness for a team that lost 11 games by at least 12 points.

“This is the deepest team we’ve had [since his arrival],” Reynolds said. “I don’t know if we have any great players, but we have a lot of good players, and that’s better than we’ve had the past couple of years.”


Junior Jibrill Hodges (10.2 ppg, 2.8 apg) is the team’s leading returning scorer. Hodges, who played both guard positions last year, will man the shooting guard position. The 6-2 Hodges was by far the team’s most prolific three-point shooter, draining 55 treys, more than double any other 49er. He was proficient from beyond the arc (.382 3PT) but shot just 39.2 percent from the field overall. Reynolds would like to see Hodges improve his defense.
There will be interesting battle for playing time at point guard. Sophomore Kevin Houston (5.3 ppg, 3.2 apg), 5-10, led the team in assists as a freshman and earned a spot on the Big West All-Freshman team, but he will have to hold off a challenge from junior Keion Kindred, a transfer from Yavapai College. Houston, who started 18 games and played 27.3 minutes-per-game, is a good athlete and he improved as the year went along. He will have to be a more productive offensive player if he wants to earn the starting nod. Houston shot a tepid 33.1 percent from the field and 25.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Kindred brings great size and strength at 6-5, 220 pounds. Reynolds characterizes Kindred as a natural leader and a rugged defender. He comes to Long Beach as Yavapai’s all-time assists leader (402) and handed out 5.7 assists last season. Kindred is not a big scoring threat, but he will need to expand his offensive game.

Six-foot-three junior Louis Darby (6.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg) will see minutes in the backcourt as well. Darby, who didn’t qualify academically and had to sit out as a freshman, is a very good athlete and showed signs of promise last season. He was voted Big West Player of the Week last January after averaging 18.5 points in leading the 49ers to wins against Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, but he battled inconsistency. The major weakness in Darby’s game is his inability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Despite playing in 25 games last year and averaging more than 18 minutes, he attempted just 14 three-pointers and he made only two of them. On the other hand, he is excellent going to the basket and earning trips to the free throw line (3.5 free throw attempts per game).

Red-shirt freshman Kevin Crockett, 6-1, and 6-0 junior Ulric Pattillo (0.5 ppg, 0.2 rpg) are the team’s other guards. Crockett, who sat out last year to ease his transition to the Division I game, has the better chance to earn minutes. He will struggle on the defensive end, but is a prolific three-point shooter who might be capable of providing a quick burst of offense off the bench.

The key to any improvement for the 49ers may rest with forward Anthony Coleman. A 6-11 senior, Coleman transferred from Xavier but played in just two games last year because of a stress fracture in his left ankle that required surgery. Coleman is one of the team’s best shooters and is a match-up nightmare for opponents. In the two games he played last year, Coleman averaged 7.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. If he is able to stay healthy, he should score in double figures. He can play either forward position; which one he starts at will be dependent on the play of his teammates.

Junior Shawn Hawkins (23.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, Pittsburgh, Pa./Columbus State) could earn one of the starting forward positions. At 6-6, 225, he has great strength and is a very good offensive player. He scored more than 30 points six times as a sophomore at Columbus State and has good range, though his most effective work is done around the basket. He doesn’t have prototypical power forward size, but he has a power forward’s game banging on the glass. The only thing standing between Hawkins and considerable playing time is his defense, which will have to improve.

Chris Jenkins (5.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg), a 6-8 senior, will compete for time on the wing as well. Jenkins suffered a broken wrist last year that required pins to be inserted. His recovery has been a slow one, but by the end of the summer he was starting to get back into basketball shape. After a promising freshmen season, Jenkins’ shot has deserted him and last year he made just 28.8 percent of his three-pointers. If he recovers from the injury and regains his shooting stroke, Jenkins could play important minutes.

Freshman Mark Hall (16.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, San Diego, Calif./Hoover HS) was a late signee whom Reynolds was delighted to get. He is an excellent athlete who has the potential to excel as a shot-blocker. As he adds more strength, the 6-6 Hall’s playing time will increase accordingly.

Senior Cody Pearson (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), 6-4, hopes to earn time on the wing as well. Reynolds is excited about the addition of 6-7, 244-pound Onye Ibekwe, a sophomore transfer from Oklahoma State who sat out last year. Ibekwe, whose brother Ekene plays at Maryland, will compete for time at center and power forward. Ibekwe is a banger who will provide the 49ers with toughness and rebounding in the post.

“He can be most effective for us just getting in there and doing what he does best and that’s rebound the basketball and scoring tough inside points,” Reynolds said.

Travon Free (2.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg), a 6-7, 250-pound sophomore, is a traditional low-post player who can score with either hand and is comfortable playing with his back to the basket. Free could provide minutes off the bench, but he will have to improve his conditioning.

Juniors Sam Byrd and Erik Atman, both of whom are junior college transfers, will battle for the starting nod at center. Byrd (6.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, Houston, Texas/Compton College) is the more athletic of the two players. At 6-10, he also has the ability to play on the perimeter, though his offensive game isn’t that polished.

Atman (4.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, Pittsburgh, Pa./Columbus State), a sturdy 6-10, 280 pounds, is Long Beach’s biggest player. He has worked hard to improve his conditioning and could provide the 49ers with a nice complementary player.



It could be another long year for Long Beach State. Offense was a problem last year and it’s difficult to see how that won’t be the case again this season. Reynolds is high on several of his newcomers, but Kindred, Ibekwe, Byrd, et al don’t have glittering offensive resumes.

If the 49ers win 10 games and can qualify for the Big West Tournament, the season will have to be considered a success.

[i]Originally posted by NinerAdvocate[/i]@Nov 11 2004, 09:30 AM [b] I'm gonna try my best to post these prior to each game as long as you guys want me too (if you don't, just let me know). [/b]
i think its a very good idea NA


[SIZE=4][font=Optima]GO NINERS!!![/font][/SIZE]

these longbeach people are more concerned with next year, than this year or tonights game :rolleyes: kinda strange just look at their board.