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Cal State University at Long Beach Scouting Report
- The Dirtbags have wins over Pittsburgh (away), Xavier (neutral), Auburn (neutral) and all eight Big West games they've played. They also have moral victories over SDSU, Kansas and North Carolina.
- Other notable losses for the 49ers were to Montana (away) and Kansas State (neutral).
- Experienced (four four-year seniors start) but not deep. The Beach plays 7 with the starters gaining the majority of the minutes.
- Five players (all starters) average in double digits with diminutive PG/SG Casper Ware leading the way at 17.6 ppg. 6-5 wing Larry Anderson follows with 15.3 ppg.
- Leading rebounder for Long Beach State is 6-8 forward T.J. Robinson at 11 rpg (looks much heavier than the listed 205 pounds. Wonder if The Dirtbags have a 'roid testing program?). 6-7 forward Eugene Phelps follows with 5.8 rpg.
- Despite all the accolades for the seniors, 6-6 JC transfer James Ennis has the potential to be the best player on the floor. He's long, athletic, can shoot from outside, score inside and causes the most disruption on defense if he is on his game.
- The two players off the bench are freshman 6-0 point Mike Caffey and 6-8, 250 Edis Dervisevic. Dervisevic has played in the last two games after missing five games due to injury.
- CSULB leads the Big West in scoring at 74.8 ppg (Titans are second 72.6) but they are also second in defense, limiting Big West opponents to 61.1 ppg. They also lead the Big West in FG% at 48.8% (Titans are second at 46%).
- They have a decent 3-point shooting team with Ware, Anderson, Ennis and Caffey being the threats.
- Like the Titans, the 49ers are just an average rebounding team.
- Vegas: Dirtbags by 13 with a score of 82-69 (o/u 151).
Analysis/Keys to game
- Let's make no mistake, the 49ers are a solid, experienced team (albeit with below-average coaching), but they are not unbeatable. This is not UNLV or even one of the good teams from New Mexico State or Fresno State that gave the Big West fits. In fact, due to their lack of depth and their pension to choke in big games, no one would be surprised if they didn't win the Big West Tournament.
- The Titans actually matched up okay against the Gold-miners in the past, but with the return of Dervisevic, and the addition of Ennis, not so much. Against the starters, Omondi Amoke should be fine against Phelps, Kwame Vaughn good on Ware, D.J. Seeley matches up well with Anderson, a determined Orane Chin should be able to stop Robinson but that leaves Isiah Umipig to guard Ennis and that's just not going to happen.
- If the Titans play man, Umipig/Perry Webster will have to play against Ware and that could prove difficult. If you go to zone, that will leave us crossing our fingers that CS-Long Beach goes cold from the outside. We are 8th in the league in 3-point defense, letting opponents hit 42.6 percent from beyond the arc, so it's a gamble but one the Titans will be making during at least some of this game.
- Best bet, defensively, is to keep them off guard and change defenses constantly, even when one appears to be working.
- Look for Dervisevic's 15.4 minutes per game to increase if he's near 100%. Titans have trouble with the physical big men and Phelps seems to always pick up fouls against the Titans.
- For the Titans, the NorCal three need to have huge games. All our three-point shooters need to be hitting from the outside and Webster needs to shoot the open shot when it's available.
- Titans need to play two good halves as they will not be able to afford defensive lapses or long periods of scoring droughts as they have in most games they've played. Simply need to keep the home crowd at bay.
- Long Beach State won't press as much as Northridge however they do play a similar half-court pressure zone defense and they are much better players and better athletes than the Matadors. Titans need to limit their turnovers to 12 or less to have a legitimate shot at winning this game.
- Cal State Fullerton can not suffer a rebounding lapse as they did against CSUN. They need to win this battle.
- Both teams are sporadic at the line. If the game is in reach we will need to be hitting free throws.
- Considering the Titans are already admittedly fatigued -- this will be their 6th game on the road in the last seven played -- it's really no surprise that Long Beach is the heavy favorite.