The Titans are in desperate need of a quality Division I win and there's no better time to get one as long-time, cross-county rival comes to historic Titan Gym for Cal State's Big West Conference home opener. But how? How can the Titans pull off the mild upset (currently 3 point underdogs)?
No fear Titan brethren, here are five keys which will guarantee victory:
Play with urgency. Play with passion.
Begin each half like we are down 10. When not on the break, pick up the pace, don't walk the ball up the court and take 10-15 seconds before you get into an offensive set. Play like you know what you are doing and, if you don't, just fake it. And for those Titans who sometimes look bored on the court, you are playing basketball guys, not watching the The English Patient. Don't get down on yourself after a mistake or two as this negatively impacts the rest of the team.
Titans will need to take care of the ball and cut down on the offensive fouls. CSULB is 2-8 when opponents have 16 or less Turnovers, more then 16 and they are 4-0. 13 or less would go a long ways towards a win.
Wear 'em Down
Long Beach's biggest weakness is depth, or lack thereof. They basically play six guys so, if you can get them into foul trouble, this could seal the deal if the first two keys are obtained.
Or better yet, limit the time playing zone to a few possessions. LBSU has a couple nice three-point shooters in Stephan Gilling and Greg Plater, but that's all they do. Force them to drive. 47 of 57 field goals made by Gilling are three-pointers and he's actually shooting better from that distance (28% v. 44%). Plater is better on the drive but his game is the three-ball.
Match-ups could pose a problem, however. Jacques Streeter should have no problem with Casper Ware. Aaron Thompson/Devon Peltier should be able to contain Gilling/Plater. This is where it can get a little dicey. Gerard Anderson matches up with Larry Anderson but T.J. Robinson -- best player by far -- may be too quick for Jer'Vaughn Johnson. That then leaves Bryce Webster on Eugene Phelps, another quickness problem. May just have to rotate, sub (let's see what Ray Miller can do) and use fouls as necessary. Not a bad thing as LBSU is a really poor free throw shooting team (62%).
Not too worried about overall rebounding, as this is not LBS' strength, but the Titans will need to limit the 49ers on the offensive glass. Eugene Phelps makes his living pounding the glass on the offensive end so Jer'Vaughn Johnson and Bryce Webster will have their hands full. Wings will also have to collapse and help out here.
Take any four of these keys and the Titans will be driving home with a win.