Okay, I am not going to sugar coat this: Beating Long Beach State is friggin' AWESOME!!!
I truly believe that the difference in the game was that the Titans all played with energy, which fed off each other, and thus produced a good quality TEAM win.
I'm not a big fan of using CAPS so you know this was special. Like Gerard Anderson said, though, it was great beating a cross-town rival, in front of a packed historic Titan Gym, but the important thing was just playing well as a team who was in desperate need of a win.
Before getting into the player highlights, let's start off with coaching. There was no question who the better coach was last night and that was clearly Bob Burton. Dan Monson didn't know what hit him and he lost control of this game very early. Burton, meanwhile, made all the right moves, especially on the defensive end. His match-ups were nearly flawless.
The Titans stagnated a bit against the zone (not nearly as much as previous games) but then they were eventually able to attack and get some good shots. Despite the success, I think the zone actually hurt Long Beach in the end as it seemed to sap (emotional) energy from the players. On the flip side, Cal State played man the entire game and the players really seemed to respond and play with lots of (good) emotion.
To say Gerard Anderson had a break-out game is an understatement. Career night that should boost his confidence for the remainder of his senior season. Those two highlight reel dunks dunks were most impressive (Thanks SigmanNuTitan and Derek Opina). His three 3's weren't bad either but only two turnovers, man, that's just sick. Every game won't be this easy but if he can continue to play in control, he is a first-teamer.
Best game of the year for sophomore Jacques Streeter as well. Still room for improvement but he came through in a big way in a big game. His shooting was outstanding and his floor leadership was solid once again.
Not to be outdone, Bryce Webster also had something to prove to Monson, who recruited him to Minnesota. 5 for 5 and 7 boards in 35 minutes (never thought I would see this many without overtime). More importantly, he helped to keep the 49ers off the boards while on defense and set tons of picks on the offensive side. Total team player.
Devon Peltier may have not had the best night shooting but he keeps it positive on the floor and works hard when he's in the game. I can easily see a 6 or 7 three-point night in his future.
Johnson played with his best energy thus far this season. I felt he might struggle covering T.J. Robinson and/or Larry Anderson, but he more than held his own. Great rebounding game. He's not quite there yet offensively -- needs to be able to finish those close range shots -- but he is improving and if he can maintain that enthusiasm every game he will be a force down the stretch.
Eric Williams only played five minutes but it seemed like more. The four free throws obviously helped but he is very cool and collected in stressful situations. That last four minute stretch was not pretty but he recovered a loose ball and new exactly what not to do (turn it over).
Orane Chin struggled and not sure what has happened to his game. He just doesn't seem to be 100% there a lot of the time. Hopefully he can work his way out of this funk.
I was happy to see Ray Miller get into the game. Probably would have played more if not for Bryce staying out of foul trouble. He came in and almost earned himself more time. Hang in there and make those two-footers. Nice two boards in one minute though. I still think he is going to make an impact later down the line.
Not a must-win against UC Riverside on Saturday but I think it's a must-play-well and must-play-with-passion game, with no major set-backs.