Pandemonium in the Pyramid

AggieSports provides in-depth previews of each Aggie basketball game, each time, speaking with a hard-core fan of the opposing team. This time, he interviews "GoLongBeach" for a peek at what the Aggies can expect...

His name was Khafre, son of Khufu, also known as Rakhaef of Chephren.  He ruled from 2520-2494 B.C., and is responsible for building the 2nd largest Pyramid in Giza.  During these ancient times, the Egyptians built magnificent pyramids where they would worship, conquer their enemies, store their treasure, and lay to rest their dead.  This Saturday night, the Utah State Aggie basketball team will be walking into the largest "Pyramid" in Long Beach California with intentions of mummifying the Long Beach 49'ers inside their own tomb.  After a 2-11 start, Long Beach is all but wrapped up.   

 

The Event: USU vs. Long Beach

The Time: Sat Jan. 18th 2003 ~ 8:35 P.M. MST

The Place: The Pyramid (5000)

 

Utah State may be playing Long Beach on the road at the right time for a change.  In the past, the Aggies have visited the 49'ers at the end of the season when they have been playing good basketball resulting in some close, hard fought games.  With the way Utah State has been playing on the road recently, this might be another close one…but it shouldn't be.

 

Long Beach is off to one of the worst starts in school history, a school rich in tradition with college basketball.  With the loss of last years senior star Travis Reed, 1st year "Pharaoh" and head coach Larry Reynolds has his work cut out for him.  Besides home wins against CS Monterey Bay, Idaho and a close 65-63 home loss to Pepperdine, the 49'ers have had little positive to focus on.

 

Sr. Guard Tony Darden is leading the 49er team averaging 33 minutes and 16.2 points per game.  He is a very consistent scorer reaching double digit scoring in all but one game this season.  Right behind Darden is Jr. Forward Kevin Roberts who averages 31 minutes and 12 points a game.

 

As a team, Long Beach is averaging 61.5 ppg, just over 30 rebounds, and 19 turnovers.  They are shooting 43% from the field, 69% from the charity stripe and 33% from three point land.  The 49'ers come into Saturday nights' game after a 59-55 win over Idaho.

 

The Aggies step into the Pyramid after an extra day of rest following a heartbreaking 75-73 overtime loss to Irvine.  Utah State played with a lot of heart and had many opportunities to win, despite team leaders Desmond Penigar and Mark Brown combining for 7 of 25 from the field.  Spencer Nelson continues to be a bright spot shooting 68% from the field for the season.  Spencer fouled out in the first 15 seconds of overtime which ultimately hurt the Aggies big time.  Utah State cannot afford two losses on this road trip, especially after last night's Pacific road loss.  It's time for the leaders on this team to step up on the road!

 

Long time Long Beach advocate and 49er basketball Historian, GoLongBeach, has this to say:

 

AS: If you could name one specific reason for the rough start this year...what is that reason?

 

GoLongBeach: "There is no single reason for a rough start.  When Reynolds took over he had publicly stated that he was impressed with the talent that was here.  Slowly personnel began to fall.  First, redshirt freshman, Anthony Davis, who was counted on to be an impact player, transferred to LACC on the first day of school.  That was a blow to Reynolds on his first day of class.  Then came NCAA ineligibility ruling on Tadeo Souza, a 6'8" Senior PF/C.  Reynolds had said that he was most impressed by Souza early on, and now he was gone.  Marc Bowens, a PG that figured to see 15 to 20 minutes a game went down with a knee injury and he was gone for the season.  Later, another key offensive threat, Lemi Williams hung up his career due to injuries that he couldn't overcome.  Add to that the injury to Cody Pearson and you are missing 5 of your expected top 9."

 

AS: Does 1st year Head Coach Larry Reynolds have a future at Long Beach next season if he doesn't get things turned around right quick?

 

GoLongBeach: "Larry was expected to have a rough first season, but not because of lack of healthy players, but because of a very tough non-conference schedule.  Nobody expected things to be this bad, but we now realize that rebuilding may take longer than we all could hope for.  I suspect that Larry is safe for at least two more seasons, absence the complete demise of the team."

 

AS: What will Long Beach have to do to pull out a victory over the Aggies Saturday night?

 

GoLongBeach: "Obviously we need to play our best 40 minutes of the season.  We will need to have at least 3 outside shooters hitting the three (Darden, Hodges and Jenkins) and a turnover free game.  If both of those happen, we still need the home crowd to be strong on our behalf, but many seats will be empty for the contest.  If our guys have their best nights of the season, we can squeak out a victory."

 

AS: In recent years, Long Beach has started slow, but come on strong towards the end of the year.  Is this years' team capable of doing this again?

 

GoLongBeach: "We are all hoping to end this season on something positive to carry over to next year, but even as of this week, we don't have a consistent starting lineup.  It appears that Reynolds is still searching for the combination that works best and yet it still is not in his grasp.  Rumors that a few holdovers are having trouble adapting to Reynolds new system may be true.  I think all the fans close to the program are looking for Larry to finish with a flurry, but many are impatient for this moment to arrive."

 

AS: Who has drawn the assignment of filling Travis Reed's shoes?  Is he stepping up to the task?

 

GoLongBeach: "How do you replace someone like Travis Reed?  We currently have 5 players that combined are not producing the stats that Travis was running up.  At center/power forward, a committee of Lawhorn, Antoine and Marcel Jackson and Alex Graham have yet to achieve the numbers that Reed put up both in scoring and rebounding.  Plus with Reed in the paint our outside shooters had a split second more to take their shots.  Roberts is our most effective inside player, but he was destined to be a SF at the season's start.  In short, we haven't replaced Reed."

 

AS: What do you think needs to happen for Long Beach to turn this season around and win some good ball games?

GoLongBeach: "If I could answer that one, Larry Reynolds would be buying my lunch.  We have to have a PG step up and take charge.  We tried Lemi Williams before he went down and Darnell Thompson showed signs of effectiveness against UCLA.  Against the press we have been nothing but dismal all season and have little ability to bring the ball up court under pressure.  My guess is that if we can get some consistent guard play, we can shake off the turnovers and stay in a few more games."

 

AS: Who is the 49ers star player this year?

 

GoLongBeach: "Tony Darden a SG that is also playing SF is our best scoring threat, but that from outside only.  Tony has had some terrific games and a few that he'd like to forget.  He hasn't been consistent.   Most defenses have keyed on Tony as our threat and have shut him down.  That would probably be an effective game plan for any of our opponents until Hodges or Chris Jenkins are hitting their stride."

 

AS: What is your basketball team's biggest strength/weakness?

 

GoLongBeach: "Strengths are attitude and determination.  Nothing but guts from these guys to play such a difficult schedule and before weak home crowds.   You won't see any player in a 49'er uniform lacking intensity or giving up.

Weaknesses:  No set lineup, no solid PG play, lack of a dominate PF/C, lack of enough bodies to practice with, and most nights, just one scoring threat." 

 

Thanks to "GoLongBeach" for taking the time to answer my questions!

 

Go Aggies!!!


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