Upset loss tough to shake, says WSU's NIT foe

DAN MONSON is envious of Ken Bone, and not just because Bone has Klay Thompson at his disposal. OK, that's a big part of the reason Monson is envious of Bone. As much as Monson is worried about facing Thompson, however, the Long Beach State basketball coach is even more concerned about the psyche of his own players.

"I'm worried. I mean, they're not ready to play right now," Monson said Monday.

Unlike Bone, Monson said he is extremely concerned that his team won't be able to rev themselves up to play in the NIT. Long Beach State (22-11) visits Washington State (19-12) at 7 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU.

That's because the 49ers ran away with the Big West Conference regular-season title and appeared to be the prohibitive favorite in the league's tournament. But the 49ers lost out on an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament when they shot a season-low 29 percent in the conference tournament title game on Saturday and lost to a UC Santa Barbara team they had beat handily in both league meetings.

"We met and watched the NIT selection show last night (Sunday)," Monson said, "and I took one look and them and I go, ‘Hey, you guys, we obviously can't get over this in one day, but let's get over it in two.'"

Monson gave the 49ers a day off Monday. They're scheduled to practice this afternoon at Gonzaga, where Monson guided the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight in 1999. "I don't even think they're going to charge me for the gym," Monson joked. "I feel like I'm connected there in some way."

A major part of today's practice figures to be focused on defending Thompson. The Pac-10 scoring leader is coming off a memorable 43-point performance against Washington in the conference tournament.

Monson said the 49ers "switch a lot" on defense, but 6-foot-5 junior Larry Anderson will be the main defender assigned to Thompson. Monson said Anderson is one of several Southern California players on the 49ers who played against Thompson in high school.

"They all like him and respect him," Monson said.

Thompson, of course, has come a long way since high school.

"He's playing at an NBA level right now," Monson said. "You just don't see a lot of guys like him that are 6-6 on the perimeter that have such a quick release.

"It's pretty ‘un-guardable' at this level."

Thompson scored a Pac-10 Tournament record 43 points last week against Washington. He now owns two of the nine 40-point games that have been posted by Pac-10 players since 2002.

Monson, who attended Moscow High School and the University of Idaho when father Don enjoyed a successful run as basketball coach at Idaho from 1978-83, said he's watched the Cougars "six or eight times" on television this season. He's been impressed.

"I think they're the best offensive team in the Pac-10, or one of them," Monson said. "Their field-goal defense is awfully good. That zone has been great for them."It's going to be a hard game."


  • For tickets to Wednesday's 7 p.m. game in Pullman against Long Beach State, click here.
  • Thompson has 1,687 points in 94 career games at WSU, ranking third in WSU's career record books. Isaac Fontaine (1994-97) holds the school record with 2,003 points, followed by Steve Puidokas (1974-77) with 1,894.
  • Wednesday will mark just the third time WSU and Long Beach State have played. The Cougars won in the 1962 contest and LBS prevailed in 1975.
  • The Cougars are 8-2 all-time against current members of the Big West.
  • For the complete 2011 NIT bracket breakdown head here.

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