Well Qualified to Represent the LBC
While all the college hoops fans in Southern California were only paying attention to those teams up in Westwood and downtown, down in the LBC they’ve been playing some pretty good basketball too. NCAA tournament good.
Playing fast and bombing threes, Long Beach State won the Big West Conference tournament, which means they get to go dancing for the first time in a dozen years, They go in as a 12 seed facing five-seed Tennessee (Friday, 11:45 on CBS 2) — a great spot because every year one or two 12 seeds pull the upset (and screw up office pools everywhere).
And this is exactly the kind of team that sneaks up on tourney watchers (and opposing coaches fear) in the NCAA tournament — they start five seniors; they play an aggressive, gambling style of defense; they play three guards at the same time and try to play a Phoenix Suns style of “small ball” that can throw teams off their games; and they can hit the three. Lots of them.
Which means this team is a lot of fun to watch – a more exciting brand of basketball than the teams that get all the press in town.
If you watched the Big West Championship game last weekend you got a good example of what the fearless 49ers can do on offense. Aaron Nixon averages 18.6 points per game (although that has been about 21 of late and was 29 in the Big West title game) and you can count on him shooting from two steps behind the NBA three-point line about three times a game. And he'll drain it – he’s shooting 39% from three for the season.