March 11, 2013
Head Coach Dan Monson and senior guard/forward James Ennis have been honored as Coach and Player of the Year, respectively, the Big West Conference announced on Monday. This is the third straight year that Monson has been honored, as well as the third consecutive year in which a 49er has earned Player of the Year accolades, which are chosen by the 10 head coaches in the league.
Monson led the 49ers to the team's third straight outright Big West crown, the first time a team has done that since UNLV won seven straight from 1982-89. The Long Beach coach had to replace four of his five starters from the 2011-12 team and was not at full strength until December when transfers Tony Freeland, Keala King and Edgar Garibay became eligible after sitting out the required year for transferring from another institution.
Monson tallied his 100th career victory at Long Beach State on Feb. 13 at Cal State Fullerton and is just two wins shy of moving into a tie for second all-time in LBSU coaching history (currently has 103 wins). The 49ers also ended the Big West season undefeated at home and have won the last 26 games in conference play in the Walter Pyramid.
Ennis, one of the team's captains this season, has been an unstoppable all-around player for The Beach this year. He has tallied 35 consecutive games scoring at least 10 or more points, notched 20 or more points in nine games and has had seven double-doubles on the year.
He became the first NCAA Div. I player this season to tally at least 26 points, 15 rebounds and four steals in the 49ers victory over CSUF on 2/13. In LBSU's pivotal victory over UC Davis on Mar. 7, Ennis led the team with a big double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to help the 49ers capture their third-straight Big West title.
The senior contributed in all facets of the team's success this season, ranking in the Big West top 10 statistically in scoring (17.0 ppg - 5th), rebounding (6.9 rpg - 8th), field goal percentage (.491 - 7th), free throw percentage (.847 - 2nd), steals (1.8 - 3rd) and blocked shots (1.4 bpg - 4th). Ennis, who scored in double figures in all 29 games this season, extended that streak to 35 straight dating back to 2011-12.
In its history, LBSU has now had 12 Players of the Year and four Coach of the Year honorees.
The Big West also announced the All-Conference teams and joining Ennis on the first-team was guard Mike Caffey, who has had an impressive year running the point after the graduation of two-time Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware. LBSU is the only school with two players being named to First-team.
Freeland and King were named Honorable Mention as both have been integral to the team's success this season.
LBSU begins the Big West Tournament on Thursday night when they take on No. 8 seed Cal State Fullerton at 6:00 pm at the Honda Center.
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