Oct. 14, 2011
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Dan Monson's Long Beach State 49ers officially opened practice Friday night in preparation for the 2011-12 men's basketball season.
The 49ers return four senior starters and 10 lettermen off a team that won 22 games last season and claimed the Big West Conference regular-season championship with a 14-2 conference record. The four starters--Larry Anderson, Eugene Phelps, T.J. Robinson and Casper Ware--combined to score 71.4 percent of LBSU's points last season, while grabbing 66.7 percent of the rebounds and handing out 71.9 percent of the assists. As a team, the 49ers return 77 percent of their scoring, 83.6 percent of their rebounding and 82.2 percent of their assists.
Ware, who became the first player in Big West Conference history to be named the league's player of the year and defensive player of the year, led the 49er attack averaging 17.2 points and 4.4 assists per game. He needs just 42 steals and 77 assists to become Long Beach State's career leader in both categories.
Anderson is a two-time first-team All-Big West (2009, 2011) selection and ranks among the league's active career leaders in eight of nine statistical categories. He averaged 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a junior, and will challenge Ware for Long Beach State's career lead in steals.
Robinson, a first-team All-Big West pick in 2010 and a second-team selection last year, is back and can become the first player in Big West history to average double-digit rebounds in three straight seasons. He is also one of just six players to average a double-double in each of the last two seasons. Last year, the Connecticut native averaged 13.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He needs just 36 rebounds to become the all-time leader in boards at LBSU and can set a new Big West Conference career record with 255 rebounds.
Phelps, an honorable mention all-league pick last year, is among the Big West's active career leaders in three categories, ranking second in rebounds and blocks and seventh in scoring. He needs just 290 points to join his three classmates in the Long Beach State 1,000-point club.
The 49ers also return six other lettermen who contributed to the team's Big West title last year. Senior Edis Dervisevic, voted a captain along with Ware and Anderson, averaged 15.2 minutes per game in 2011-12 and will be joined by fellow returners senior Corey Jackson, senior Sean Starkey, junior Kyle Richardson, junior Jerramy King and junior Mike Vantrimpont. Nick Shepherd, a 6-foot-9 athletic post player, redshirted for the 49ers and should challenge for playing time behind Phelps and Robinson.
Monson added a talented group of recruits to the roster with the hopes of adding depth to an already talented team. Junior college transfers James Ennis, Kris Gulley and Peter Pappageorge bring some experience to the team, while freshman Michael Caffey and Shaquille Hunter are talented and young.
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