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49ers host North Alabama Saturday to open season

Sophomore Mike Caffey will start at point guard for the 49ers

Nov. 7, 2012

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THE 49ERS ON THE INTERNET: Rob Brender will provide play-by-play for the fourth consecutive season. All games can be heard on

49ERS ON TWITTER: Fans can follow Long Beach State (@LBSUhoops) and coach Dan Monson (@CoachDMonson) on Twitter.

49ERS OPEN SEASON AT HOME AGAINST NORTH ALABAMA: Long Beach State opens the 2012-13 season when it hosts North Alabama on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers and Lions will meet for the first time in the history of the schools. UNA, a Division II school from Florence, Ala., finished last season with a 15-12 record, including a 7-7 record in the Gulf Coast Conference which was good for fifth place. The Lions return one starter and seven letterman off last year's team.

49ERS FACE ONE OF NATION'S TOUGHEST NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULES, INCLUDING GAMES AGAINST FIVE OF THE NATION'S PRESEASON TOP 13 TEAMS: Long Beach State heads into the 2012-13 season with a non-league schedule that few teams can match. The 49ers, who had the nation's top rated non-conference schedule the last three seasons according to a couple websites, will play five teams ranked in the top 13 of both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches preseason polls. The 49ers will face No. 4 Ohio State, No. 9 Syracuse, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 12 Arizona and No. 13 UCLA. LBSU will play 11 games before Big West Conference action begins, with those opponents combining for a 211-124 (63 winning percentage) record last season. Five of the 49ers' 10 opponents won at least 20 games, with three winning more than 30 games.

LONG BEACH STATE PICKED TO WIN THIRD STRAIGHT BIG WEST TITLE: Long Beach State earned 13 first-place votes and 194 points to emerge the favorite for the 2012-13 Big West men's basketball title, according to the annual preseason media poll. The 49ers outdistanced Cal State Fullerton, which accumulated 164 points with six first-place votes, and third-place UC Irvine's 153 points and one first-place vote. The 21-member media panel tabbed new Big West member Hawaii for fourth place with 132 points, followed by UC Santa Barbara in fifth (129). Picking up the lone remaining first-place nod was Pacific, which tallied 113 points for sixth place in the poll.

ENNIS NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG WEST TEAM: James Ennis was named to the preseason All-Big West Conference Team by the league's media. Ennis, the 49ers lone returning starter from the 2011-12 club that finished 25-9 overall, earned All-Big West Honorable Mention recognition last season after averaging 10.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. The 6-7 guard/forward also ranked No. 2 in the conference in steals (1.6 spg).

CAFFEY WILL PILOT THE 49ERS: Sophomore guard Mike Caffey takes the reins of the 49er offense replacing two-time Big West Conference Player of the Year Casper Ware at point guard. As a true freshman, Caffey averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 assists in 21.8 minutes per game. The Riverside, Calif. product finished with a 1.76 assist-to-turnover ratio, handing out 76 assists while only turning the ball over 43 times in 2011-12.

49ERS ALSO RETURN FOUR PLAYERS WITH DIVISION I EXPERIENCE AT LBSU: In addition to James Ennis and Mike Caffey, the 49ers also return two more letterman off the 2011-12 team and two letterman from the 2010-11 team who redshirted last year. Senior Peter Pappageorge and sophomore Nick Shepherd helped LBSU advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2012, while juniors Kyle Richardson and Jerramy King contributed to the 49ers' 2011 NIT team.

49ERS WILL COUNT ON A HANDFUL OF DIVISION I TRANSFERS: While Long Beach State only returns six players with experience playing at the Division I level at LBSU, the 49ers can count on four other players who transferred to Long Beach from other Division I schools. Three of those players, Dan Jennings (West Virginia), Tony Freeland (DePaul) and Keala King (Arizona State) joined the 49er program after spending two years at Power Six Conference schools. The fourth, Edgar Garibay, played at Loyola Marymount. Jennings, who transferred to Long Beach State before last season and redshirted for the 49ers, is eligible to play when LBSU opens the season Saturday. The other three transferred midway through last season and will be eligible after the first semester. Freeland and King have appeals pending with the NCAA which if approved would allow them to play immediately.

TALENTED GROUP OF REDSHIRTS NEWCOMERS ROUND OUT THE 49ERS ROSTER: Sophomore Kris Gulley headlines a group of redshirts and freshmen who should help Long Beach State during the 2012-13 season. Gulley, who transferred to LBSU before the 2011-12 season from a junior college in Kansas, is battling for playing time at the wing position opposite of James Ennis. He is joined in the backcourt by true freshmen Branford Jones, Deng Deng and Javion Watson. While Watson is expected to redshirt, both Jones and Deng should be a part of the 49er rotation. Jones heads into the season as Caffey's backup at point guard and Deng will battle Gulley and Pappageorge for the starting spot at off guard. Redshirt freshman Gatete Djuma and true freshman Brian Smith add depth in the post for the 49ers. Smith is expected to redshirt.

49ERS BOAST NATION'S THIRD LONGEST ACTIVE HOME WINNING STREAK: Long Beach State will take a 22-game home winning streak into the 2012-13 season. The winning streak is tied for the third longest in the country with Kansas and Syracuse, and trails only Kentucky (52) and LIU Brooklyn (27). The 49ers finished the 2011-12 season with 12 straight wins after ending the 2010-11 season with 10 home wins in a row. LBSU has won the 22 games by a total of 14.5 points per game, including a 17.3 point per game margin in last year's 12 wins. The 49ers have also won 17 straight Big West home games dating back to a 74-52 loss to Pacific on Feb. 17, 2010.



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