After taking care of their first two opponents, Pitt returns to action Wednesday night against a tough opponent in Big West favorites Long Beach State.
Team: Long Beach State 49ers
Record: (0-0 Big West, 1-0)
Good Wins: N/A
Bad Losses: N/A
The 49ers are a veteran team, returning four starters from a team that went 22-12 and won the Big West regular season title before being beaten in the conference tournament by rival UC Santa Barbara. They went on to lose in the first round of the NIT to Washington State. Long Beach State was a high-scoring outfit in 2010-11, averaging 76 points a game while shooting the ball at 45% from the field. Problem was that they weren’t that great at stopping the other team from scoring, either, allowing 70 points a game.
The backcourt of the 49ers will be led by seniors Casper Ware and Larry Anderson. Ware was one of the top shooters in the Big West, averaging just over 17 points a game. He is a slasher that will drive the ball into the lane and get good shots off in the paint. He's also a threat to set up teammates, averaging around four assists a game. Ware is also a good defender, averaging just under two steals a game. Anderson is Long Beach State’s version of Brad Wanamaker. He can do a bit of everything for the 49ers and was on the Big West’s leader board in rebounding (7th), assists (9th), steals (1st), and field goal percentage (4th), all while averaging 14 points a game.
The frontcourt will be handled by seniors Eugene Phelps and T.J. Robinson. Robinson is a very capable scorer, averaging 13.5 points per game last season along with ten rebounds. Phelps is a banger down low in the post who averaged around ten points and seven rebounds a game. He will be battling Dante Taylor under the basket.
The last starting spot will be either James Ennis or Kris Gulley. Both are junior college transfers, 6’7", and capable of playing well in the interior. But if need be, they can also move to the perimeter when the 49ers want to have a three-guard lineup - especially when Gulley is in the game as he was a great outside shooter in the junior college ranks. In Long Beach State’s opening win against Idaho, Ennis was the starter.
Coming off the bench, freshman Shaquille Hunter was a great shooter in high school and will only bolster a potent 49er offense. Should Coach Dan Monson choose to go for a bigger lineup, the team’s sixth man Edis Dervisevic , a 6’8" forward, will be sent out. Dervisevic was injured in preseason workouts, but played 20 minutes in the team’s opener. Another name to watch is guard Michael Caffey, who played 25 minutes against Idaho.
Long Beach State will not be intimidated when they come to the Pete on Wednesday. They’ve played at North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, and Kansas recently and will play at Louisville and against Xavier this season. They are an experienced group of players that Pitt cannot take lightly or they could very easily pull the upset. An area of concern for Long Beach State: the free throw line. Like Pitt, LBSU has their own troubles when it comes to the charity stripe, shooting under 65% from the line against Idaho. Pitt could have the edge on the glass on Wednesday. Against Idaho, the 49ers only outrebounded the Vandals 31-27.
After a tight one against Rider, this game might be another test for the Panthers.