Long Beach State Vs. NC State Preview: Turmoil And Turnover, Or, How To Sink A Program In Two Years

Nate Shron

LBSU @ StatSheet
2013 Stats
2014 Roster
2014 Schedule

LBSU Offense 12-13
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.1 100
Turnover Rate 20.8 232
Off Reb Rate 32.1 151
FTA/FGA 36.3 164
LBSU Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 45.0 302
Turnover Rate 19.2 211
Off Reb Rate 30.8 192
FTA/FGA 33.0 297

Two years removed from a run to the NCAA tournament with a team that was legitimately capable of winning a game or two in said tourney, head coach Dan Monson's program is in a precarious spot. Last season wasn't an epic disaster in terms of wins and losses--the 49ers finished 19-14 and were 14-4 in league play--but dissension within the ranks probably made that record worse than it should have been. It also cost the program a handful of players during the offseason, including three guys who would have been contributors this year.

Two of the players who left, Keala King and Tony Freeland, combined to make 41 starts. A third, Deng Deng, averaged 15 minutes per game off the bench. Leading scorer James Ennis graduated, as did Peter Pappageorge, who in addition to having an excellent name was an efficient role player.

The trouble a year ago seemed to result from the fact that Monson tried to use several transfers to expedite his roster rebuild (his 2012 tourney team was loaded with seniors). He's doing it again, this time with a bunch of juco transfers. All the turnover left LBSU with two returning starters; now the rotation includes four guys who were playing juco ball last year, two of them in the starting lineup. Tough circumstances.

So this was probably not the best time to schedule a tough out-of-conference slate. LBSU has already played Arizona, Kansas State (twice), Creighton, Michigan, and Virginia Commonwealth. Only one of those games was at home; they were all losses.

At the offensive end, this team profiles similarly to its predecessor, at least in three of the four factors. The 49ers' shooting accuracy is way down, no doubt it part because of the rough schedule. That should start to rise once they get into league play.

Starters

Michael Caffey (6-0, 175) -- Caffey already had a history as a high-usage player, and with the overhaul of nearly the entire rotation, it's not surprising that he's taking on a higher workload this season. It's probably a little too high, given his 93.6 offensive rating, but then again, Monson doesn't have a whole lot of alternatives. He is shooting 37.8% from deep but just 42% from two. His 54.3% shooting from the free throw line doesn't help, either. He does have an impressive assist rate, and he's a threat to steal the ball.

Branford Jones (6-1, 185) -- He got to play in all of one game last year before an injury cost him his debut campaign, and of late, the team has increasingly relied on him to help run the offense. His FGAs are split about 50-50 between twos and threes at this point; his clear strength early is from the outside. His assist rate is decent, though like Caffey, he's also have trouble making free throws. He doesn't figure to be nearly as involved offensively as Caffey.

A.J. Spencer (6-3, 200) -- While he is off to a 3-of-20 start from deep, he's been fine othwerwise, hitting 55.1% of his twos and 86.4% of his freebies. Based on his juco stats, that FT% is not an aberration. Dude needs to cut down on turnovers but other than that there ain't much of note one way or the other.

David Samuels (6-7, 225) -- Eighteen-of-49 from two and 3-of-15 from three so far, which is, uh, it could be better. Good offensive rebounder, solid on the defensive boards as well.

Dan Jennings (6-9, 245) -- When in doubt, put this man on the line. Last year: 46.3% from the stripe. This year: 39.3%. He is a career 54% shooter inside the arc, so the choice is pretty clear. Gotta make him earn the pair at the line. Jennings is an outstanding rebounder at both ends, and easily the best shot discourager among the starting five. If he could just make a dang free throw, he'd be considerably more valuable--his FT rates have been good.

Bench

Kris Gulley (6-7, 195), McKay LaSalle (6-3, 190), Christian Griggs-Williams (6-7, 260), Nick Shepherd (6-9, 220). After a decent season shooting the ball a season ago, Gulley is off to an ice cold start to 2013-14, hitting only 11 of 49 field goal attempts. I guess the good news is that there's nowhere to go but up. Shepherd has played sparingly over the course of 2+ seasons, and when he is on the floor, he hardly has any impact on the offense at all (in a positive way).

LaSalle is a three-point specialist (so far, not a good one), while Griggs-Williams ... is pretty tall.

LBSU Defense 12-13
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.9 259
Turnover Rate 19.5 199
Off Reb Rate 36.1 323
FTA/FGA 32.1 79
LBSU Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 52.4 255
Turnover Rate 18.3 177
Off Reb Rate 35.8 282
FTA/FGA 38.2 132

If your FG% defense is gonna be terrible, you had best either force a lot of turnovers or lock down the defensive glass to slow the bleeding; otherwise, you're are going to get shredded. This group isn't disruptive--their steal and block rates rank in the 240-250 range, leading in part to some horrific interior defense. Then there's the poor defensive rebounding.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 13.

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