Less Than A Week After Being Effectively Fired, Long Beach State Coach Dan Monson Has His Team In The Big Dance

Long Beach

The sons of Beaches actually pulled it off.

Long Beach State is going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, and they’re doing it with the lame duckiest of lame duck coaches you’ll ever see. A late-night 74-70 win over UC Davis in the Big West tourney final got LBSU their ticket to the Big Dance.

And I thought the coolest coach-related story among the mid-major Cinderellas was going to be Vermont’s John Becker leading the Catamounts to March Madness with his arm in a sling. Turns out, the story of Beach coach Dan Monson is even better. Monson invoked Jim Harbaugh after his squad’s win to drive home the point about how much he’s enjoying life.

I suppose in a sense that there hasn’t been any pressure on Monson. They ended the regular season on a five-game skid, capped by a 10-point loss to UC Davis of all teams. He knew he was bowing out, but probably figured it’d happen in anticlimactic fashion during the conference tournament. Instead, his players rallied around him, and now Long Beach State is one win away from possibly advancing to the Round of 32. I say that because ESPN projects them to be a 15th seed. We’ll see if they get saddled with a First Four bid. Depends how Sunday’s action plays out.

You might’ve noticed that I haven’t made direct reference to Long Beach State’s mascot/given team name. That’s because all of us should’ve seen the signs that Monson’s spunky, upstart band of misfits were destined for March Madness.

Are you ready for this? To use the last game as an example, let me construct a most exciting sentence: “The UC Davis Aggies saw their NCAA Tournament hopes shattered in a loss to the Long Beach State Beach.”

That’s right. Long Beach State’s team name is Beach.

Just Beach.

What’s the billion-dollar movie that captivated America this past year? Barbie. Who was the little underdog that could in that movie who took control of his own destiny? Ryan Gosling’s Ken.

What is Ken’s job? It’s. Just. Beach.

Whatever approach Dan Monson was using earlier this season clearly wasn’t working or fully resonating with his players. Only when he reached his point of crisis, and when his very livelihood was threatened, did Monson valmorphanize into a Tom Izzo-esque unstoppable force in the month of March who inspired his team to be at their best when it mattered most. An abrupt, rapid basketball evolution right before our eyes.

Monson must’ve simplified the game, let go, and let Beach. And let Beach be Beach.

That should be society’s prevailing paradigm going forward. When in doubt, Just Beach. Alrighty then. Enjoy some highlights from Beach’s win. Happy Selection Sunday, Beach.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock