California State University, Long Beach
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Once Again, Monson Named Conference Coach Of The Year

Published: March 15, 2012

For the second consecutive season, Long Beach State men’s basketball coach Dan Monson earned Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors, having led his squad to a 15-1 Big West Conference (BWC) record and 23-8 overall regular season mark. Under his leadership, the 49ers qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning the BWC post-season tournament last weekend to earn an automatic bid.

The coach of the year award is the third for Monson, who was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1998 while at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.

Also for Monson, it will mark the third different team he has taken to the NCAA Tournament, having led Gonzaga to the Elite Eight in 1999 and the University of Minnesota to the first round in 2005. For Long Beach, 25-8 after two BWC tournament wins, it advances to the NCAA tourney for the ninth time in school history and the first since 2007.

The 49ers team drew a No. 12 seed and will play No. 5 seed University of New Mexico at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. on Thursday (March 15) in the second round of March Madness.

Long Beach State has had back-to-back 20-win seasons under Monson, the first time 49er teams have accomplished that feat since 1972-73 and 1973-74. This year’s success was achieved despite the fact Long Beach played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country.

Monson had a great group of players to work with, beginning with seniors Casper Ware and Larry Anderson, who earned all-conference first-team honors for the second and third time, respectively. Ware, who was the Big West’s Player of the Year (POY) and Defensive Player of the Year in 2010-11, grabbed POY honors again, while Anderson was selected as the conference’s top defender for 2011-12.

Monson Captures Coach Of The Year Honors Again
Long Beach Head Coach Dan Monson (r) celebrates with star guard Casper Ware following Big West Conference Tournament championship game at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

The three major awards highlighted a banner day for the 49ers as all five starters earned all-league recognition. Ware and Anderson were joined on the first team by senior T.J. Robinson, while senior Eugene Phelps claimed second-team all-league honors and freshman James Ennis earned honorable mention accolades. It is the first time since 2005 that three players from the same team earned first-team All-Big West honors and the second straight season Long Beach State has placed five players on the all-league teams. Last year, Ware and Anderson were named first-team all-league, while Robinson was a second-team pick and Phelps and Greg Plater claimed honorable mention honors.

In addition, Ware was named the BWC tournament MVP and was named the United States Basketball Writers Association District IX Player of the Year.