Fired Monson, LBSU secure improbable NCAA bid



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For Dan Monson, it ain’t over yet.

Six days after he was dismissed by the team, Monson led Long Beach State to the NCAA tournament with a 74-70 win over UC Davis on Saturday in the Big West tournament title game, adding at least a few more days to his tenure.

“God has blessed me with a great career, and these kids have been awesome to coach,” Monson said after the game. “When [Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh] says, ‘Who has it better than us?’ someone needs to tell him, ‘Coach Monson [does].'”

On Monday, Long Beach State announced it had “mutually” parted ways with Monson after 17 seasons, but the school agreed to allow him to coach the rest of the campaign. After LBSU lost five in a row entering the Big West tournament, there were few reasons to believe the season would last much longer for Monson and his crew.

But a run through the conference tournament now guarantees that LBSU will hear its name called on Selection Sunday for the second NCAA tournament appearance of Monson’s tenure, amid improbable odds and unique circumstances.

Saturday’s win came just a week after Long Beach State capped a five-game losing streak with an 88-78 home loss to the Aggies.

“We had an up-and-down year,” Monson said. “And they came in here and they played for each other.”

Entering the Big West tournament, Long Beach State had been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in America at 31.2% (309th in the country). But the Beach connected on 38% of their 3-point attempts combined in wins over UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UC Davis in a three-day stretch, and now Monson, who said in a statement Monday that the program “needs a new voice,” will continue coaching.

March is always a tough time for coaches on the hot seat. A handful of coaches in men’s and women’s basketball have recently been forced to address their dismissals in news conferences. In other situations, a struggling coach will sometimes announce at the start of a season — or a school will announce on their behalf — that the upcoming season will be that coach’s final campaign.

LBSU’s move to announce Monson’s dismissal before the conference tournament but still allow him to coach has become even more bizarre now that Monson has actually beat the odds and extended his season.

Despite LBSU’s announcement, Monson said he hasn’t lost his passion for coaching and is ready to make his next move.

“I don’t think this is my last year,” he said. “I love coaching. … I need a new challenge. That’s life. It’s on to the next chapter.”

Yes, but just not yet.



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