Hawaii travels to face challenging Long Beach State

Jan. The 14-nation fastball team faced travel delays that could affect tonight’s game at SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The nation’s fastest basketball team endured a travel delay that could affect tonight’s game at Simplify Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Long Beach State was scheduled to arrive in Honolulu Friday afternoon ahead of tonight’s Big West game against Hawaii. But due to engine trouble, the nonstop flight from Los Angeles International Airport was delayed from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Pacific time, which would have meant it would have arrived on the coast at 3 a.m. Hawaii time today.

“We look like an NBA team,” coach Dan Monson said of the Peaches, 8-9 overall and 2-3 in the Big West. “Get into the game and see what happens.”

If another delay cuts preparation time further, Beach League officials may be asked to consider postponing the game until Sunday night.

“For us, (Sunday) will work,” Monson said. “For them, I’m not sure.” The Rainbow Warriors play at Cal State Northridge on Monday.

Monson said the initial plan was to go to Hawaii on Thursday. But the beach trip plans had to be shelved a day after Cal accepted a request to move the game against Poly from Wednesday to Thursday. Due to heavy rains and flooding in California, Cal Poly wanted to wait an extra day to travel the 220-mile route between its San Luis Obispo campus and Long Beach.

Beach gathered at their home court, the Walter Pyramid, early Friday morning when they were told there would be a 13-hour delay in departure. There was an opportunity to travel in two groups. “But if one doesn’t go, you have half the team, half the team is there,” Monson said. “We don’t want to do that.”

Instead, Beach held a practice Friday morning at the Walter Pyramid. They reconvened on Friday evening and then set to drive to LAX.

“It is what it is,” Monson said. “Our basketball problems are worse than our travel problems.”

According to Kenpom.com, Beach’s average of 14.7 seconds per possession is the shortest among 351 Division I teams. Coastal averages 73.0 possessions per 40 minutes. But Monson said LBSU has been slowed by injuries and inconsistent defense.

Joel Murray, the league’s top-scoring point guard last season, missed the game against Cal Poly because of a wrist injury. His presence in today’s game is doubtful. Guard Marcus Sohonis is sidelined with an ankle injury. Beach were focused on tightening their defense in the league competition, even before injuries to two leading players.

In 12 non-league games, opponents are averaging 71.4 points on 40.1% shooting. In the first four of five Big West games, opponents have scored 79.8 points on 43.9 % shooting, including 35.6 % on 3s.

“We came into the league and we weren’t ready defensively to be where we need to be to compete in this league,” Monson said. “We’ve done nothing but try to make amends the last 10 days, two weeks. I think the injuries (approach), at least in these guys’ minds, is the only chance for that defense to get better, no matter who’s out there.”

Forwards Lassina Dreyer and Abubakar Beach grabbed 47.2% of the rebounds, including 59.3% of the offensive boards.

“But it’s a personal thing,” Monson said. “The guards and the wings think those two guys are going to get every rebound. At the end of the day, it’s not going to be an advantage. We’ve got to be better (overall) with those two guys rebounding.”

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