With only two losing seasons in 31 years, the Long Beach State women's basketball program is one of the most successful and tradition-rich in NCAA history. That's nice, but here's the problem: Those hard times hit the last two seasons.
Well, Coach Glenn McDonald is confident the down days are done.
"The players believe they're going to have a very, very good year," McDonald said, "and that helps a whole lot."
McDonald, a former 49er basketball standout, is in his fourth season as the women's coach. His record is 41-44.
Last season, Long Beach was 11-17 and tied for seventh in the conference at 9-9. The biggest problem was turnovers--about 25 per game. Through two preseason games, McDonald noticed a marked improvement.
"The big thing now is that we're really being patient with what we're doing," McDonald said. "We're going to have more scoring opportunities because we're being more selective with our passes."
Junior point Akia Hardy (5-6) made strides last season while playing with a broken finger. Freshman Sarah Davis (5-6) is expected to be Hardy's backup.
Long Beach had a successful inside game and should again with the return of center/forward Melissa Gower. Gower, 6 feet 2, averaged 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior. Gower's game is still developing, McDonald said.
"I'm expecting a lot of leadership from Melissa," he said. "She'll be a better offensive player and a better rebounder. She has a great opportunity to be player of the year in the conference."
Sophomore forward Toby Metoyer (6-2) should help Gower with rebounding and inside scoring. She didn't play last season after transferring from Duquesne. Junior center Ja'net Davis (6-4) will dominate if she becomes more aggressive, McDonald said.
McDonald knew he could count on inside points last season, but the outside game was shaky--at best. Improved conditioning, and experience, should help.
"Last year we had to rely only on the inside game, now I know we can go inside out," McDonald said. "We have people who are very confident shooting the ball."
A big contribution is expected from senior shooting guard Michelle Miller (5-8). Miller averaged 4.6 points a season ago. She is an intense player whom McDonald wants to shoot more.
Junior forward Kim Barfield (5-11) is used to playing near the basket, but McDonald wants her to improve her dribbling and shooting skills. She averaged 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Sophomore center Adara Newidouski (5-10) and sophomore guard Aimee Periolat (5-6) provide help as reserves.
Long Beach State Facts and Figures
No Player Pos Hgt Yr Hometown (High School) 00 *Melissa Gower C-F 6-2 Sr Lakewood (Lakewood) 4 *Kim Barfield F 5-11 Jr Lakewood (Lynwood/Oregon St.) 12 *Akia Hardy G 5-6 Jr Lakewood (Lakewood) 14 *Michelle Miller G 5-8 Sr San Jose (De Anza College) 21 *Aimee Periolat G 5-6 So Huntington Beach (Marina) 22 *Ja'net Davis C 6-4 Jr Lynwood (Lynwood) 23 Sarah Davis G 5-6 Fr Tustin (Tustin) 24 *Bernetta James G 5-10 Sr Carson (Carson) 31 Toby Metoyer F-C 6-2 So Lakewood (Lakewood/Duquesne) 32 *Adara Newidouski F 5-10 So Dana Point (Dana Hills) 33 Amy Heaton F 6-1 Fr Lakewood (Lakewood) 34 Tomika Cantley F 6-1 Fr Gardena (Gardena) 44 Michelle Esparza G 5-10 Jr Monterey Park (El Rancho/CS Northridge)
* Lettermen returning (8)
Coach: Glenn McDonald.
Assistants: Trise Jackson, Matt Ruiz, Sharon Turner.
Date Opponent Time Nov. 27 Louisiana Tech 2:00 Dec. 5 Southern Utah 7:30 Dec. 6 Loyola Marymount 7:30 Dec. 19 at Colorado 6:00 Dec. 21 at Colorado State 6:00 Dec. 28 USC 7:30 Dec. 29 N.C. Charlotte 7:30 Jan. 3 at Nevada Las Vegas 7:30 Jan. 5 at New Mexico State 6:30 Jan. 8 Hawaii 3:00 Jan. 10 San Jose State 7:30 Jan. 13 at Nevada 7:00 Jan. 15 at Pacific 2:00 Jan. 18 CS Northridge 7:30 Jan. 22 UC Santa Barbara 3:00 Jan. 27 UC Irvine 7:30 Jan. 31 CS Fullerton 7:30 Feb. 3 at San Jose State 7:30 Feb. 5 at Hawaii 3:00 Feb. 10 Pacific 7:30 Feb. 12 Nevada 2:00 Feb. 19 at UC Santa Barbara 2:00 Feb. 24 at CS Fullerton 7:00 Feb. 26 at UC Irvine 2:00 Mar. 2 New Mexico State 7:30 Mar. 4 Nevada Las Vegas 7:30 Mar. 7-11 *Big West Tourn. TBA
All times are P.M. and Pacific
* at Las Vegas