Long Beach State reaches NCAA tournament with head coach who was fired 5 days earlier

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By journalsofus.com

SAN DIEGO, CA – NOVEMBER 14: Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson sits courtside during the first half of the college basketball game between Long Beach State and San Diego State at Viejas Arena on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 in San Diego, California. pointed to.  ,  (Photo by Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dan Monson isn’t done yet at Long Beach State. (Photo by Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Long Beach State is dancing, with a head coach who just got fired.

The 49ers clinched a berth in perhaps the most intriguing NCAA Tournament in the country with a 74-70 victory over UC Davis in the Big West championship game on Saturday. The win came just five days after the firing of head coach Dan Monson.

Importantly, Long Beach State officials opted to make Monson the team’s coach for the remainder of the season, its only Big West Tournament appearance, after an 18-14 regular season and entering a five-game skid this week. Monson also acknowledged the need for a replacement in the statement announcing the “mutual separation”:

“I am proud of what we have accomplished on and off the court, but now it is time for a new voice for the program. I wish the best for a special university and a tremendous group of student athletes. “Personally, I’m also excited about what’s next for the Monson family and me.”

Instead, the 49ers defeated UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UC Davis on consecutive days to earn the program’s first March Madness since 2012, as college basketball doesn’t always need to make sense.

Lassina Traore and Marcus Tsohonis both posted 25 points against the Aggies, while Aboubacar Traore had seven points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Monson, who has also served as head coach for Gonzaga and Minnesota, is in his 17th season as head coach in Long Beach. With only one NCAA Tournament appearance prior to this season, he has a record of 275–272 with the program.

His career began with success at Gonzaga, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 1999, and he feels there is still more coaching ahead of him, As he told ESPN,

“I got a ’99 run at Gonzaga, but, as Mark Few wrote to me, “Why don’t we make a run in the first year and a run in the last?” But I don’t think it’s my last. I’m done with coaching. Love. I love teams. I need a new challenge. This is life, it’s on to the next chapter.”

It seems unlikely that Long Beach State will change its stance even after making the NCAA Tournament, but Monson isn’t worried about a situation that is simultaneously becoming more awkward and more fun:

“God has blessed me with a great career and it’s great to coach these kids. When Jim Harbaugh says who has it better than him, someone needs to tell him Dan Monson.”

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