PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — No. 9 Pitt (2-0) hosts Long Beach State in a good measuring stick game early on in the non-conference schedule.
While you may not have heard of LBSU, it’s worth taking a look at what the 49ers present, as they’re the best competition Pitt has faced in the young season and will likely be one of Pitt’s quality non-conference opponents come season’s end.
LBSU is 1-0 this season after a 69-61 win against Idaho. The 49ers were picked as an overwhelming favorite to win the Big West Conference for the second consecutive season.
Long Beach State advanced to the NIT last year after finishing 22-11 (14-2 Big West) overall and captured the regular season league title. The 49ers lost the Big West title game to UC-Santa Barbara.
Four starters return for LBSU with preseason All-America selection and 2010-11 Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware leading the group. Ware dropped 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals on Idaho in the season opener. At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he is a bit undersized but can shoot, especially from 3-point range.
Ware will be a good test for Pitt’s perimeter defense, which struggled against a good shooting team in Rider on Sunday.
Seniors Eugene Phelps and T.J. Robinson are experienced in the front court and, once again, can test Pitt, which is rather inexperienced down low outside of Nasir Robinson and Dante Taylor. Phelps and Robinson combined for 21 points and 17 rebounds against Idaho.
Guard Larry Anderson is the other returning starter. He has yet to miss a shot from the field — a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 7-for-7 overall.
Long Beach State is a team that will test Pitt. Outside of Ashton Gibbs, Tray Woodall and Nasir Robinson there appear to be a lot of unkowns to start the year.
LBSU is a team that can start to show us where Pitt’s strengths and weaknesses lie.