We’re so happy to be saying goodbye tonight to 2020, the year that took and took and took. The Long Beach State men’s basketball team will be returning on New Year’s Day and Jan. 2 for a pair of Big West-opening contests against Cal State Bakersfield in the Walter Pyramid at 4 p.m.
The Beach haven’t looked that good this year, with a blowout 45-point loss to the University of San Francisco. But honestly, at the end of this year, how good a team is seems so much less important than how they persevere through these bizarre times. The Long Beach State men’s team, for example, had a staff member test positive earlier this month, on the day the team was supposed to play its rescheduled game against UCLA.
The result caused a two-week “pause” for the team with players and coaches going back into quarantine. The scant workouts they were allowed involved a coach sitting in a marked off “coaching box” at center court in the Pyramid while two players shot baskets just for practice, one on either side of the court.
“Everyone is sacrificing a lot, the kids are sacrificing a lot to be able to play,” said LBSU men’s coach Dan Monson.
Consider that as the team prepares for its conference opener, the team has had fewer than 10 full-contact practices together. They’re not the only ones who’ve dealt with adversity, of course. The Long Beach State women’s team was the only program functioning in the entire city during the men’s team’s two-week pause. The women have been impressive, getting off to a 3-1 start with a six-point defeat at USC the only blemish on their record.
But Murphy’s Law has governed the women’s program as well. The team had to cancel a game on the day it was scheduled due to a player having brief contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19. A few rounds of negative tests later and the team was back in action, blowing out UC Riverside 74-44 in their Big West opener, the team’s biggest win in five years.
But the very next night, as they prepared to host Riverside for the second half of the teams’ two-game series, rain poured down above the Pyramid, and some poured inside, as well. The building is known to have occasional leaks (sometimes it’s just condensation inside the ceiling dripping down), but they’re usually off-court. This was on the floor, right in front of the visitor’s bench. After mopping and cleaning and waiting an hour, officials decided the leak was too severe to play the game and sent both teams home.
Only in 2020: an indoor rainout.
The two teams played again at Riverside the next day, where the Beach won again. They’ll be on the road in Bakersfield trying to remain unbeaten in Big West play Friday and Saturday, as the city and its sports fans celebrate a New Year, one that will hopefully make a lot more sense to all of us.