Long Beach State men’s basketball delayed after He-Said/He-Said dispute with UCLA

Monday night was supposed to be the return of organized sports in Long Beach, with the Long Beach State men’s basketball team hitting the 405 to play the Bruins at UCLA. A lot of people were excited since no Long Beach team has been able to play an organized game since the COVID-19 shutdown began March 13.

But like so many things this inside-out year, things didn’t go according to plan. While the Long Beach team was on the bus, fully dressed in uniform to avoid having to use a different venue’s locker room, word came that UCLA had called the game off. UCLA’s statement strongly suggested Long Beach State had been responsible for the positive test.

“Tonight’s men’s basketball home opener has been postponed out of an abundance of caution based on COVID-19 protocol within the Long Beach State program,” said the Bruin athletic department statement on the matter, a statement the department declined to elaborate on.

Long Beach State coaches and officials strongly disagree with that assessment, saying they’d had six consecutive days of negative tests throughout the program.

“We were ready to play the game,” LBSU athletic director Andy Fee said. “For whatever reason, they didn’t feel comfortable within the agreement that we had made with them, but we’ve cleared everything with our medical people and we would’ve loved to have played the game tonight.”

Fee and head coach Dan Monson said they had clearance from the LBSU medical staff and the city of Long Beach’s Health Department to play the game.

“I don’t fault them or us, this is just how we live,” Monson said. “There’s so many things that have to be cleared from each health board and each medical staff.”

Reiterating the point that there’s no positive case or outbreak on the Beach’s roster, Fee said Long Beach State will continue to practice and prepare for its new season opener, a road trip to Loyola Marymount on Friday, with a home opener in the Walter Pyramid scheduled for Sunday against Seattle U.

This is not the first game that UCLA has canceled unexpectedly—Cal State Fullerton women’s team was sent home after having already arrived at UCLA. It’s a puzzling situation given the information being given out by both teams. Fee said that fans can expect more strangeness and uncertainty this season.

“Every school and every team is going to have to make their own decisions,” Fee added. “I think you’re going to see more of this because the different conferences and teams have different standards and protocols and tests… Trying to get everyone on the same page is not as easy as it sounds.”

The women’s team, meanwhile, had a third nonconference opponent back out of a scheduled game, and they’ll no longer be hosting William Jessup on Monday. They now have only a Dec. 22 trip to USC on their nonconference schedule.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.