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St. John's non-conference opponent scouting: Long Beach State 49ers

Good talent and a tough schedule could mean the 49ers pose a real challenge to knock off St. John's at Carnesecca.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Monday, December 22
KenPom Ranking
KenPom Predicted Win %
Queens, N.Y. (Carnesecca Arena)
7:30 p.m.
2013-14 Record
Key Players
Tyler Lamb (6'5", G, Sr.); Michael Caffey (6'0", G, Sr.); Travis Hammonds (6'6", So.)
Key Newcomers
Eric McKnight (6'9", F, Sr.); Justin Bibbins (5'9", PG); Jack Williams (6'8", C)
Key Losses
Dan Jennings (6'9", C)

Long Beach State LogoDon't be fooled by the record; last year's Long Beach State had possibly the toughest non-conference schedule available, facing VCU, Arizona, Kansas State (twice), Michigan, Creighton, Washington, Missouri, USC, and North Carolina State.

That's just brutal.

This year's schedule is no dance through California sand, either. The 49ers face Xavier, Texas, Louisville, San Diego State, Syracuse, UCLA, Kansas State, BYU, Stephen F. Austin and Nevada, in addition to St. John's.

Wing Tyler Lamb should be familiar to St. John's fans - he played on the wing at UCLA under Ben Howland before transferring.

Eric McKnight may be familiar as well - he played with Florida Gulf Coast's "Dunk City" team when they came to St. John's; he was kicked off of FGCU last season.

Veteran coach Dan Monson is working to build a winning culture, and with the talent his team has, this is a key game for St. John's to not let down their guard; this is the kind of team with a realistic chance to win at Carnesecca, even with ugly sweaters in the audience.

Travis Hammonds is expected to step into a shooting role as a tall wing, David Samuels returns as a burly wing senior with limited offensive game, and Branford Jones is a solid defender at guard with scoring punch; A.J. Spencer is out for the season with a knee injury. FYI, Nick Faust, who was considering transferring to St. John's, chose Long Beach State.

The record would indicate that Coach Monson thinks his team could be great; but the stats show a team that shot a lot of two-point jump shots and drew no fouls, and didn't have strong shooting from beyond the arc - kind of like St. John's offense last season.