PORTLAND, Ore. — Dan Monson went down this road more than a decade ago, bringing a talented smaller-conference school with a name no one knew how to pronounce to the NCAA tournament and began a string of success for that school with an unforgettable tourney run.
Long Beach State is easier to pronounce than Gonzaga. But the 12th-seeded Long Beach State group Monson brings to Thursday's West Region second-round matchup against No. 5 seed New Mexico (27-6) could be just as dangerous.
Led by Big West Conference player of the year Casper Ware, the 49ers (25-8) faced one of the most difficult schedules in the country in the hopes of getting the types of challenges that would be of a benefit when March arrived.