Dan Monson may not have gotten the NCAA Tournament win he hoped for Thursday afternoon, but the now-former Long Beach State head coach isn’t letting an early exit cloud his feelings about having received one more crack at the “Big Dance.”

“My stance this week doesn’t change,” Monson told reporters after the Beach’s loss to No. 2-seeded Arizona. “I’m the luckiest guy in this tournament and in the world to do what I got to do today with these guys.”

Monson was fired by Long Beach State 10 days ago following 17 seasons with the program, but he was permitted to stay with his team through the end of postseason play.

In one of the more remarkable stories of March thus far, the Beach unexpectedly caught fire to end the season, winning the Big West championship and earning an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. That gave Monson the chance to remain with his players even longer than anticipated.

Long Beach State kept up with the heavily favored Wildcats in the first half of Thursday’s action but folded late in a 85-65 loss at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

Monson’s squad shot just 33.3% from the field and 17.6% from deep in the program’s first tournament appearance since 2012.

“He’s created a family,” Beach guard Jadon Jones said of Monson following the loss. “He brought us all here. We’re all here ‘cause of him. We all might not be playing for him again, but we’re going to keep in touch, we’re going to see him, we’re going to try to be involved as much as possible.

“Obviously it hurts, this being our last game with him,” he continued. “But it’s not truly a goodbye. Like I said, we’re a family. That’s never going to go away because love is unconditional. Doesn’t matter how far he goes, I go, the other 13 guys in the locker room go, it’s not goodbye, it’s just more of a I’ll see you when I see you, to be continued, as he said in the locker room.”

Monson previously piloted Gonzaga to an Elite Eight berth in 1999 and spent just over seven seasons at Minnesota before landing in Long Beach.

The 62-year-old expressed a desire to keep coaching to reporters Thursday, though he acknowledged that it’s “not all entirely up to me.”

“I hope I have a challenge, but I’m OK if I don’t,” Monson said “It’s not going to define me as a person. That’s one thing these two weeks have taught me. My family and my friends, my players, are going to define my happiness.”