The Man behind the Monson Maniacs

BY: DEVIN UGLAND

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Before Dan Monson made his way out west, to the sun and sand of the shores of Long Beach, he made a name for himself roaming the northern part of the States. Monson has coaching in his blood.

His father, Don, held head coaching jobs at the University of Oregon and the University of Idaho; he also assisted under legendary coach Jud Heathcote at Michigan State.

Even though he grew up watching his father teach the game of basketball at such a high level, the younger Monson didn't immediately follow in the footsteps of his elder.

Monson played football as a freshman at the University of Idaho, but a knee injury derailed his career on the gridiron. At that point, he turned his attention to the sidelines. Monson graduated from Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, and then accepted the head basketball coaching position at Oregon City High School.

His first full-time coaching gig was back in the Pacific Northwest at Gonzaga University, where he was named associate head coach under Dan Fitzgerald for the 1994-1995 season.

Monson landed his first head-coaching job when he took over the helm at Gonzaga. In his first season as the headman for the Bulldogs, his team posted a 28-10 overall record, and 10-4-conference record.

His second season only added good things to his coaching resume. Monson led the Bulldogs to a 28-7 overall record, 12-2 in the conference. Monson's Gonzaga squad won the West Coast Conference tournament, and secured a No. 10 seed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.

Monson's next stop was at the University of Minnesota where he spent the better part of eight seasons. He guided the Gophers to a respectable record. After a 2-5 start to the 2006-2007 season, coach Monson resigned as head coach at Minnesota.

His obvious enjoyment for teaching and coaching the game of basketball led Monson to a new life at Cal State Long Beach. The 2007-08 season was his first as the 49ers' head-coach, and it didn't go very well. The ‘Niners struggled mightily, posting a 6-25 record, finishing last in the Big West Conference. The next year, Monson's ‘Niners greatly improved, they finished with a 15-15 record, 10-6 in conference play. In his third season at The Beach, Monson led the 49ers to a 17-16 overall record, and a third-place finish in the Big West with an 8-8-conference record.

Last season was where Monson's recruiting ability and coaching prowess finally came to full fruition. The ‘Niners posted a 22-12 overall record and finished first in the Big West at 14-2. The 49ers lost to UC Santa Barbara in the Big West tournament championship game, that if they won, would have sent them to the NCAA tournament. The Beach had to settle for an invitation to the NIT tournament instead, and lost their first round game to Washington State.

In an interview with the Daily 49er, Monson said that he is hopeful that his bench can produce more this year.

"You always come into the year hopeful that when you have 13 guys on scholarship that they can all contribute," Monson said. "Last year, we got down to seven or eight guys that we really trusted.'

This season could be one of the best in the history of Long Beach State basketball. The ‘Niners will start four seniors, all who come battle tested. Their non-conference schedule is considered one of the toughest in the nation, with games against San Diego State, North Carolina, Xavier, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Kansas – all of these teams were ranked in the top 25 in the nation at some point last year.

Monson said he sets his team up with such difficult non-conference schedules because in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

"In the past with other team's (I've coached), especially Gonzaga, had success playing hard schedules," said Monson. "I think for us to elevate our program to the next level, we have to play the teams from that level."

With the anticipation of a great season for our 49er basketball team, we wanted to help the student body get to know coach Monson in a more personal fashion. Now you know the background of the headman for Long Beach State basketball, so here is Dan Monson, off the record:

 

D: If I were to look at your iPod, what song would have the most plays? M: My 11-year-old son is in charge of putting the stuff on the iPod, so (laughs) probably the Black Eyed Peas.

D: Mac or PC? M: I am a Mac guy.

D: Favorite movie of all time? M: "Caddyshack."

D: You get to choose three toppings on a pizza, what would you choose? M: Pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese.

D: What's the last restaurant you ordered "to-go" from? M: I ordered subway coming home from the Houston airport on my way home.

D: What's your idea of a date? M: My wife and I with no kids. With four kids it's really hard for us to go anywhere alone.

D: If you were a dog, what breed would you be? M: A mut.

D: Guilty pleasure on TV? M: "Two and a Half Men."

D: If you could drive any car, past or present, what would it be? M: You know I have a Chrysler 300 right now, and I really like it, I've only had it about a month or so, so I'd stay with it.

D: Favorite Rocky movie? M: "Rocky" one. The first one's the best, so all the other imitations after that aren't any good.

D: Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien? M: Neither one, I'm way asleep by then. I used to be a David Letterman guy when I could stay awake that late.

D: Beatles or Stones? M: (Pause) Beatles.