The film session last week was a cringeworthy review of bad boxouts, poor spacing and defenders standing flat-footed. In other words, Long Beach State coach Dan Monson told his team, The kind of plays that get coaches fired.

This week, its easy to laugh at that story, even if some of the smiles come between the tears.

In the wake of all that basketball badness that Long Beach put on film, to say nothing of the five-game losing streak that came with it, Monson did, in fact, get his walking papers last week.

That he was preparing his team for its first-round game in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against Arizona a team coached by Tommy Lloyd, who got his start on the sidelines thanks to Monson himself is a testament to the resilience of this coaching lifer and players who took responsibility for the meltdown.

And if Mach Madness is Americas annual chance to celebrate the improbable, or sometimes impossible, then consider the 62-year-old coach to have already cut down the nets before a single shot goes up this week.

Ive reflected this week that, I dont have a job, but I dont need one, Monson said. Ive got everything I want with my family, with my players, with my friends.

Monsons fate was sealed after the five-game skid dropped the Beach the nickname for the school that hasnt won an NCAA game since 1973 to 18-14, its chances of a run to March Madness barely a blip, even in a conference with no true powerhouses.

It was portrayed as a mutual decision to part ways. Monson said the first-year athletic director, Bobby Smitheran, told him coaching out the final few weeks of the season would give him a chance for a well-deserved sendoff.

The athletic director said it will be a celebration and you can go coach, Monson said. I asked him Have you ever seen that work?

In this case, it did.

After three wins in three nights last week, the Beach found themselves cutting down the nets at the Big West Tournament, then waiting to see where theyd go for a most-unexpected trip to the NCAA tourney.

We felt like failures, junior guard Jadon Jones said of the tear-stained meeting when Monson told the team he had been let go. I know its a business and they have to make business decisions, but to do it before the tournament, it felt like theyd given up on us. And we knew we had to prove them wrong.

The chip was on their shoulder. But to portray this as us against the world isnt quite accurate.

Monsons dinner when the team arrived Tuesday night was with none other than Lloyd, along with Mark Few of Gonzaga, who is also in Salt Lake City this week. Back in 1999, Monson brought Lloyd on as a grad assistant a few weeks before he left for more money and a bigger stage at Minnesota.

When Monson left, Few took over. Hes the sole reason I got into this profession, the Zags coach said.

This is Gonzagas 25th straight trip to the tournament a streak that began when Monsons magical run to the Elite Eight in 99 left him as one of the hottest coaching commodities in the game.

Its a story worthy of a Disney show, the way its played out, Few said. Its also a lesson for all those athletic directors out there to take pause and realize, these jobs are hard and sometimes if youve got a good guy there, you might hang with it.

Monson made no effort to mask the strange truth behind this unexpected journey. He opened his 20-minute media session by announcing: I dont have to answer any questions I dont want to, because Im working for free today.

His path to Long Beach State was a reclamation project for both himself and the program. He was fresh off his disappointment at Minnesota, where seven-plus seasons produced only one NCAA trip. Long Beach State, meanwhile, was entering NCAA purgatory, filled with probation and scholarship reductions, the residue of recruiting violations committed by the previous coaching staff.

Monson turned it around quickly and got the program to the tournament in 2012. But this is his first trip back since. When the losing streak hit late this season, it came as little surprise to him and his family that a new AD might make the decision he made.

We all knew his contract was ending, said Monsons wife, Darci. When we started on the slide, he and I talked. There were a lot of tears. After we lost to Irvine (on March 2), I was really struggling. And then when we lost to Davis (on March 9), he was really struggling.

Smitheran steered clear of the teams open practice and media session Wednesday, and did not respond to emails from The Associated Press requesting an interview.

Earlier this week, a school official confirmed this once-in-a-lifetime run to the tournament wont change the end result. Monsons tenure as Long Beach States coach will end either Thursday, or Saturday, or, who knows, a week or two down the road.

Its why the words he has highlighted on the chalkboard before every game of late have been: Stay in the moment.

Its been a life-changing week, and in a good way, the coach said. And next week, Ive got a house payment, a car payment. Dont know how Im gonna do it. But dont really care.