Mann helps steer Seminoles to win
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida State men’s basketball team may often be reminded about playing for the first time in three years without a clear-cut NBA prospect during the 2017-18 campaign.
But if forward Terance Mann can sustain his season-opening performance over the course of his junior year, the conversation topic may change for the Seminoles.
Mann made his first seven shots, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds, as Florida State (1-0) extended the nation’s fifthlongest home winning streak to 22 games with an 87-67 win over George Washington University at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Tuesday night.
FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton, entering his 16th season with the program, will continue to harp about his team’s necessity to win by committee after the departures of NBA rookies in Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon and Knicks G-League guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
But the Seminoles believe, with time, their developing group of players vaunted into substantial roles can make some noise in the ACC this season despite being projected to finish eighth among 15 teams during the preseason.
“There’s no doubt his role is going to be different,” Hamilton said of Mann. “He was attacking the basket. He also has improved his perimeter shooting … what we need from him and our entire team is to be consistent with the execution.”
FSU used tenacious defense to speed up the pace and score in bunches against GW, making 12 of its first 17 shots, finishing at 55.9 percent from the field, with 52 points in the paint. The Seminoles also forced 19 turnovers against the Colonials.
“They’re length and athleticism, you can replicate with walk-ons in practice. It’s something you have to face,” George Washington coach Maurice Joseph said. “… When you’re scoring so many points in the paint and they can set their pressure it, it allows them to force 19 turnovers.”
The recipe for success was similar to a season ago where the Seminoles went undefeated in all 18 home games and extending a home winning streak that began against Notre Dame on Feb. 27, 2016.
The home success led to a second-place finish behind North Carolina in the ACC standings last season and the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in five years under Hamilton, which seven players experienced firsthand.
While the streak and tourney bid sets a bar for the young group of Seminoles, players could have trouble at times contending in the ACC because of their collective inexperience.
But not during the team’s fifth consecutive seasonopening win.
Mann, FSU’s most experienced returning player behind senior forward Phil Cofer, led the defensive effort guarding GW’s ballhandler up the court most of the night and getting to the basket at will on the offensive end.
Mann finished 8 of 10 from the field, missing his first shot with less than five minutes remaining, but was FSU’s most effective player on both sides of the floor, adding four offensive rebounds and two assists.
“I just did what I was supposed to do,” Mann said. “I let the game come to me, and I didn’t force anything. I was just out there being me.”