Mann has close ties to UConn pro­gram

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By David Borges

STORRS — Dan Hur­ley thought he had a pretty good chance of re­cruit­ing Ter­ance Mann to play at Rhode Is­land a few years ago.

Mann’s mother, Day­nia La-Force, had just been hired as URI’s head women’s bas­ket­ball coach, so Hur­ley fig­ured Mann might want to join mom in the Ocean State.

“We thought we had a real chance at him,” said Hur­ley, who coached at URI for six sea­sons be­fore tak­ing over at UConn this sea­son. “Then, we didn’t make his Top 5 list.”

In­deed, Mann’s star rose over his fi­nal year at Til­ton School, and the likes of Flor­ida State, In­di­ana, Bos­ton Col­lege, Iowa, Mary­land, Flor­ida and West Vir­ginia started com­ing af­ter him.

“At the end of the day, I

wanted to be away from home,” said Mann, who grew up in Low­ell, Mass. “I think Hur­ley knew that.”

He wound up at Flor­ida State, and on Satur­day at 6:30 p.m. at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Ne­wark, N.J., Mann will go up against Hur­ley for the first time as a col­le­gian when No. 11 Flor­ida State faces UConn in the Never For­get Trib­ute Clas­sic.

“I spent a lot of time with Ter­ance, he was al­ways work­ing out at (URI’s Ryan Cen­ter), al­ways play­ing pick-up with our guys,” Hur­ley re­called. “I think he’s one of the best al­laround perime­ter peo­ple/ hyrid play­ers that we’ll play against this year.”

Mann, a 6-foot-7 se­nior, leads the Semi­noles’ well­bal­anced scor­ing at­tack at 11.1 points per game, and is also the team’s top re­bounder at 7.3 per con­test.

When he takes the floor against the Huskies on Satur­day, he’ll not only be go­ing up against his mom’s for­mer co-worker, but also one of his best friends. Jalen Adams, UConn’s top scorer, has been tight with Mann since the two were in high school. Adams, who is a year older than Mann, played in the Bos­ton Am­a­teur Bas­ket­ball Club briefly with Mann be­fore mov­ing over to play for Mass Ri­vals. The two went up against each other nu­mer­ous times in AAU and in high school, when Mann was at Til­ton and Adams was at Cush­ing Academy, then Brew­ster Academy.

In AAU, as Mann re­calls, the teams split in their two head-to-head meet­ings. But in prep school, Adams seemed to al­ways get the bet­ter of Mann’s teams.

“His team was al­ways stacked,” Mann noted.

Now, the ta­bles are a bit turned. Flor­ida State (7-1) is one of the very best teams in the coun­try, with wins over Flor­ida, LSU and Pur­due and a loss only to de­fend­ing na­tional champ Vil­lanova. And the Semi­noles, who re­turn seven of their top nine scor­ers from last year’s Elite Eight squad, have been without last year’s top scorer, Phil Cofer, who’s been out with a foot in­jury.

UConn is try­ing to take that next step up, seek­ing to knock off a ranked team for the first time in nearly three years.

“I def­i­nitely got the best of him in high school, but their team is re­ally good,” Adams said af­ter the Huskies’ blowout win over Lafayette on Wed­nes­day, “and he’s been play­ing re­ally well this year and since he’s been in col­lege. We’ve got to get back to work and prep for Flor­ida State.”

La-Force and Hur­ley had a good re­la­tion­ship while both were at URI, some­times sit­ting in on each oth­ers’ prac­tices.

“I’ve al­ways ad­mired how hard the guys prac­ticed, and how or­ga­nized his prac­tices were,” said La-Force, whose Rams were 5-2 head­ing into a Thurs­day night bout at Ken­tucky. “And just how much ef­fort and en­ergy the guys per­formed with in prac­tice. It’s the same ef­fort and en­ergy you see in the bas­ket­ball game. With Coach Hur­ley, there was no dif­fer­ences in prac­tices and games.”

The sum­mer af­ter his fresh­man year at UConn, Adams spent a cou­ple of days at Mann’s home in Rhode Is­land. They still com­mu­ni­cate fre­quently via text or so­cial me­dia, and there has been some trash-talk­ing about Satur­day’s game lately.

“It’ll be fun,” Adams promised. “We haven’t played against each other since AAU, high school days. I’m sure it’ll be com­pet­i­tive.”

Mann said he wished he would have been re­cruited by UConn, but never re­ally was. He has been at a UConn game, how­ever — a UConn women’s game at Gam­pel, when his mom was an as­sis­tant at North­east­ern.

Need­less to say, Mann hopes his team fares bet­ter against the Huskies than that North­east­ern team did sev­eral years back.

“It’s def­i­nitely gonna be an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, to be in an at­mos­phere like that,” he said.

Mann is also just 11 points shy of his 1,000th ca­reer point. What bet­ter way to reach that mile­stone than against a cou­ple of old friends?

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