Feb. 17, 2011
Stanford Hosts UCLA Thursday At 7:30 p.m.
Weekly Conversation with Johnny Dawkins
STANFORD, Calif.- On the screen, Jarrett Mann watches Rajon Rondo work his magic. Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook makes an appearance in Mann's video research. So does Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor.
Mann wants to study point guards that look like him, big and long who can create offense. He also wants to watch players that are more like "true" point guards, sharp, efficient leaders who distribute the ball.
He wants to see them all, learn from the all.
"I am a huge student of the game," said the Cardinal's junior point guard. "This is really only the second year I've been a point guard."
Mann is the Cardinal's floor leader, the player who sets the tone. Coach Johnny Dawkins calls him "the most selfless player on the team."
"He does whatever he's called upon to do," Dawkins said. "He's never blinked, he just goes out and does the job. He's a wing player who played point guard. This year he's been back off the ball and back on the ball and throughout it all, he's never wavered and he's consistently gotten better."
Mann's junior season started out in a tough way. Playing in a preseason scrimmage, he sustained a knee injury, a sprained MCL. The injury didn't keep him off the floor, but it forced him into a large knee brace that didn't come off until the Pac-10 season began.
As the season has gone on, Mann's knee has healed, his confidence has increased and he has become a catalyst.
He is the team's best perimeter defender, one of the best in the Pac-10 if you ask Dawkins. He has started every game this season, and is No. 2 on the team in minutes played. He leads the Cardinal in assists and steals and is improving his shooting from the free-throw line every month as the season's gone on.
"He's shooting better, his free-throw shooting is better and his overall leadership has improved," Dawkins said. "He's taking ownership of our team. He's an elder statesman."
On Feb. 10 against Washington State, Mann established a career-high with 11 assists to go with seven points and four rebounds. In the last month, he has established career-highs in rebounds (eight vs. Arizona on Feb. 3), points (14 vs. Arizona State on Feb. 5) and the assists total against the Cougars. Those 11 assists were the most for a Stanford player since Mitch Johnson's school-record 16-assist performance against Marquette in the NCAA Tournament back on Mar. 22, 2008.
Mann came to Stanford from New Jersey. He came as a shooting guard, a wing player who could slash and score and defend. But last season, he became a point guard out of necessity. He was the No. 3 point guard at the start of his sophomore season who was ultimately thrust into the starting role.
This year, he started again at the off-guard spot, before moving back to the point.
"He's a kid with an open mind," Dawkins said. "He's willing to see the game in a different way and he's been willing to do that."
Mann said the shifting between the two positions has opened up his offensive game.
Becoming a floor leader has been more of a process, not something that necessarily comes naturally.
"It's definitely something I've learned and been groomed to do," Mann said. "Last year was really tough for me. Nearly all my minutes were at the point. But Landry Fields was our leader and everyone listened to him, while the coaches encouraged me to step up and talk. Now when we are in the huddle all the guys are looking at me."
And Mann said he feels very comfortable with that.
"I can play all the positions 1-3 and I know all the positions 1-5, where everybody is supposed to be," Mann said. "Once you study the game, it's a lot easier to vocalize."
Last year, my job was mostly to get Landry and Jeremy (Green) the ball. Now I have a more featured role in the offense and I'm a lot more comfortable with that."
Mann said he has a close relationship with coach Johnny Dawkins, who played at the point during his college career at Duke and in his NBA career.
"He went from a scorer in high school and in college, to the NBA to more of a distributor," Mann said. "He's been through the same transition that I've been through and that helps me a lot."
- Michelle Smith