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He's the Mann! Meet GVSU's new men's basketball coach

Former Missouri assistant coach Cornell Mann was introduced as the Lakers' new bench boss at a press conference Thursday.
Credit: Mike Lacett

ALLENDALE, Mich. — New Grand Valley State University head coach Cornell Mann's passion for the game of basketball started at a young age in Royal Oak.

Back then his family didn't have a lot of money. In fact, they couldn't afford a basketball hoop. So Mann, his friends, and cousins decided to make one out of a bicycle. A lot has changed since those days, but Mann's love of the sport is as strong as ever. 

"I think you can feel it. I think you can see it," said the 50-year-old. "I think passion is not a word you can throw around. It's a word you can view."

And Mann says people will be able to view any time he's on a basketball court. In fact, he says it will be particularly evident when he's coaching in practice, more so than in games. 

"The conversation and communication that takes place on the floor is all so awesome and positive and encouraging." 

With his cousin, new Western Michigan basketball coach DJ Stephens watching, emotions flowed for Mann at his press conference Thursday as he talked about his path to get to Grand Valley State. After more than two decades as an assistant in the Division I level, this is Mann's first head coaching job and he's ready to lead the Lakers to the program's first-ever championship. 

"I would not set a time table. The work is the work," said Mann, whose past stops as an assistant includes Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Dayton, Iowa State, Oakland and Missouri. "We'll put the work in at a championship level."

Stephens has no doubt his cousin can get them there. 

"I just think he has really good relationships within the state. He's been a very good recruiter his entire career," Stephens said. "I'm just excited to see what he does at Grand Valley. I'm sure he will be very successful." 

Mann says he did have opportunities to coach this off season. What he said separated GVSU from the pack was the connections he made during the interview process. As he put it, questions turned to conversations. And conversations turned into laughter.

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