Harper Woods — Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and if you're Dave Mann, you might experience both in the same day.
That’s what happened Wednesday night when he coached two girls basketball teams in the state tournament with his Detroit Cornerstone team (10-4) coming away on the short end of a 28-15 Class C district semifinal at Detroit Central before he took the short trip to Harper Woods, where his Chandler Park team (12-10) defeated Warren Lincoln 47-10 in a Class B district semifinal.
Yes, Mann coaches multiple teams. In fact, he coaches three teams with his Harper Woods Chandler Park Varsity 2 team going 17-2, including wins over Mt. Clemens, East Detroit, New Haven, Ecorse and Southfield Christian.
No doubt, Mann enjoys coaching just as much … or better than he did in his younger days when he guided Redford Bishop Borgess to three Class C state championships (1993, ’95,’97) in 11 years and then Inkster to a Class C state championship 15 years ago.
“The kids are the same now as they were then, but there’s less parental guidance than there was 25 years ago so there’s fewer parents involved and more things kids can get into, especially with social media and things like that, really a greater variety of issues,” said the 56-year-old Mann, who is third on the state’s all-time win list with 685, including 39 this season between the three teams.
“Coaching for me is just as much fun. I always remember this, when I left Inkster I didn’t even know where I was going to coach, and went to Charlotte Forten, which didn’t have a team. Leslie Rockymore was the athletic director at Forten back then, he brought me in and we went 18-2 that year, didn’t even play in the state tournament and it was just as much fun. It wasn’t state championship-level players like it was at Bishop Borgess and Inkster, but it wasn’t any less fun coaching the kids.”
Mann had more than his share of stars who played under him at Bishop Borgess, including Miss Basketball award winners Maxann Reese, who was a first-team All-Big Ten player at Michigan State, and Aiysha Smith, who played at LSU and then in the WNBA.
This is Mann’s seventh season at Chandler Park, where he is also the assistant athletic director. He got a call from his former Bishop Borgess player, Staci Russell, now the assistant principal at Cornerstone, back in late November, telling him that its coach left a week prior to the season and needed a coach.
After all, Russell knew Mann coached multiple teams earlier this decade when he led the varsity programs at both Detroit Allen Academy and Chandler Park.
Mann agreed to the job and guided practices at Cornerstone after school, then worked with Chandler Park’s teams in the evening, having those teams practice together. It’s easy to notice his demeanor while guiding the teams, knowing he has to be a little softer with Cornerstone’s players and yes, the team has made progress, but where the talent level doesn’t match that of Chandler Park.
At Chandler Park expectations are high and his intensity is up a notch. OK, a couple of more notches with the program working on its seventh straight district title with the championship game set Friday night against Center Line.
Mann was up to the challenge Wednesday, getting up at 6 a.m. for his assistant AD job. Then, it was on to Detroit Central, where Cornerstone came in with a 10-3 record, playing Jalen Rose Academy.
Cornerstone got off to a slow start and never recovered, trailing 6-2 after one quarter, 17-5 at halftime and 22-11 after three.
Still, Cornerstone showed fight and pulled to within 22-15 with 4:42 left and at the line for an opportunity to pull within five with free throws a minute later.
But the free throws didn’t go in and Jalen Rose Academy made consecutive baskets to pull away.
Mann coached to the end, pleading his point to officials for several minutes when a double technical foul was called on players jawing at each other near midcourt with 4:42 remaining and the clock reading 6:16 p.m., or just over an hour before Chandler Park was set to play.
“I’m proud of you guys, you had a chance to win this game,” said Mann to his Cornerstone players after the game.
Winston Smith, father of Cornerstone junior Taylor Smith, is happy that Mann took the job.
“I don’t know how he does it, he must love it because you’d have to have a love for it,” said Smith of Mann coaching multiple teams. “I like him, he’s a teacher. My daughter has made tremendous progress.”
Cornerstone sophomore Jordyn Hardyway has the intensity Mann loves to see as a ball-hawking guard. And, Hardyway enjoys playing for Mann.
“He’s a very good coach, very encouraging,” Hardyway said. “I just play to win, play my hardest, do what my coach says and play ball. He knows what he’s talking about and what he tells me keeps me under control most of the time.”
Mann gets a word from a Cornerstone parent before he heads to the parking lot to get in his Ford Focus to make the trip to Chandler Park for the nightcap.
Mann escapes traffic problems as he gets on the Lodge and heads to I-94 east, getting off at Moross and then Kelly, where Chandler Park Academy is located.
Mann enters Chandler Park’s gym as the first semifinal game, won by Center Line, just begins the fourth quarter.
Mann huddles with his players in the locker room before the game, talking about strategy, including the use of a trap to force turnovers. The players listen to his every word and then deliver, forcing multiple turnovers with use of full-court pressure and the trap to take a 28-8 halftime lead.
Chandler Park — led by junior guards Diamond Williams and Naja Farrell, the lone two starters back from a regional final team — holds Lincoln without a point for a stretch of 14 minutes and 40 seconds to turn a 24-8 cushion into a 43-8 edge midway through the final quarter. Williams finishes with 17 points and 5-foot-3 sophomore guard DeShauna Walker chips in with 12 points.
Walker’s mother, Shereeta Sanders feels fortunate to have Mann as her daughter’s coach.
“I love Dave,” Sanders said. “He’s more than a coach, he’s like a father and makes them do their homework, keep them disciplined, make them practice and work hard, earn their spot really.”
Said DeShauna: “He’s a very good coach, a very valuable man who pays a lot of attention to us and we work on a lot of things and it’s working for us too. I’ve improved a lot on my shot and with my attitude and it all came from Coach Dave yelling at me, encouraging me.”
Mann talks to his players following the game, already getting them ready to focus on the job ahead, which is the matchup against Center Line for what could be a seventh straight district title.
Why does Mann do this, working 16-hour days, coaching multiple teams? He points out this will more than likely be his final year at Cornerstone since Cornerstone is joining Chandler Park’s league next year, the Charter School Conference.
“Yes, it’s worth it,” Mann said. “I got up at 6, left for work at 7 and I’ll get home about 11 by the time I put these uniforms in the wash and everything. People ask me how long I’ll coach and I tell them I have to keep coaching because all my other skills have atrophied by now. I don’t know how to do anything else, that broadcasting, all that U-M education, that’s all long gone.”
Mann broadcast Michigan basketball games in the mid-1980s, actually working on Steve Fisher’s TV show when the Wolverines won the national championship.
Mann coaches a Chandler Park Varsity 2 team because he wants players to have opportunities.
“It’s always been important to me because I’ve always loved basketball, but I was always one of the guys getting cut,” said Mann. “I went out for the school team every year (at Portage Central), got cut, but would always continue to play in intramurals, church league. Got to Michigan and played intramurals and dorm leagues, so I always played and went into broadcasting because I wanted to be around basketball.
“I just don’t like cutting kids, so even in our middle school and elementary school teams we only select a certain amount for school teams, but then we run Eagle league so we have our own in-house leagues with all those kids on teams so they can play the game they love and develop.”
Junior guard Asia Travis-Gray is one player that has taken advantage of the Chandler Park Varsity 2 team. She is one of five players pulled up to the main team for postseason play.
“He lets everybody play and doesn’t cut anybody and I’ve learned a lot,” Travis-Gray said. “He’s taught me a lot and I’ve played since elementary and it’s been amazing.”
Mann gets a lot done in a day’s work and dozens of kids have benefited from it, along with Brenda Pendleton, the JV assistant coach at Chandler Park as well as head elementary coach.
“Dave Mann is awesome,” said Pendleton, whose daughter Kaylyn Pendleton is a 6-0 sophomore on the varsity team. “I’m his little protégé, learned a lot about coaching. And, those kids have learned a lot. He has inspired them and taught them how to stay strong and be confident.”
All-time wins leaders in Michigan girls basketball and how their teams are doing this season:
Frank Orlando, Detroit Country Day (757 wins): 21-1, contender for Class B state title.
Al DeMott, Sandusky (694): 22-0 and top-ranked team in Class C.
Dave Mann, Harper Woods Chandler Park (685): 12-10 and playing for Class B district title.