February 26, 2013

Learning to adjust

Charles Mann won't lie.

Being a freshman point guard in the SEC is not easy. The growing pains are tough. But as the Bulldogs head down the final stretch of the regular season, the former Milton standout said the lessons he continues to learn won't soon be forgotten.

"It's not what I thought it was going to be. It's been up and down," Mann said before practice Tuesday. "I've just been trying to get used to it, get familiar with it. It's been fun, but I'm still having to get used to certain situations."

Granted, most freshmen are due their share of early growing pains and inconsistency.

That's certainly been the case for Mann.

After back-to-back games against Ole Miss and Arkansas where he scored a combined 10 points with 10 turnovers, Mann responded with a 14-point, 3-turnover effort in Georgia's 62-54 overtime win over South Carolina.

"The consistency is something I'm still trying to find," he said. "But a lot of that is due to the transition from high school to college, the level of play, the level of intensity, the development of your game, just everything. It's definitely been different, but I think I've been doing a better job. I've been transitioning and I think I'm getting there."

But improvements still need to be made.

One of those changes include a tweak to his personality. Mann acknowledges he's not the most vocal player on the Bulldogs (13-14, 7-7), something as a point guard he feels must improve.

"I've got to be much more demanding and much more vocal. I'm not a loud guy, but I know I've got to come out of my shell a little bit and try to just lead my team," Mann said. "But I've progressed a lot I think from the beginning of the season to now. It's just been a matter of believing in myself, and become the player they want me to be."

Head coach Mark Fox agrees believes Mann will get there.

"He's still trying to figure out what he's doing, and that's a hard deal to play the large chunk of minutes that he's playing and lead your team, because you're still trying to figure out what you're supposed to do," Fox said. "It's a real challenge, but he's handled it pretty well. He's going to have ups and downs like all freshmen do, but he's been very willing to look back at himself and say I need to correct A, B and C, and that's why I think he keeps getting better."

A three-star performer when he signed out of Milton High, Mann chose the Bulldogs over 16 other schools who offered, including Florida State, Georgia Tech and Connecticut.

Heading into Wednesday night's game (9 p.m., FSN) against the Commodores (11-15, 5-9), Mann has only started eight times, but has seen extensive time at the point for Georgia, sharing time with senior Vincent Williams.

"I just try to do what my team needs. Some days I'm not going to score a lot," Mann said. "If I have to rebound more, pass the ball more, whatever it takes to help my team win that night."

Of the true freshmen point guards Fox has ever coached, Mann certainly has some big sneakers to fill.

The only other two freshmen point guards to start for Fox include two of his former stars at Nevada, Ramon Sessions and Armon Johnson, currently in the NBA.

"Charles he gets a tough comparison there because those two kids at Nevada were very good players. But I will say when I first saw Charles play that the first person he reminded me of was Ramon, who is going on to have a very good NBA career," Fox said. "Charles is big, he's got a natural instinct to pass, he can score from that position, so he's cut of the same mold as those other guys were and that's one of the reasons we like him."