By: Tim Andrzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
RiceOwls.com sat down with the new Men's Basketball assistant coaches. The final installment features assistant coach Omar Mance.
How did you decide to get into coaching?
“My mother Teresa and father, the late great Coach Eric Mance. She was a special education teacher and he was a legendary high school coach in Atlanta for 35 years who had over 500 wins. He passed this year and it was a reminder how he wanted to impact and change young men’s lives through basketball. He impacted thousands of players and it is why I do what I do; to honor him and impact young men through basketball. As a coach's and educator’s son, I grew up watching them help young people and change lives. It’s my responsibility to continue their legacy.”
What do you consider to be your coaching style?
“My coaching style is taken from my experiences as a player (a player’s coach) and from some great mentors I coached with in my career. My dad was big on being demanding without being demeaning. I loved when a coach instilled confidence and belief in my abilities, so I coach that way now. I love to encourage and instill confidence into each player. I am a player’s coach.”
Who are the coaches that have helped you in your coaching career?
“I have been blessed to have worked for some great mentors. From Willis Wilson, who I played for and coached with at Rice, to Zach Spiker, current head coach Drexel and former Patriot League Coach of the Year at Army. Also, Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay (2016 Big South Coach of the Year) to my most recent experience with Bryce Drew at Vanderbilt last season. I have incorporated all of their teachings and mentorship. They have been great resources and mentors to help me one day hopefully be a head coach.”
Are there any coaches that you have tried to model your coaching style after?
“Absolutely. I love the mentorship that Willis Wilson gives to his players, the defensive “Pack-Line” philosophy of Ritchie McKay, the offensive power of Zach Spiker former head coach at Army and the player development of Bryce Drew.”
You spent your playing career at Rice. What was it like for you as a student-athlete?
“It was awesome. I truly loved being able to connect the student body to athletics. Also, I transferred from LSU to Rice, and the year I redshirted in 2000, Rice only won five games. By the time I was a senior in 2003, we won 19 games and the next year 22 and went to the NIT. It was so cool to see the student body at games loving the environment. It was also great to see the program grow into a winning culture.”
How did Rice influence your coaching career?
“Rice is a great family atmosphere. It is all about relationships. The more you have strong relationships, the more you want to connect and give back. I was impacted so much by my coaches here like Coach Wilson that I wanted to impact young people like I was impacted while at Rice.”
What was it about coming back to Rice that appealed to you?
“It’s home and family for me. Even my sister Akilah graduated from Rice in 2005 and is a lawyer in town. I want Rice to be great. I’m excited to help bring consistency and a personal touch. So to have Coach Pera ask me to come back to help him build consistent success, I knew it was perfect. I also want to represent all the former players that gave blood, sweat, and tears for Rice. I hope that they feel their hard work and legacy will continue. Rice has always had great talent and I hope to keep it consistently here and have continued success as we vie for a conference championship and try to make history by going to the NCAA tourney, a goal we all had as players and now as a coach.”
Do you feel like it’s easier for you to relate to the players because you went to Rice and went through the same things (athletically, academically, etc.) that the players are going through?
“I feel part of my advantage in coaching at my alma mater is the familiarity with Rice. Having played here and having success on and off the court, I will give as much wisdom to our players as I can. I can relate to the long study nights, academic rigors, and how to navigate successfully on campus. Athletically, I hope to share some small keys that helped me become all-conference and academically some things I learned that helped me win the Bob Quin Award for student-athletes. I hope to help anywhere I can.”
What was your relationship with Coach Pera prior to joining the staff?
“We met briefly before I strongly considered coming this year and I knew of him over a number of years. Also, through very close colleagues/friends like former Owl great Brent Scott and former assistant Carlin Hartman, I knew he was a great coach, husband, father, and leader. As the son of a coach, I really appreciate his success as a high school coach, winning multiple championships. Also, while he was an assistant at Arizona State and Penn I knew a number of close peers that spoke very highly of him, so when we met prior to me leaving Vanderbilt, everything I heard was confirmed. It’s great to finally work with him.”