Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Usually, Men’s Basketball student managers spend their long working hours coordinating and assisting the team. But one time, they got to play basketball with Adam Sandler.
Last April, Men’s Basketball Director of Operations Jimmy Martelli asked senior head manager Tyrone Green if he wanted to play with Sandler when he was in town for a show at the Altria.
“It was just cool, he’s just a normal guy, very friendly and he left us tickets to the show,” Green said. “He shouted us out at the show, which was pretty cool. It was a great opportunity and that’s some of the things that being a manager is about.”
The day-to-day tasks are a bit less glamorous than meeting a renowned comedian — manager responsibilities can range from picking up lunch to making sure towels and water are set up and helping players workout, Green said.
“I call it a 24/7 job,” Green said. “You’ve got to be on call whenever the coaches need, whenever the players need.”
There are four student managers that assist with the program’s day-to-day functions. Green and junior manager Michael Mann are always talking about basketball and what needs to be done.
“It’s a really big time commitment, he and I communicate constantly at all hours, whether it be about laundry or travel,” Mann said. “It could be 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock at night, but we’re always ready to go.”
Balancing schoolwork and a job is hard for a student manager, Green said. He’s taking all online classes in his final semester at VCU as he works toward a sociology degree. Mann wakes up early to attend his 8 a.m. class so he can get ready for practice at 2 p.m.
Both Green and Mann got involved in the program because their high school coaches knew coaches within the program, but Green had a jump-start compared to the other managers on staff.
“I started being a manager before I even graduated high school because I’m from Richmond,” Green said. “I started in late May with coach [Will] Wade’s staff. I was hired because in high school I played for Kendrick Warren, his jersey is hanging in the raftors [at the Siegel Center]. He made a phone call down here and I was like ‘Yeah, I would love to work with the program.’”
Warren played at VCU from 1990-1994, finishing as the Rams all-time leading scorer with 1,858 points— a mark that has since been surpassed by Eric Maynor — 1,953 — and Treveon Graham — 1,882. The university raised his number 23 to the rafters in 2005, but it is still worn on the court today by redshirt-junior wing Issac Vann.
Before games at the Siegel Center, the managers set up shootaround and perform other necessary tasks to get ready for that night’s contest.
“During shootaround, I usually go back and set up the uniforms and things like that for the players to make sure all the gear is correct for the game,” Green said. “By the time tip comes around, we help rebound on the court, then we are ready to go.”
When the game is in action, the student managers are just as engaged in the action as the players on the bench in front of them.
“They’re so much fun to have around and they’re so into it,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “They’re as excited as the players when we win a game and as bummed out as the players if we don’t win. They’re all in — they are so into it.”
And when the game ends, the student managers’ nights are just beginning.
“After the game we have responsibilities like cleaning up the bench, making sure everybody’s jersey gets turned in to be washed, going back to put film on coaches’ computers,” Mann said. “If they want to stick around the office and eat dinner late nights, you want to go get them some food — you do that after the game as well.”
Last year the Rams’ managers competed in the national manager games and took the crown, as they defeated former VCU coach Shaka Smart’s Texas staff in San Antonio, Texas.
“Honestly it was kind of unbelievable,” Green said. “We started the manager games my freshman year, we thought we were just playing and it built into this huge thing.”
The championship was a “brotherhood type of game,” Green said. Men’s Basketball Director of Player Development Darius Theus was on the Texas staff last season, so he played against one of his former teammates Joey Rodriguez. Theus and Rodriguez both played at VCU and were part of the 2011 Final Four team.
The teams in the manager games can be comprised of any staff member associated with the team, including coaches, except for the head coach.
The student managers returned to Richmond in 2018 not knowing that students and faculty at VCU would recognize them for their run to the national championship.
“[It] was a great experience even afterwards, people on campus would be like, ‘oh, you’re a manager on the team, you guys won a national championship,’” Mann said. “You didn’t think that people pay attention to, but you got noticed.”
Even though most fans do not notice what the student managers do on the court, they continue to influence the program every day.
Mann said his favorite part of the job is “being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.” “Though the work may be behind the scenes,” he said, “you know that you’re making a great impact.”