SMU sophomore Ryan Manuel has been given the chance to start at point guard this year for the Mustangs and he wants to make the most out of it.
"This year I think I'm coming in with more confidence and playing a little bit harder," Manuel said. "I'm trying to make plays all the time. Last year, I was a little bit hesitant to make plays but the biggest thing is confidence. I'm just playing with more confidence."
As a freshman, Manuel sat behind former SMU point guard Jeremiah Samarippas. Manuel learned patience offensively and how to get his teammates more involved from Samarippas, who currently plays at Tennessee Tech.
Manuel says that when Samarippas transferred he lost more than a teammate but a friend. However, he knew that it was an opportunity to showcase his own talent.
"It was tough because Jeremiah and I bonded off the court. I knew Jeremiah since when I came in as a freshman in summer school, and he pretty much took me under his wing," Manuel said. "But at the same time it was an opportunity for me to show everybody what I'm made of and show everybody that I actually can play at this level which I think I can."
Manuel says that since the end of last year his biggest focus has been improving his jump-shooting and free throws. In the Mustangs' first game against Loyola Marymount, Manuel finished as the team's second leading scorer with 14 points although 12 of them came from the free throw line. However, it was Manuel's defense that has impressed.
"I think it was ok," Manuel said. "Defensively I think I played pretty well and I shot well from the free throw line but going 1-for-9 (from the floor), I don't think that's acceptable but as long as I make the stops on defense the shots will come.
Coach Larry Brown talked about Manuel's ability to be a great defender in his press conference after the Mustangs' 73-58 victory over the Lions saying that Manuel could finish the season as one of the best defenders in the conference. Manuel says that his length and athleticism help him to make an impact defensively.
"If you get a defensive stop that helps the mentality on offense," Manuel said. "If you get a stop then you're more pumped to play on offense. If you get a deflection then you can outlet and run so with my length and athleticism I think I can be one of the best defenders on the team."
Manuel says that offensively the Mustangs want to push up and down the floor and play fast but smart. Manuel says that Brown wants the point guards to distribute the ball to their teammates when their open and help the team to take open shots each time down the floor.
"I talk to Coach Brown every day trying to figure out what he wants from me and figure out what I need to work on," Manuel said. "He just expects us to get everybody else involved first and once you get everybody else involved first you can look for your own shots."
Manuel says that his goals for the season are to make the all-conference defensive team as well as average a double-double. However, most of all, Manuel wants to lead his team to the promise land.
"We want to win the conference championship, make it to the NCAA tournament and even go further than that," Manuel said. "We want to compete for a national championship. That's what we're really trying to do here- build a team and compete for a national championship."
Hoops Player Profile Series: Ryan Manuel
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