Inside the Game: Shannan Lum – St. John’s Men’s Basketball Manager

Ball On My Mind is conducting a series titled “Inside the Game”, which explores the inner workings of diverse basketball personnel in the hoops industry. We hope to deliver insightful and compelling content for casual fans and basketball enthusiasts alike.

Shannan Lum is one of the men’s basketball managers for St. John’s University, previously assisting the women’s squad as well as having coaching experience at various camps. Lum is experienced in training student athletes, from youth to college aged, in the fundamentals of basketball and has worked closely with head coach Chris Mullin and the Red Storm staff this year. She is aspiring to be an NBA head coach and hopes to make a difference for women and minorities in sports in the future.

In the midst of a busy season, she graciously took the time to detail road trip experiences, the attraction of the basketball program, talented freshmen in Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds and more.

Ball On My Mind: Firstly, how was Battle 4 Atlantis?

Editor’s note: St. John’s participated in Battle 4 Atlantis, one of the top non-conference tournaments during the Thanksgiving week in the Bahamas.

Shannan Lum: Trip was great in terms the experience I got going to another country. Watching other teams work – I mean I obviously wasn’t there for their workouts or practices whatnot but just kind of a feel for how their managers do their things and just how different every team is with their culture. You see it on the court in their warmups and you see it how they act off the court when they’re meeting with fans. It’s really nice to see a different program especially because I have been around St. John’s for about three years now so getting a feel of different teams, which is great.

Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the results that we were hoping for but nonetheless the experience we got to soak up just gives up more experience going towards later in the season especially against the Big East teams, who have matched up against some pretty good teams too in the preseason. So it’s a good experience for us and hopefully grows our maturity in time for Big East play.

Credit: USA Today

BOMM: As a student manager, how do you balance academics and stay on track with both school and basketball?

SL: I prioritize in terms of you know when I get an assignment, is it high priority? Can I do that assignment at night especially right after I get it? Or is it a project and if that’s the case I plan ahead. Let’s say we are going on the road and we’re on a flight for 3 to 4 hours, then I’m going to have my computer set up so I have all the documents saved and all have to do is start working on the flights. I make sure to get in the office earlier at the basketball courts. I try to get in there as much as I can – do as much work as much as possible before practice and after practice. I communicated with my teachers a lot. I didn’t let the excuse of working for the basketball team become the reason why I couldn’t keep up with academics. I made sure that I got work done and timely – it’s basically time management. I made sure I planned ahead. I didn’t let time just waste away – I took advantage of every moment I got.

BOMM: St. John’s has had many players selected in past NBA drafts. In your opinion, what is it about the program that has attracted elite high school players?

SL: We’re the 9th winningest program in college basketball history. Granted that has been a couple years, a long time ago in terms of like Chris Mullin, Walter Berry and other athletes back in his day but the fact that we have also produced guys like Mo Harkless, players see that we can produce NBA players and it’s New York. You can’t take the fact that we’re in New York. That gives us such a solid ground because everyone wants to play at MSG. It’s like a saying if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere because of the hectic jungle vibe and because of that I believe some players like that challenge.

Specifically speaking, Marcus LoVett that’s one of our point guards this year. I know he wanted to come here because it’s a challenge to come in New York and beat everyone out. So if you can play in the Big East Conference, which is one of the granted not recently but as of now it is one of the top conferences out there. If you can play with them, then you’re making yourself a good case for going to the NBA and lottery picks such as Kris Dunn and Mo Harkless.

We’re not Kentucky obviously – we haven’t had multiple guys go into the NBA every single year but we’re for sure a school that has such history and professional guys like [Mullin] and Mark Jackson. We produce good NBA players and when I mean good, I mean great NBA players. Some players take that and run with it. Like Shamorie Ponds – he wanted to stay home in New York and he’s running with the fact that he’s learning from one of the best players in the NBA and two hall of fame coaches in Mullin and Mitch Richmond too – he made a career for himself. And definitely for NBA, people look at us regardless of the fact that we don’t have everyone going into the draft, we do get looked at and a lot of people bring back to the community at St. John’s.

BOMM: Given such a young squad, what does it mean to have the freshmen duo in Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds be able to step up and be leaders?

SL: Our team this year and especially last year were a special dynamic because we didn’t have seniors that everyone can look up to. Granted we had the grad school transfers last year but this year we don’t have a single senior except for Darien Williams. It gave everyone equal opportunity to take on the leadership role and bring our team together. That being said, you can see in [Marcus’] charisma that he is a leader in his own right. So he came out there with our team and took on that role – he embraced it. So having him join the team this year especially after the [8-24] season we had, I think helps us as we had a confidence boost. He saw the struggle and he worked his butt off in practice. Every time you see him on the court, I can tell he makes everyone look better – he makes everyone better. He’s verbalizing and he’s giving it his all. He makes everything he does with precision and excellence.

Shamorie – he’s also a really good player. He’s a lot more quiet – him and Marcus are actually quiet but on the court they know what they are doing so I think it gives our team confidence and it makes it easier for everyone to just play. Those two – the fact that they have high basketball IQs, it makes it easier for us to run with our team.

BOMM: Given your experience with player development, in your opinion how do you develop relationships with players and gain trust with them?

SL: I think being a genuinely caring person is what gets the trust factor for players and by relationships. If I don’t genuinely want to help a player, I don’t think I can fake that. Of course, there’s certain players that you know don’t want your help. I make sure that other things besides basketball is what I care about too. For high school guys, academics is a huge factor and helping to get to the next level – guys get misled to believe that because you are good at basketball or whatever sport you play, your academics will be covered. However, this is not true necessarily even though there are those one in a million cases.

Coaches can’t spend time worrying about that. They don’t want to recruit someone who is going to be a problem when they come. If you can’t get your academics together what makes you be able to handle college basketball. I make that a point to teach them that or explain it to them. I build relationships with their families and their loved ones because those are the most important people to the players. So if those players can find that their family trusts me, they begin to trust me too. If I’m superficial and only care about your stats, then at the end of the day when things don’t always pan out for you, you’re not going to believe that I’m here to help you out. So I think being genuine and caring is a huge factor.

Piece by Conrad Chow – Twitter:@chowster24

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