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Herd prepares for Pirates

MU hoops
Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:32 AM

HUNTINGTON -- An outsider who walked into a Marshall Thundering Herd men's basketball practice might be surprised by what they saw.

Marshall has a losing record (8-9) in a season that began with lofty expectations, yet the team comes to work with a positive attitude.

Head coach Tom Herrion said Monday's workout after returning from a loss at UTEP was one of the best this season.

The difference between losing and winning often isn't much, and redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins thinks that's reason enough to be optimistic.

"We know that the losses we've taken are not the final record," Boykins said. "We know we can still win the conference tournament and go to the NCAA tournament."

Marshall is off to a 1-1 start in Conference USA with its next game at 7 p.m., Saturday, against East Carolina in Cam Henderson Center.

East Carolina (11-5, 2-1) won at home Wednesday against Houston (12-4, 1-2), 89-78.

The Herd worked hard in practices Monday and Tuesday and had a lighter session Wednesday. Thursday is time to focus on the next opponent.

"The first couple of days were just going back to basics," Boykins said. "Getting up a lot of shots and working on fundamentals."

Boykins has appeared in only 10 college games, but he's been around long enough to gain some knowledge of what it takes to win.

"We all know we have the talent," he said. "We just have to stay positive."

Marshall held Boykins out of competition last season as a freshman. The 20-year-old from Forest City, N.C., missed the first seven games this season because of a right knee injury.

He finally got on the court for two minutes Dec. 1 against UNC Wilmington, followed by playing for one minute Dec. 5 in the West Virginia game.

Since then, he's played double-figure minutes in seven of the Herd's eight games.

Boykins said he's getting back in the groove and is ready to shed the cumbersome protective brace he wears on his knee.

The 6-foot-4, 211-pound guard in a football linebacker body's defense is ahead of his offense right now. He has just seven points and 11 rebounds for the season.

He's done a lot of work on his jump shot.

"The biggest thing is trying to round my game out," he said. "I feel like I should be doing more as far as attacking the rim. That's what I was known for before Marshall."

Boykins was an all-state player for East Rutherford High School in Bostic, N.C., and led the Cavaliers (27-1) to the North Carolina Class 2A state championship in 2011. He was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the championship game.

He had averages of 17 points, 13 rebounds and four assists as a high school senior.

Herd notes: Marshall Tip-Off Club luncheon meeting Friday at noon in Guyan Golf and Country Club. Head basketball coach Tom Herrion will talk. Head football coach Doc Holliday and new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater will be there. Lunch is $12 for members, $15 for guests.

Purchase an $18 general admission ticket for the East Carolina game and if Marshall wins, you win. The ticket cam be redeemed for a free general admission ticket for every home game until the Herd loses at home.

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