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MU's Canty practices, then practices more

Aug. 04, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- You might walk past Cam Henderson Center late at night and hear a basketball bouncing.

That's Kareem Canty working on his game.

Sometimes he's by himself running, shooting and dribbling.

It's dark outside, but lights are on in the arena.

"I figured out how to turn the lights on," Canty said.

Marshall University's redshirt freshman point guard is a real gym rat. Canty said he plays 24-7 in pick-up games or just by himself putting up jump shots. When he's alone in the gym he often uses the shooting gun that feeds the basketball back to the shooter.

That's mostly how the 6-foot-1, 20-year-old from Harlem, N.Y., spent the last year. The NCAA struck down his eligibility to play as a freshman non-qualifier. He wasn't allowed to practice with the team, and he watched games from a seat behind the team bench.

"I have put all my frustration behind me," Canty said Friday when Marshall began 10 days of practices before a bus trip into Canada to play some exhibition games. "Some of these guys (teammates) just came off their seasons. I've been waiting.

"I became better. It was a chance to get my mind right. I became a better teammate."

After the long wait, Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said Canty was eager for summer workouts to begin.

Canty has a passion for basketball and it's a big part of who he is, Herrion said.

Marshall has several newcomers on the roster and Herrion said he'll be using the Canadian trip to look at different lineups and get players some experience. Of the players on the team only seniors Elijah Pittman and Yous Mbao; junior J.P. Kambola; sophomores Tamron Manning and DeVince Boykins; and sophomore Ohio University transfer TyQuane Goard have NCAA Division I game experience.

"Kareem has to get some of the rust off," Herrion said.

Canty goes by the nickname "NuNu," that he was given by an aunt when he was a baby, and he doesn't know why.

He played three seasons at Bishop Loughlin High in Brooklyn, N.Y., before going to Bridgton Academy in Maine and signed with Marshall in November 2011 while at Westwind Academy in Phoenix, Ariz. He left the Arizona school after one semester when there was a coaching change and finished at Faith Baptist Christian in Brandon, Fla.

Recruiting services ranked him among the nation's top 25 point guard prospects.

Canty said he was immature at a younger age. If he didn't like somewhere, he left.

Now, he's the leading candidate to be Marshall's starting point guard as a rookie Division I player, and that carries some responsibility.

"It (leadership) is something I've always had," he said. "If you work hard they respect you. The thing about this year's group is there's no egos."

All Canty could do was watch as Marshall slumped to a 13-19 record last season.

Pittman, a 6-9 senior forward, is the only returning starter. Pittman led last season's team with a 16.1 scoring average, but the next seven players on the scoring list all left either as graduates or transfers.

Outsiders might not expect much from Marshall in the 2013-14 season, but Canty said the players have high expectations.

"A lot of people think we're not going to do well," he said. "I think we're the only guys that believe in us."

For Canty, the season can't come soon enough.

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