HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- In the span of just a few months, rising sophomores Tamron Manning and DeVince Boykins went from inexperienced members of the Marshall men's basketball roster to two of the more veteran players on the team.
That'll happen when, after graduations and transfers, they find themselves averaging the most minutes last season behind lone returning starter Elijah Pittman.
The two grew into significant reserve roles last season, and as the team goes through its eight-week summer period of two team instructional hours per week, they're trying to further advance their responsibilities on the team.
"We have to come in and accept a bigger role," Boykins said, "have a bigger voice and come in as leaders. That's what we're looking to do with the experience we have and just doing what (Herd Coach Tom Herrion) expects."
Last year, Manning and Boykins , both standing 6-foot-4, were rookies. Manning was a true freshman learning the college basketball ropes and Boykins was a redshirt freshman recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss the first seven games of last season. As the season wore on, they became more and more integral to the rotation.
Manning got his first true taste of major college minutes when, after DeAndre Kane was lost for four games with a broken hand, he played 30 minutes in a loss to Cincinnati. After that, he often was called upon to play significant time at point guard, even though most of his experience was at shooting guard. He started five of the 28 games he played.
"It was a good experience," Manning said. "It was hard at times. But my versatility definitely had grown. The biggest thing I learned probably was being ready at all times, because you never know when the team was going to need you."
Manning figures he'll be used at both shooting and point guard this season. Boykins, who was used mostly as a defensive presence last year, hopes to become more involved in the offense this coming season as both a guard and small forward, now that his knee has healed.
"With me getting my legs back up under me and stuff like that, and getting my jumping ability back, I look to contribute in getting out and running the passing lanes and getting down court, scoring in transition as well as helping rebound," Boykins said.