For former Marshall coach, basketball helps reassemble a shattered life

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Shawn Harrington and Patrick Beverley have a West Side upbringing and Marshall High School basketball in common, along with a belief that ferocity trumps finesse in the game they love.

Beverley, cornerback-quick and linebacker-strong at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, has been proving the point in the NBA playoffs, the hard-edged leader of the Rockets' success in negating the triple-double firepower of the Thunder's Russell Westbrook.

That his protege's offensive punch would surprise the TV commentators brings a bemused smile to Harrington's expressive face. He coached Beverley at Marshall and has known the 28-year-old point guard since Beverley was a "shorty" learning the game on West Side playgrounds, where toughness was a requirement.

"Pat led the state in scoring his senior year at Marshall," Harrington recalled. "He played both sides of the ball — in the (Public League) Red West you had to. And once he got to the NBA, he realized he was only going to stick if he became a lockdown defender. But Pat was always a scorer."

Harrington, 41, was a Division II All-American at Northwest Missouri State, where he landed after playing at Mineral Area (Iowa) Junior College, then New Mexico State following graduation from Marshall in 1993. A 5-11, 170-pound frame deemed too slight for the rigors of pro ball curtailed his NBA aspirations, so he returned to the West Side and went to work in a community under siege, coaching hoops and serving as a classroom aide to special-ed students at Marshall while helping raise his daughter, Naja.

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