It was a natural for the Towson State basketball schedule: a home game against Robert Morris, whose top guard, Andre Boyd, just happens to be the older brother of the Tigers' leader, Devin Boyd.
Terry Truax tried, but Robert Morris opened with nine games on the road, and coach Jarrett Durham said he would be interested in starting a series, but only at the Colonials' home in Coraopolis, Pa. Maybe it was for the best that the battling Boyd brothers didn't get to meet on the court, because they spar enough off it.
Growing up on Baltimore's west side, the Boyds developed a combativeness that has had much to do with their success. Both rank among the three-point shooting leaders in their respective conferences, but they disdain operating on the periphery. Toughness has always been an asset, one they honed against each other.
"We're very close, but let's just say we debate a lot of stuff," said Devin, a Towson State junior. "Andre thinks he's right about everything. I can't tell him anything, and he hates it when I'm right. We were together for just a little bit over the holiday, and even then we had an argument over Nintendo football."
When the two played together at Walbrook High in 1985-86, they exchanged more than words.
"Ah, that was just a little thing in practice my senior year," Andre said. "Devin kept talking and talking and talking, and finally, I just had to bop him in the head."
Gus Herrington, the Walbrook coach, said, "I had to separate them a couple of times." Devin said that was nothing unusual.
"Whenever my mother went to work, we'd fight over anything," Devin said. "My record was probably something like 1-36, and I'd even fight with my oldest brothers. Most of my battles were with Andre. Mom believed him all the time."
Lorraine Boyd is proud of the job she has done raising her four sons. Preston, 31, who played at Carver High, is an employee of C&P; Telephone. She and Derick, 26, who also played at Walbrook, work the same shift at Rosewood State Hospital, mother as an office clerk and son as a direct care worker. She talks about her youngest two growing up together.
"Andre was always responsible for Devin getting to school," Lorraine said, "and I always told him, 'Don't come home unless Devin's with you.' I put a big responsibility on a little boy, but I had to.
"Both came out of the inner city able to take advantage of the opportunity they had. I tell the ladies on the job that the things they read about in the newspaper are really happening in this city. Out of all the boys Devin went to school with, he's the only one I know of that's not in jail. I think my boys came through because they watched out for each other."
At times, Andre did a better job keeping his brother out of trouble than himself. In his junior year of high school, Andre cut a class and was kicked off the Walbrook team by Herrington. He found a new group of friends and had a relatively serene senior season, but there would be more turmoil in 1986.
Andre didn't meet the then-new academic requirements of Proposition 48. At the time non-qualifiers still got four years of eligibility, but had to pay their own way as freshmen. Andre got a loan to do so, but wasn't aware the co-signer sat on the Board of Trustees at Robert Morris. That violated NCAA rules.
Andre helped the Colonials to Northeast Conference titles and NCAA tournament berths in 1989 and '90 -- making second-team All-Northeast Conference -- but the NCAA fined the school the $88,145 it earned from the 1989 tournament and banned Robert Morris from postseason play this season.
Citing lessened penalties against UNLV, Robert Morris officials appealed the 1991 postseason ban, but were turned down by the NCAA last week. The school filed suit against the NCAA, and the case will be heard Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in Pittsburgh.
Legal maneuvering aside, Andre expects to play his final college game Thursday, when the Colonials play at Mount St. Mary's. In talking about his troubles with the NCAA, his voice rises when Proposition 48 is the subject.
"I got over 30 credits as a freshman," Andre said, "and proved I could do college work."
A communications major, Andre needs just the three courses he's taking now to get his degree. His daughter, Desiree, is 2, and he likes the Pittsburgh suburbs.
"I think I've had a great college career, individually and team-wise."
With 1,180 career points, Andre is Robert Morris' No. 4 all-time scorer. He's also No. 3 in career assists and ranks among the leaders in steals. He's averaging 15.0 points, and has team-high figures of 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals.
"It's sad, but a lot of people in Pittsburgh know about him only because of the loan," Durham said. "He's just a fierce competitor. He can stink for 30 minutes, but for the last 10, when the game's on the line, no one's better."
Devin has carried an even higher profile at Towson State.
He was the East Coast Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman, and this season he's racking up the kind of numbers he did as a Walbrook senior, when he was first-team All-Metro. Devin leads Towson State with averages of 21.4 points, 3.8 assists and 3.2 steals, and is a candidate for ECC Player of the Year.
Devin spent his first two years as a set-up man for Kurk Lee, and needs just 26 assists to become Towson State's all-time leader in that category. He is also an injury-free senior season away from becoming the Tigers' all-time leader in career points and steals. Heading into tonight's game at Delaware, he has 1,242 points and 182 steals. Pat McKinley holds the record for points (1,832) and Brian Matthews holds it for steals (269).
Devin has been producing ever since he was a high school sophomore, when Herrington inserted him into a three-guard lineup at Walbrook.
"We used to say Devin was the gym rat," Herrington said. "You couldn't keep him off a court."
Devin remembers the family moving several times before settling into a rowhouse on Fulton Avenue when he was in the sixth grade. He was a familiar face at rec centers throughout the city, and not just on the west side.
"I played for Bentalou, St. Edward's and Lillian S. Jones," Devin said. "Then there was John Eager Howard, Madison, Robert Marshall. I played football there, too."
As a freshman at Walbrook, Devin was the backup quarterback on the Walbrook JV. His career in that sport ended with a broken wrist against Carver.
"Gus [Herrington] already had a thing about his basketball players trying football, too," Devin said. "That was that."
Before deciding on Towson State, Devin talked to the Robert Morris staff.
"We went to recruit Devin, and we liked what we saw, but they wouldn't be a good pair," Durham said. "Both of them like to be in charge."