Leading up to the start of the regular season, RunRebs will be profiling every significant player on the UNLV roster in a series we call “Meet the Rebels.” Today’s focus: senior guard Anthony Marshall.
Read every preseason preview, and they’ll tell you that UNLV has its most loaded roster in upwards of 20 years. And that’s true. But no matter how many superstars and potential NBA draft picks the Rebels put on the court, it won’t matter unless they get good play from the point guard position.
That makes Anthony Marshall a very important person.
As a fourth-year senior — a rarity for the Rebels (and college basketball in general) — Marshall is ready for this moment. The hometown hero from Mojave High School has always envisioned himself in this position, and now he’s getting his shot. After splitting point guard duties last year, he’s set to lead the offense as the Rebels push for a return to the national elite.
Marshall is embracing the pressure and everything else that comes with being in charge of a title contender.
“I have to be in control,” Marshall said. “It’s up to me to go out there and control the game. No one man is going to do it by himself, so I’m not saying this selfishly, but I look at it like a quarterback. The quarterback has the ball in his hands on every play, and if he doesn’t play well, his team generally doesn’t win. That’s how it will be with me, so I look at it like I have to play well every single night for my team.”
In coach Dave Rice’s system, Marshall has to push the pace and find open shots for the Rebels’ wealth of finishers on the fast break. According to Synergy Sports data, Marshall sported a usage rate of 17.3 percent last season, which was second-highest on the team (Mike Moser led the way at 19.4 percent). Expect the ball to be in Marshall’s hands even more often this year, because he’s a trusted ball-handler on a team with a lot of moving parts.
Marshall was extremely effective on the break last year, and he was probably the team’s best penetrator. His ability to take the ball to the basket can’t be understated — he earned free throws on 15.7 percent of his possessions, which was the highest rate on the team last year among regular players. Though his field-goal shooting was not great (43.8 percent overall, 25.6 percent from 3-point range), Marshall’s knack for getting to the line made him a major asset on offense.
If Marshall can step up his outside shooting this season, the Rebels offense could be virtually unstoppable. And on defense, Marshall knows how to use his length (6-foot-3) to disrupt opposing players. His value on both ends of the court should make him one of the Rebels’ leaders in playing time this year.
He’s also a respected leader, which may turn out to be his most important job responsibility this season. Marshall knows it, and it’s a role he’s all too happy to assume.
“I’m definitely ready,” Marshall said. “This is my year to be the primary point guard, so it’s my job to communicate with coach on the sideline and put our guys in the right position and get my teammates open looks. That’s my responsibility.”
With Marshall, the Rebels are in good hands.
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