Is Anthony Marshall a point guard?
It's rare for a team's chances of success to be reduced to a single question, for the difference between being merely good and truly great to rest almost entirely on one player. But that is the situation at UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels have everything they need to be an elite squad except a proven player at the game's most important position. "It's a challenge for me," says Marshall, a senior who was a second-team All--Mountain West Conference shooting guard last season, "and I want that challenge because I think I can handle it."
UNLV is loaded in the frontcourt, where forward Mike Moser, who bypassed the NBA to return for his junior season, is joined by role-playing veterans Quintrell Thomas and Carlos Lopez-Sosa; top 10 recruit Anthony Bennett; and Khem Birch, a transfer from Pittsburgh who will be eligible in December. In the backcourt shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, a transfer from USC who has NBA athleticism, has been slowed by a broken left hand, so touted freshman shooter Katin Reinhardt and senior Justin Hawkins, one of the nation's best defenders, will see more minutes early in the season.
If Marshall can get all that talent in sync, UNLV should end a three-year streak of losing its opening game in the NCAA tournament. "I think we are already seeing him embrace that point guard mentality," coach Dave Rice says.
Marshall has embraced it for the good of the team and also with the knowledge that his chances of playing in the NBA likely hinge on his making this transition. "I'm not 6'7"," he says. "If I am going to play at the next level, it is as a point guard. But I'm not thinking too much about that now. We've got this deep team with all these pieces, and it is in my hands to be the guy who gets everyone going. There will still be times when I'll need to get mine, but I know that I first need to be the guy who is getting everyone theirs."
ROUND OF 32
ROUND OF 64
Projected Starting Five
COACH Dave Rice (2nd season)
2011--12 RECORD 26--9
MOUNTAIN WEST 9--5 (3rd)
WHAT'S BACK Minutes: 56.2% Points: 58.8% Rebounds: 69.7%
*2010--11 USC stats
‚Ä†High school stats
18 YEARS since a member of the Runnin' Rebels has had consecutive seasons with double figures in points and rebounds, a feat that Mike Moser has the potential to achieve this season.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
ANTHONY MARSHALL The 6'3" senior has shown a playmaking side, and he'll have plenty of scoring options to feed up front.