By definition, Anthony Marshall never was a shooting guard. In his first three years at UNLV, he was a poor perimeter shooter.
As a senior, he’s trying to develop into a point guard, and by definition, he does not play the position like Steve Nash or Chris Paul. So when Marshall calls the Rebels "a work in progress," he knows he’s part of the reason the team still is searching for its identity.
He reads criticism of his play on Internet message boards and Twitter, not to mention mainstream media sources, and chooses not to ignore it.
"I’m one of the guys who like to read stuff like that, and it kind of gives me motivation," Marshall said. "People say I’m turnover-prone, and I put guys in bad positions. I’m just trying to play within the offense."
At the same time, he’s getting positive reinforcement from coach Dave Rice, who knows the size of the challenge Marshall is taking on and his importance to the team’s progress.
"Anthony and I talk all the time about how he’s playing," Rice said. "It’s always hard to make that transition from shooting guard to point guard, and he continues to get better."
UNLV (11-2) is not going to prove a point of any sort when it hosts Chicago State (4-12) at 7 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Cougars come in as 32-point underdogs and rank 295th in the nation in the Ratings Percentage Index.
But it’s another opportunity for the Rebels, who dropped out of The Associated Press Top 25 after a loss at North Carolina on Saturday, to develop chemistry and tune up their offense for conference play.
"We really have not had a chance to all come together as a collective group," Marshall said. "I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like when we all get together."
Junior forward Mike Moser will not play today. Moser, who suffered a dislocated right elbow Dec. 9, made a surprising return against the Tar Heels and logged 12 minutes off the bench.
Although Moser was medically cleared to play and has not experienced a setback in his recovery, Rice said he made the call to sit Moser until he’s closer to full strength.
"I just think it’s best for Mike to be 100 percent, like the Mike that we know, before we play him in a game. He has made remarkable progress in his rehab. I’m glad I played him. He helped us in that game," Rice said. "But I know that Mike can’t always be objective because he’s so tough and he loves to play."
Rice left the option open for Moser to return Saturday against Cal State Bakersfield, and he seems almost certain to be in the lineup when UNLV opens Mountain West play Wednesday at New Mexico.
"He’s not 100 percent," Marshall said, "but at practice, he’s been looking pretty good."
Marshall said the Rebels have shown only "glimpses" of how good they can be, and the same might be said of his play at the point. He scored 15 points and had eight assists and one turnover against North Carolina.
As a freshman, Marshall shot 1-for-23 from 3-point range, and he hit only 25.6 percent of his 3s last season. This season, while moving from an off-guard spot to the point, he has made 16 of 31 (51.6 percent) 3-pointers.
Opponents once dared him to shoot from the perimeter, but that’s not the case anymore.
"It’s pretty frustrating when teams disrespect you like that. You would hear it all the time, and it’s got to be on the scouting report," Marshall said. "I’ve got the opportunity to make them pay, and that’s what I’m doing now."
Marshall leads the conference in assists with 71, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 2-1.
"He’s tried to become a pass-first guy, and because of that, I think he’s been a little more selective with his shooting," Rice said.
How far UNLV goes this season could depend on Marshall’s progress as a point guard, but his shooting no longer is a problem.
"I felt I took some bad shots in my younger years," he said. "A lot of it is due to maturity, knowing when to take good shots and when to get my teammates involved.
"I have some great teammates around me, so they demand a lot of attention. I just try to knock down the open ones when I get the opportunity. It feels pretty good, but there are more parts to the game than that."
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.CHICAGO STATE VS. UNLV
• WHEN: 7 p.m. today
• WHERE: Thomas & Mack Center
• TV/RADIO: KTUD (14), KWWN (1100 AM, 98.9 FM)
• LINE: UNLV -32; no total