Marshall takes note of soaring expectations surrounding Rebels

Not much escapes the eyes of Anthony Marshall. Essentially, if something is written about the UNLV basketball team, he sees it and remembers it.

“I read everything,” he said. “I just take mental notes.”

He casts a wide net that goes far beyond the mainstream media, too.

“I’m on Twitter, everywhere. I go on message boards,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been doing since high school. I just see everybody’s opinion.”

So, Marshall has a firm grasp on what is expected from the Rebels during his senior season, which began Saturday morning with a two-hour practice that was attended by an estimated 400 fans at the Mendenhall Center.

There were fans tailgating in the parking lot while music blared. Players posed for photos and signed autographs. Several members of the local media – from newspaper, radio, TV and Internet – watched as the Rebels ran the court, rebounded and missed too many free throws.

Asked if UNLV has the look of a top 10 team, freshman guard Katin Reinhardt replied, “Definitely.”

Marshall was prepared for such a bizarre scene on the fourth day of August, more than three months before the opening game. He understands the hype, dismissing it on one hand and welcoming it with the other.

“The fans are showing their dedication and support,” Marshall said. “As a player, it means a lot. It’s appreciated and humbling at the same time. Other years I’ve been here, to start off, we really had no hype and we came out and made a statement.

“But hype really means nothing. It’s nice to be acknowledged, but we can’t read into the hype. If you look at us on paper, I think we have one of the most complete teams. But going out and proving it, that’s another story.”

The Rebels were running sooner than usual in preparation for an exhibition tour to Canada, with Saturday marking the first of 10 practice days. Second-year coach Dave Rice held another practice, minus the fan attention, in the evening.

Marshall, a Mojave High School product, will be the focus of a lot of attention this month as he transitions to the role of starting point guard. He has started 71 of 101 career games at UNLV, but more responsibility is riding on his broad shoulders now.

“Anthony has done a terrific job of leading our team,” Rice said. “I moved him to a slightly new role. He has so much experience. You think about the number of college games that he’s played and the success he’s had.”

Marshall is ready for the change, and he’s eager to lead, along with junior forward Mike Moser, the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder and a first-team All-Mountain West Conference performer.

“With me, Mike and Justin (Hawkins), we have a luxury of so many guys who are leaders on this team,” Marshall said. “I read somewhere that a leader never stops learning, so for me that’s something big.

“I feel like this is my team. But I can’t just talk about it. I have to demonstrate by example by being the first one in meetings and being the last one to leave the gym and stuff like that.”

There are some doubts out there about Marshall’s ability to play the point, according to what he has seen on Twitter and message boards.

Marshall averaged a career-high 12.2 points as a junior, when he also compiled 154 assists and 103 turnovers. Oscar Bellfield, last season’s starting point guard as a senior, totaled 189 assists and 80 turnovers.

“If you look at last season, I was second in the conference, only behind Oscar, in assists. My turnover-to-assist ratio was pretty good,” Marshall said. “I read a lot of stuff, and a lot of people don’t think I can play the point.”

He plans to start exhibiting his counterpoint in Canada.

■ NOTES – As anticipated, Rice said Anthony Bennett, a freshman forward from Findlay Prep, will not practice or play in the exhibitions in Canada. The NCAA did not approve Bennett’s eligibility until July 26, so he was unable to enroll in summer school on time. Bennett, who is home in Toronto, is cleared academically to play in the fall. …

Incoming transfers Khem Birch (Pittsburgh) and Roscoe Smith (Connecticut) attended practice but did not participate. “We’re getting clarification from the conference office,” Rice said. “We thought that both Khem and Roscoe would be able to practice. That may not be the case, so we’re erring on the side of caution. It’s tough to get an answer on the weekend.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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