Three Runnin' Rebels Honored As MW Awards Announced
March 11, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV men's basketball freshman Anthony Bennett, sophomore Khem Birch and senior Anthony Marshall were all recognized as part of the All-Mountain West awards, which were announced by the league on Monday.
Bennett, a 6-8 forward from Brampton, Ontario, was named the league's Freshman of the Year and to the All-MW first team. Birch, a 6-9 forward from Montreal, Quebec, was honored as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, and made the all-defensive team along with All-MW Honorable Mention. Marshall, a 6-3 guard from Las Vegas, was second team All-MW and also on the All-Defensive Team - both for the second straight year.
The league's nine head coaches along with a selected media panel voted on the conference awards.
Bennett's Freshman of the Year honor is the first for UNLV since Dalron Johnson shared the award with Air Force's Tom Bellairs in 2000, and is the first outright since Kaspars Kamabala earned it in 1998 (Western Athletic Conference). Birch's Defensive Player of the Year honor is UNLV's first since Joel Anthony won in 2007.
UNLV has had at least three players honored by the league in each of the last four seasons. Last year, four Runnin' Rebels were recognized when all-conference awards were announced.
UNLV, which finished the regular season with a 23-8 overall record and a 10-6 mark in conference play, is the No. 3 seed for this week's MW Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Runnin' Rebels will face No. 6 seed Air Force in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, March 13 at 12:00 p.m.
Bennett, who started 13 of 16 conference games, was the league's top freshman scorer and ranked in the top 14 in five statistical categories in MW play, standing 14th in scoring (12.1 ppg), sixth in rebounding (7.2 rpg), sixth in blocked shots (1.1 bpg) sixth in offensive rebounds (2.3 rpg) and sixth in defensive rebounds (4.9 rpg). He led the team in points and rebounds in league games, also ranking first in field-goals made with 75 and field-goal percentage (min. 100 attempts) at 48.7.
Bennett was second in blocked shots and third in 3-point field-goal percentage at 35.1 (min. 30 attempts). He scored in double figures in nine league games and had 20 or more points in three games, including a season-high for conference games of 25 at Boise State. He led the team in double-doubles during conference play with three, including 17 points and 12 rebounds against New Mexico and 21 points and 12 rebounds vs. San Diego State.
Birch also started 13 of 16 MW games and blocked a league-high 48 shots. He led the conference in blocks per game by .75 per game at 3.0 bpg and was 12th in rebounding at 5.8 rpg. He was also seventh in offensive rebounds with 2.2 per game. He led the team in blocks by 30 and field-goal percentage at 53.8. He was second on the team in rebounding (5.8 rpg), fourth in steals (11) and fifth in scoring (7.3 ppg).
Birch blocked at least one shot in every league game, had two or more in 12 games and five or more four times, including three of his last six games. He scored in double figures in six league games, including three of the last six and had one double-double (career-high 14 rebounds with 12 points at Wyoming). In addition, he had at least seven rebounds in a game five times.
Marshall started all 16 league games and led the conference in assists by almost 1.2 per game with 6.4 apg. He also ranked 19th in league play in scoring with 11.3 ppg, second in minutes played with 36.1 mpg and third in assist/turnover ratio at 2.45. He led the team in assists and was second in scoring and steals (17). He also was third in field-goal percentage (min. 100 attempts) at 45.9 and fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage (min. 40 attempts) at 30.9.
Marshall scored in double figures in 10 league games and had 20 or more points in two games (back-to-back: 20 at San Diego State and 21 at Colorado State). He recorded a double-double with 18 points and a career-high-tying 12 assists with just two turnovers at Boise State and set his career-high with 12 assists against just two turnovers vs. Air Force earlier in the season. He recorded at least five assists in a game 13 times in league play and made at least one 3-pointer in 11 games.
In addition to Bennett, the first team was made up of San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin, Colorado State's Colton Iverson, New Mexico's Kendall Williams and Air Force's Michael Lyons.
Joining Marshall on the second team were New Mexico's Alex Kirk, Boise State's Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic, and Colorado State's Dorian Green. The third team consisted of San Diego State's Chase Tapley, Wyoming's Leonard Washington, New Mexico's Tony Snell, Colorado State's Pierce Hornung and Nevada, Reno's Deonte Burton.
Along with Birch, honorable mention went to Colorado State's Wes Eikmeier, New Mexico's Hugh Greenwood and Cameron Bairstow, Nevada, Reno's Malik Story and Fresno State's Tyler Johnson.
In addition to Birch and Marshall, the all-defensive team included Hornung, Kirk and Washington.
The Player of the Year award in the conference went to Williams; Iverson was the Newcomer of the Year; Colorado State's Daniel Bejarano was the Sixth Man of the Year and Coach of the Year went to New Mexico's Steve Alford.
LINK: Mountain West Release - Including Video