Nevada seniors Fenner, Marshall hope to win title
RENO — Nevada will say goodbye to two talented seniors — D.J.Fenner and Marcus Marshall — prior to today’s regular-season finale against Colorado State.
It promises to be an emotional ceremony, especially for Fenner, the only holdover from the David Carter era. He has seen both the good and bad in the program, and he’s averaging nearly 15 a game while developing into a tremendous 3-point shooter.
Fenner, who said he cried at his Senior Night at high school, has his plan in place.
“I told my family I want to get the sentiments out of the way (early), so I can get ready for the game,” he said.
That may be easier said than done when 11,000 fans give you a standing ovation. Even the most serious of players might break down and get emotional.
Fenner said the four years has passed much too quickly.
“Goodnesss gracious,” Fenner said. “I remember coming here on my visit and following Deonte Burton and Jerry Evans. Jr. around, and now it’s over. Hopefully I leave this campus with some kind of legacy and some type of pride that I helped pave the way for upcoming guys.”
Fenner is one of 15 players in Nevada history to score more than 1,300 points. He can surpass former Galena star Luke Babbitt with a good performance against CSU.
“He (Fenner) means a lot to this program,” Marshall said. “We’re roommates on the road, so we talk a lot. He talks to me what it was like a couple of years before I got here and how everything turned around. I respect him as a man and a basketball player.”
Marshall, a senior transfer from Missouri State, has seen only positive things in his two-year stay. He watched from the bench during his redshirt year when Nevada won the College Basketball Invitational title, and Marshall became a crowd favorite from the moment he stepped on the floor. He’s averaging nearly 20 points a game en route to becoming Nevada’s best single-season 3-point shooter, and he’s bound to add a few more against a tough CSU team.
Marshall admits choosing Nevada was one of the best decisions he’s made. And, he said Musselman was the reason he chose Nevada over the likes of Creighton, Minnesota, Iowa State and Iowa. Certainly the Big 10’s loss was Nevada’s gain.
“Most definitely,” Marshall said when asked if he’d gotten what he expected out of his Nevada career. “I think the first time I talked with coach (Eric) Musselman, and he told me about his vision and the direction for the program. He’s a man of his word.
“I was looking for a school that could compete to make the NCAA Tournament and win a conference championship. He knows so much, not only at the next level (NBA), but overseas. Obviously he knows what he’s doing. Before I made my decision I had to put 100 percent of my trust into a coach.”
Musselman is sorry to see both go, and he knows the emotion needs to be channeled properly.
“Last year was the first time I’d been involved in a Senior Night since my son was in high school,” Musselman said. “It is emotional. I remember going through it with TC (Tyron Criswell) and Marqueze (Coleman) last year, and I found myself getting emotional and I’d only been with them for a year. Being around Marcus for two years, and D.J. has meant so much to the program. It is emotional for everybody. The game takes precedence over everything else.
“Both D.J. and Marcus have done a phenomenal job all year. D.J. was the only one here before we got here. Just to hear from his parents, and they didn’t know if it would ever get to this point where we would be playing for something this late in the season. Marcus was the first guy we recruited. His level of talent is incredible. D.J. was the only one left (after the coaching change), and I’m sure it was tough on him. He handled it very professionally.”
Musselman said he was looking for an impact player when he recruited Marshall and he has been rewarded with key basket after key basket.
With their departure, Nevada will be losing not only talent, but leadership.
“When I wasn’t playing that well; going through my slump, D.J. texted me and said ‘let’s get back on it,’” Marshall said. “Obviously D.J. wants to make the tournament; wants to win the championship. Ever since then (getting the text), I try to lock in and listen to what he’s saying because he is usually right. D.J. leads by example. He works hard at his game. He is always in the gym getting shots up.”
“D.J. is vocal, and Marcus leads by example,” Musselman said. “D.J. is vocal even in film (study). All guys look to D.J. from a body language standpoint whether we’re up or down. He is a stabilizing force. Late-game guys defer to Marcus. You look into Marcus’ eyes and he has a quiet confidence.”