IOWA CITY, Ia. — Save the obituary, the flowers and the funeral arrangements. Devyn Marble is alive and well. Just ask him.
“Everybody’s thinking I’m about to die or something,” Iowa’s slumping junior guard said. “I’m fine. I’ve just had a rough month. I’m trying to look at the positive end of it and get back on track.”
Marble will try and break out of his swoon when Iowa hosts Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. today in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But it’s clear that his problems have evolved from sprain to brain.
A sprained left ankle and toe injury in practice before a Jan. 10 game with Michigan State kept Marble on the sidelines against the Spartans. He’s been a shadow of himself ever since. His ankle and toe are better. His confidence is not.
“I’ve never been through something like this,” Marble said. “You’ve got to be challenged somewhere. This is my challenge in life right now, trying to get wins and trying to get back focused.”
Marble’s scoring average has dipped from 15.5 points a game to 12.9 since his injury. His shooting percentage from the field has fallen from .423 to .383, his 3-point shooting from .377 percent to .331.
In the seven games since he was hurt, Marble is shooting 26.6 percent from the field (16-for-60) and 15 percent from 3 (3-of-20).
Marble was expected to inherit the go-to tag from Matt Gatens this season. Early in the season, Marble looked to be filling the role, including a 30-point game against Northern Iowa Dec. 15.
But he’s scored a total of two points in Iowa’s last two games, excruciating road losses at Minnesota, 62-59, and at Wisconsin 74-70 in double overtime.
Marble admits to thinking how Iowa’s record, 3-7 in the Big Ten and 14-9 overall, might be better if he had contributed a few more field goals.
“You always do that,” Marble said. “I did it as a freshman when we were losing. But you’ve got to get over that. I think I’ve done a goo
d job of trying to keep from thinking about the past and how a shot here or there could have changed the whole outcome of the game. I’m looking at the present and future.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has stuck with Marble in the starting lineup, and has no intention of changing that.
“My thing over the years is to tell them to keep shooting,” McCaffery said. “Keep setting them up. If they feel at any time like I don’t think they’re going to make it, they’re not going to make it. They have to believe the next shot they shoot is going in. If they believe it, it will.”
McCaffery has preached to Marble the importance of helping the team in ways other than scoring, whether it be a screen or a pass. Staying aggressive and hunting for good shots has also been stressed. McCaffery and Marble watched a film of the loss at Minnesota Feb. 3, a game where Marble missed the only two shots he attempted.
“He missed a shot,” McCaffery said. “I said, ‘Why do you think you missed that shot?’ He starts giving me 9,000 reasons why he thought he missed. I said, ‘You missed the shot because you were covered. You shouldn’t have taken that shot. That’s what keeps you in a slump, when you’re shooting contested shots. Shoot open shots, any open shot you want. You can take 30 open shots, but don’t shoot that one when you’re covered.’ He’s like, ‘All right, that makes sense.’ ”
Marble got in a workout before Friday’s scheduled practice, something he’s done since the semester break. He worked on shooting, trying to get the arch and accuracy back in his shot. He worked on conditioning and ballhandling, “little things to see if that can give me a spark,” Marble said.
He said he’s got the full confidence of his teammates, and he’s got proof.
“If they didn’t, they wouldn’t pass me the ball,” Marble said. “They do try to get me going.”
SATURDAY'S IOWA MEN’S GAME
WHO: Northwestern (13-10, 4-6 Big Ten) at Iowa (14-9, 3-7)
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
TIPOFF: 3:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $27 adults, $15 youth (18-under) and UI students.
TELEVISION: Big Ten Network.
RADIO: WHO-AM (1040)
STAT LEADERS: For Northwestern — Reggie Hearn 14.2 ppg; Jared Swopshire 6.7 rpg; Dave Sobolewski 4.3 apg; for Iowa — Aaron White 13.8 ppg; White 6.0 rpg; A. Clemmons 3.7 apg.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS: Northwestern has won its last two games at Carver-Hawkeye — 70-66 in 2012 and 90-71 in 2011. The Wildcats have not won three straight in Iowa City since running off four in a row between 1928 and 1932. Iowa’s 70-50 victory at Northwestern on Jan. 13 snapped a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Aaron White is one of three Big Ten players to average at least 13.8 points and six rebounds. The others are Cody Zeller of Indiana and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Iowa freshmen Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury and Northwestern freshman Kale Abrahamson, a former W.D.M. Valley standout who had an offer from the Hawkeyes, were teammates on the Martin Brothers All-Iowa Attack AAU squad.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball