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Marble wants to get magic back against Northwestern

[ 0 ] February 8, 2013 |

Junior guard Devyn Marble has lost his shooting touch, but not the faith of his head coach.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery didn’t mince words when asked Friday if he would consider removing Marble from the starting lineup in preparation for today’s game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“No,” McCaffery said without offering further explanation.

Iowa (14-9, 3-7 Big Ten) has lost four of its last five games by a combined 19 points and only once in those five games has the 6-foot-6 Marble scored in double figures. He combined to score just two points in Iowa’s last two games, including being held scoreless during a 62-59 loss at Minnesota this past Sunday.

Marble followed that up with a 1-of-10 shooting performance during Wednesday’s 74-70 double-overtime loss at Wisconsin. He has combined to make just 8-of-44 field-goal attempts in the last five games, including 2-of-17 from 3-point range.

Marble is also shooting just 38.3 percent from the field since injuring his ankle and toe in practice before the Jan. 10 game against Michigan State. He sat out the Michigan State game and has struggled ever since returning to the lineup.

“You just have to smile, sometimes,” Marble said. “You’ve got to overcome adversity. It happens to the best of us.

“You’ve just to find a way of getting over that hump. And that’s what I’m doing right now.”

Marble had been Iowa’s leading scorer for much of the season, but now his 12.9 points-per-game average is second on the team behind sophomore forward Aaron White’s 13.8 average. Marble is averaging just 8.8 points in conference games.

He was expected to fill the void left by former all-Big Ten guard Matt Gatens, who used up his eligibility last season. Gatens was Iowa’s go-to player last season, especially with games on the line.

Marble has played that role a few times this season, but very little against Big Ten opponents. It’s been more a case of Iowa trying to close games by committee. But for the most part, it hasn’t worked.

“In our case it’s nice because you don’t really know where we’re going to go,” McCaffery said. “We have a number of different options. We just need somebody to go ahead and make a basket in that situation.”

Marble said he noticed that his shot had became flat, so he’s worked in practice these past few days to correct that.

“I’ve been working on that and just finding other ways to get myself going, other than scoring,” said Marble, who is the son of Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, Roy Marble. “I’ve been trying to rebound and still create for my teammates and also still trying to be aggressive.”

McCaffery is hoping that Marble can play himself out his funk. Marble scored in double figures in 15 of his first 17 games this season, including a season-high 30 points during an 80-73 victory over Northern Iowa on Dec. 15 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Marble’s career-high is 31 points, which he scored against Oregon in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament last season.

McCaffery said Marble could help his cause by taking better shots. Marble always has the green light to shoot, as does sophomore guard Josh Oglesby, but only when they’re open.

McCaffery used a recent film session to show Marble the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.

“The one thing I said to Dev while we were looking a film, he missed a shot in the Minnesota game,” McCaffery said. “I said, ‘why do you think you missed that shot?’ He starts giving me 9,000 reasons why he missed the shot.

“And I said you missed the shot because you were covered. You shouldn’t have taken that shot. I want you to shoot, but not that one.”

Marble believes that his teammates also want him to keep shooting.

“They still have confidence in me,” Marble said. “If they didn’t have confidence in me, they wouldn’t still pass me the ball.”

Marble and his cohorts will try to complete a regular-season sweep over Northwestern after pounding the Wildcats 70-50 on Jan. 13 in Evanston, Ill.

Northwestern made just 5-of-26 3-point shots in the first game, but now has had a week to prepare for the Hawkeyes. Northwestern, with records of 13-10 overall and 4-6 in the conference, hasn’t played since defeating Purdue 75-60 last Saturday.

Both teams face an uphill climb with regard to making the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern never has made the NCAA Tournament, and Iowa hasn’t gone since the 2005-06 season.

“I really want to get these games,” said Iowa’s lone senior, Eric May. “I really want to get to the NCAA Tournament. That’s the ultimate goal. It’s just staying with it and doing everything I can to get it done.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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