IOWA CITY – Devyn Marble first floated it out there over the summer, the chance that he might leave Iowa’s basketball program after his junior season to test the NBA waters.
After breaking out of a slump to average 16.8 points and help the Hawkeyes win seven of their last 10 games this season, Marble’s trial balloon had some air under it. But he popped those notions Tuesday.
“I’ll be back,” Marble said. “I still have more things that I want to accomplish here. I really like how the program and the team are doing. And I really want to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
Iowa, 21-12 and reaching the 20-win standard for the first time in the program’s last seven seasons, was one of the last six teams left out of the NCAAs when the field was announced Sunday. The Hawkeyes’ consolation prize is Wednesday’s 6 p.m. first-round NIT game with Indiana State.
Marble discounted the notion that he and his teammates would rather be enjoying spring break than playing in the NIT.
“Spring break really isn’t any fun if you’re not playing basketball,” Marble said. “I’d rather be playing basketball. And the team feels the same way.”
Iowa fans must be excited, too, judging by the nearly 15,000 tickets that had been sold by 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. Iowa averaged 13,428 fans while going 16-2 at home this season.
“It’s a tremendous for me as a coach and our players to know that our fans continue to support this team, and that they’re going to show up and provide a great college basketball atmosphere and one that we’ve come to enjoy and appreciate,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to play as well as we have in other home games. I know we’re going to play really hard.”
Indiana State, 18-14, is coached by former Iowa assistant Greg Lansing, who was on the staff o of the Hawkeyes’ last 20-win season in 2005-06. The Sycamores’ resume includes wins against NCAA Tournament teams Miami of Florida, Mississippi, Creighton and Wichita State.
“Nothing comes easy, I think that’s the best way to describe them,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “When you’ve got the basketball, very seldom are they going to allow you to do what you want. You’re have to have your secondary options. And when Jake Odum has got the ball in his hands, he is one heck of a weapon.He can beat you in so many different ways.”
Odum, a 6-foot-4 junior, was a first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection after averaging a team-high 13.8 points. He finished in the MVC’s Top 10 in scoring, assists and steals.
“I’ve never seen anyone play like him before,” Marble said. “ He has some height and length to his game. He’s crafty. You’ve got to keep in front of him and stay in tune with him, because you never know what he’s going to do. Half the time, I don’t think he knows until the last second.”
Iowa freshman point guard Mike Gesell, who reinjured his right foot against Michigan State Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, returned to practice Tuesday. He and Marble will both get a crack at Odum.
“He’s different than any other player I’ve gone against,” Gesell said. “He’s great at getting to the basket and making crafty plays for others or making baskets himself. And he can shoot from the outside. He’s a guy who has to have your full attention.”
WHO: Indiana State (18-14) at Iowa (21-12)
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
TIPOFF: 6 p.m.
TICKETS: $15 adults, $5 youth (18-under) and UI students.
RADIO: WHO-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network.
STAT LEADERS: For Indiana State — Jake Odum 13.8 ppg; Manny Arop 5.2 rpg; Odum 4.6 apg; for Iowa — Devyn Marble 14.1 ppg; Aaron White 5.9 rpg; Anthony Clemmons 3.0 apg.
ABOUT THE SYCAMORES: This is Indiana State’s third consecutive post-season appearance under coach Greg Lansing, a former Iowa assistant and Harlan native. The Sycamores have averaged 19 wins in Lansing’s three seasons as head coach.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa has assisted on 63.5 percent of its made field goals this season (500 assists on 787 field goals), which ranks 19th nationally.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Iowa was 16-2 at home this season, and has won 17 straight games against unranked opponents. Indiana State is 4-9 in true road games this season.
The Register’s Rick Brown will be in Iowa City for Wednesday night’s game with Indiana State. Get live updates at HawkCentral.com, and follow Rick on Twitter @RickBrownDMR.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball