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Harty: Marble is Iowa’s security blanket

[ 0 ] March 20, 2013 |

Junior Devyn Marble is listed as the starting shooting guard for the Iowa men’s basketball team, but that hardly tells the whole story of his impact.

The 6-foot-6 Marble is more like a security blanket for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, as evidenced by his stat-sheet stuffing performance during Wednesday’s 68-52 victory over Indiana State in the first round of the NIT.

On a night when Iowa’s two freshman point guards struggled, Marble came to the rescue by scoring 24 points, dishing out six assists, grabbing five rebounds and collecting four steals in 34 minutes of action.

Marble played point guard for most of the second half because starter Mike Gesell was noticeably hindered by the stress reaction in his right foot and because Anthony Clemmons was ineffective.

“It’s phenomenally important because the same time Mike is injured, Clemmons is struggling,” McCaffery said. “So now I have my junior that steps up and look at his line.

“How great is that?”

The only downside to Wednesday’s victory, which improved Iowa’s record to 22-12 overall, was Gesell’s lingering foot pain.

Iowa barely has 48 hours to prepare for its second-round game against Stony Brook on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

My guess is that Gesell won’t play Friday or perhaps for the rest of the season after hearing McCaffery say afterward that he was “very concerned” about Gesell’s injury.

Marble’s versatility would make it easier for McCaffery to rest Gesell. Clemmons also has shown a knack for bouncing back after a poor performance.

So it’s not as if Iowa would be short-handed at point guard without Gesell.

You hate for him to miss any games, especially an NIT game at home, but there is Gesell’s future to think about.

McCaffery also has Marble to help deal with the present.

“To me, playing point guard I’m just the primary ball handler,” Marble said. “It’s not like it’s a burden or anything like that. That doesn’t bother me at all. I’m comfortable. I play well with the ball in my hands. I can pick my spots and create for others like I did today.”

Marble’s versatility was a burden and a bother to Indiana State coach Greg Lansing because nothing Lansing tried in the second half on defense seemed to work.

“He’s good,” Lansing said. “You don’t see many point guards with that size.”

Marble’s father, Roy Marble, is similar in height to his son and he also played at Iowa from 1985-89 and still ranks as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points. That’s about where the similarities end, though, according to Lansing.

“He plays a little different than his dad,” said Lansing, who spent seven seasons as an Iowa assistant coach from 1999-2006. “He’s so good with the ball in his hands and he’s unselfish, too.

“He gets to the basket. I know he took 15 shots, but if you get that deep and get to the rim, he’s a tough matchup, and he I knew he would be. But they’ve got a few of those, too.”

Marble was hardly a solo act on Wednesday.

Sophomore forward Aaron White recorded his fourth double-double of the season and the eighth in his career by grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring 11 points. The 6-8 White was held without a rebound during last Friday’s 59-56 loss to Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Junior forward Zach McCabe also provided a spark off the bench by scoring eight points, all of which came in the second half.

In fact, McCabe scored all eight of his points in less than two minutes. He made two free throws after Indiana State was called for a technical foul for having six players on the court and he hit back-to-back 3-point shots to help Iowa pull away.

McCabe’s second trey expanded Iowa’s lead to 47-34 with 12:30 remaining and it whipped the sellout crowd of 15,400 into a frenzy. Sophomore guard Josh Oglesby made another 3-pointer about two minutes later to put the game out of reach for all intents and purposes.

The Iowa players all received nice ovations from the fans while McCaffery emptied his bench in the closing seconds. Marble received a hug from McCaffery after he was removed from the game for the last time. Marble then went down the Iowa bench slapping his hands with all of his teammates.

“He’s the most versatile guy on our team,” McCabe said of Marble. “He can play any position for us. He was aggressive tonight. He was just taking it at them and they couldn’t stop him, so he just kept taking it at them. He was great for us tonight.”

Junior forward Melsahn Basabe said Iowa’s two freshman point guards will learn from this experience and will have better days.

But just in case, Marble is ready to fill in when needed, as was the case Wednesday.

“It’s just part of their growing process, so it’s nothing that they should be disappointed about as long as they keep trying to get better,” Basabe said of Gesell and Clemmons. “But that’s what the older guys should be there for.”

Marble was there in a big way on Wednesday.

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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