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Dad influences Marble on the court

[ 0 ] March 25, 2013 |

Devyn Marble was reluctant the first time his father suggested that he start playing point guard.

The younger Marble already had established himself as a dependable shooting guard in high school, but his father wanted more for his son.

Roy Marble thought that with Devyn’s size — he was listed at 6-foot-5 coming out of high school — learning to play point guard would provide more opportunities in the future.

“I wouldn’t let my son grow up just being exactly like me,” Roy Marble said Monday in a telephone interview. “You’re supposed to get better with time, and he knows that I’ve always stressed that you’ve got to be able to go left, right, and there is no reason why you can’t be a big point guard.

“I always told him that through high school. He didn’t want to play it in high school. I had to talk to his coach about it.”

Devyn Marble eventually accepted the challenge of playing point guard and now his decision is paying huge dividends for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.

“He just keeps getting better,” McCaffery said.

Devyn Marble, who now is listed at 6-6, will make his ninth consecutive start at point guard when Iowa faces Virginia in the NIT quarterfinals Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va.

“I think it was more so the responsibility of it all because it just seemed awkward to him,” Roy Marble said of Devyn’s reluctance to play point guard. “And all I was thinking was when he gets ready to go to college, some college coach is going to be very happy that he knows how to dribble as well as you do.

“So I’ve always tried to stay ahead of him regardless of what he wanted. I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be able to handle this ball.’”

If Marble’s performance in the first two NIT games when he combined to score 54 points is any indication, the Cavaliers will have their hands full trying to contain him. Marble also combined for just two turnovers in Iowa’s NIT victories against Indiana State and Stony Brook despite being his team’s primary ball handler at point guard.

“It doesn’t surprise me when he gets going like this,” Roy Marble said of his son. “He’s looking out for his team. And I think his maturity and his love for his coaches and teammates has a lot to do with it, too, because now he feels like it’s something he’s supposed to be doing and he has responsibilities. I think he is just gravitating to it.”

Devyn Marble was recruited to play shooting guard, but McCaffery felt the same way as Roy Marble did about Devyn’s versatility. McCaffery experimented with Devyn Marble at point guard as a freshman and even more so last season.

That made it so Devyn was ready and able to step in when starting freshman point guard Mike Gesell was sidelined for the last four regular-season games because of a stress reaction in his right foot. Gesell has since returned, but McCaffery still thinks Iowa is playing better with Marble at the point, especially with Iowa’s other freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons struggling.

“That is what we are going to go with, and I would say it is until Mike gets to 100 percent,” McCaffery said.

Roy Marble always has wanted more for his son than what he had while growing up, including success as a basketball player. Roy Marble, who also stood about 6-6 in college, played at Iowa from 1985-89 and still is ranked as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points.

His teams at Iowa had more success than Devyn’s teams have had, with the Hawkeyes playing in the NCAA Tournament in each of Roy’s four seasons in the program. But Roy never could match his son as a ball handler.

Roy was selected in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft, but he was limited to playing mostly shooting guard during his brief career.

“That’s one thing that if I could change what I needed to work on when I got to college was my ball handling,” Roy Marble said. “I got better and better as time went on. But for him being my son, I try to keep him ahead of what’s up next.

“He didn’t understand why I wanted him playing point guard in high school. But I knew exactly what it would do as far as when he got to (college) and it’s worked out just perfect now.”

Roy Marble hopes that Devyn’s size and his ability to play point guard will help pave the way for an NBA career.

Devyn Marble caused a stir last summer when he said he would consider skipping his senior season to enter the NBA draft. Some perceived it as him over-estimating his ability, but Devyn said he was simply answering a question that was asked to him.

“That’s all it was,” Roy Marble said. “I think that motivated him when everybody jumped on him. I think people underestimated who my son really is. He’s quiet, but he has the same inside that I have. If you doubt me, I’m going to remember.”

Roy and Devyn both had the same career goal when they left the state of Michigan to play basketball at Iowa. Roy Marble grew up in Flint, while Devyn is from the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich.

“He came here for an opportunity to go to the NBA,” Roy Marble said of his son. “That’s why I came here. That’s what we do. So if you’re going to take my dream away before I can even get to it, I’m going to be pissed off and I’m going to play hard. But I’m going to let my dream go on.”

Roy Marble said he was told by several former NBA players while attending the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago earlier this month that Devyn has what it takes to play in the league. Roy said NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird and former star point guard Tim Hardaway both spoke highly of Devyn’s NBA potential.

“The first thing out of their mouths was, ‘Hey man, he’s solid, he’s going to be a pro,’” Roy Marble said. “They didn’t have to tell me this stuff.”

Devyn Marble has more immediate goals that he would like to achieve, beginning with leading Iowa to an NIT championship.

He then will focus on a senior season that he hopes will be capped by a trip to the NCAA Tournament where Iowa hasn’t been since 2006. Devyn and Roy already are the only father and son in Big Ten history to score at least 1,000 points in a career. Devyn also made third-team all-Big Ten as a junior this season and he figures to be one of the top players in the conference next season.

“My son’s eyes got big when I told him about what could happen next season,” Roy Marble said. “I said, ‘Hey man, get this done and get ready for next year because you’re finally going to know what it was like for me. You’re now going to find out what it’s like to be big time as far as the team being respected and having the body of work to back up what they’re doing.”

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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