IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa’s senior class is rooted in Hawkeyes basketball history. Some of it you know. But maybe not all of it.
Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game against Illinois will be the final home appearance for Devyn Marble. He’s done a commendable job of stepping out of the footprint left by his father, Roy, Iowa’s career scoring leader.
Darius Stokes earned a scholarship in his final season after toiling as a walk-on. His father, Greg, is Iowa’s No. 3 career scorer. Marble, Stokes and fellow seniors Zach McCabe and Melsahn Basabe will be honored before Saturday’s regular-season finale.
Also being honored will be senior managers Jordan Decker and Tom O’Connor. O’Connor’s great uncle was Frank “Bucky’ O’Connor, who coached the “Fabulous Five” — Bill Logan, Carl Cain, Bill Seaberg, Sharm Scheuerman and Bill Schoof — to back-to-back Final Fours in 1955 and 1956. The Hawkeyes lost in the NCAA title game to San Francisco and Bill Russell in 1956.
Marble and McCabe were signed by former coach Todd Lickliter, who was fired before they arrived on campus. Both stuck around to play for new coach Fran McCaffery.
“They came here when it wasn’t fashionable to do,” McCaffery said.
Two other members of that recruiting class, Cody Larson and Ben Brust, asked for and received releases from their signed letters of intent.
“I get it, it’s a different world,” McCaffery said. “Guys will take off. But the ones who stay, and the ones who commit to you when they don’t really know you and yet they give you a chance, I think you always appreciate that.”
Basabe, who had signed to play for McCaffery at Siena, moved with him to Iowa. He has scored 1,112 points and grabbed 739 rebounds, starting 98 of 133 games.
“I’ll always be thankful that he wanted to come to Iowa and play for me,” McCaffery said. “That means a lot to any coach. And there’s the fact
that he’s been as successful as he has. Because when he was first being recruited, the label on him was he was not a BCS player, but a mid-major or high mid-major player. I’m thrilled for his development and the relationship that we have.”
Marble, who has 100 career starts, came in trying to carve his own identity. He enters Saturday’s game sixth on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,654 points. He needs 22 more to pass Ronnie Lester and crack the top 5. Marble, who has scored at least 20 points in the last five games, also ranks in the career top 10 in six other statistical categories.
“He’s as enjoyable a player as I’ve ever had in terms of doing everything you ask him to do and more,” McCaffery said. “He leads and he competes and he plays hard. He’s always where he’s supposed to be. To be able to put up the numbers he’s putting up with that tremendous attitude is phenomenal.”
McCabe has lived a lifelong dream the past four seasons. He’s scored 852 points and grabbed 500 rebounds, with 41 career starts. Saturday will be his 135th career game, the most in school history.
“Zach just wanted to be a Hawk,” McCaffery said. “He’s been phenomenally consistent. He started, didn’t start. He plays 7 minutes, then 37 minutes, whatever you ask him to do. He just gives you everything he’s got.”
Stokes has played in 38 career games.
“We needed a guy to come in and help us every day,” McCaffery said. “He’s as good a person as you’re ever going to find.”
The seniors joined a program that had won 10 games the previous season. They go out after putting together back-to-back 20-win seasons. Their careers are expected to end in the NCAA Tournament, a destination Iowa hasn’t seen since 2006. All four are on schedule to graduate this spring.
“For me, this will always be a group that I look at in a completely different way than some other classes,” McCaffery said.
No. 24 Iowa (20-10, 9-8 Big Ten) vs. Illinois (17-13, 6-11)
Specifics — 7:30 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
Following the game — TV: BTN Radio: WHO (1040 AM)
Preview — In losing four of its past five games, Iowa has allowed opponents to shoot 50 percent or better in eight of 10 halves. Foes shot 60 percent or better in three of those halves. In the first 12 Big Ten games, teams shot at least 50 percent in just four of 24 halves.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball