Iowa's Marble puts slump in the past
Hawkeyes' junior leads Iowa in scoring for third straight game
IOWA CITY -- It was time to do the TV postgame interviews at center court. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was front and center. The Iowa player the Big Ten Network wanted was Devyn Marble.
He stood behind McCaffery. When the coach noticed Marble, he turned and gave him a quick hug and said...
"I said, 'That's who you are,'" McCaffery said. "And I told him I was proud of him."
It's been a nutty month or so for Marble. Starting at Ohio State on Jan. 22, he struggled through an 8 of 44 stretch (19 percent) from the field. On Feb. 3 at Minnesota, the junior forward took just two shots and played a season-low 17 minutes. The next game at Wisconsin was a 1-for-10 night in just 18 minutes, including just a few in the two overtimes.
Marble is again who he is and, more specifically, who McCaffery needs him to be.
Marble tied for the team-high 15 points in the Hawkeyes' 72-51 victory over Minnesota on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He also had four rebounds, three steals and two assists. He hit 2 of 4 from the 3-point arc.
He also played 36 minutes. When Marble went through his slump, the minutes dipped. He owns five of the top six minute totals in games this season for Iowa. The minutes, as much as anything, say Marble is playing with more confidence.
"It gets to a point sometimes where you just keep getting asked over and over what's wrong, and he was in a little bit of a slump," McCaffery said. "For the first time [since "the slump"] I thought he was playing. He's never been a tentative guy. He's not a tentative person in anything he does, and I thought he was a little tentative at Minnesota and at Wisconsin."
This was the third straight game Marble has led or shared the team lead in scoring. It's also his third straight game in double figures after missing that mark five times in a seven-game stretch.
Marble's awakening also happens to coincide with Iowa's three-game winning streak.
"I didn't really call it that [a slump]," Marble said. "You guys called it that. I just had to settle down and start making shots. It was just a rough stretch, we have those. I guess y'all's word is a slump. I've been fine. I'm just enjoying playing."
Slump, rough stretch, McCaffery said his confidence in Marble never wavered.
"I just said, 'Look, you're my guy,'" McCaffery said. "'I'm staying with you. I'm going to keep running stuff for you late [in games]. I'm going to have you on the floor late. I want you to shoot the ball, I want you to attack the basket.
"'The only thing I'm going to say to you is sometimes when guys get into shooting slumps, they over-analyze the shot. Sometimes, you're shooting when you're covered.' And he had a tendency to do that in that stretch, so, therefore, the percentages are going to be lousy.
"I said, 'Shoot the ball when you're open, drive the ball in your space. Move the ball when you're covered and just be who you are, and we'll be fine.'"
"Be who you are," it sounds so simple.
"I really just wanted to keep winning," Marble said. "I don't know what our record was during that stretch, but I knew my team needed more out of me."