Over the last four seasons Roy Devyn Marble was a mainstay on the Iowa basketball team, averaging 12.5 points, 3.4. rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for his career in Iowa City. Marble was following in the footsteps of his father Roy, who after playing four seasons at the school from 1985-89 left as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
In August the elder Marble was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, with the illness beginning in his lungs and spreading to other parts of his body. As a result Marble made the decision to move from Cedar Rapids, Iowa back to his hometown of Lansing, Michigan, and his youngest son Carlo went along with him. Carlo’s well on his way to being the next member of the family to head off to college, with schools recruiting him for both basketball and football.
He’s now attending Sexton HS where he plays basketball for head coach Carlton Valentine (his son Denzel currently plays basketball at Michigan State). Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal wrote a story on Marble’s move back to Lansing, and Carlton Valentine’s words regarding his relationship with Marble stood out.
“He called me to see how I was doing,” Carlton said. “I said, ‘You called me to see how I’m doing? How are you doing, man?’ He called to check on me. That’s crazy. Anytime he calls or texts, I’m nervous.
“He told me, ‘I trust you with my son.’ What else are you going to say? That’s a dying man saying he trusts you with his son.”
The full story can be read here.
Iowa may hear its name called when the NCAA tournament bracket is announced on Sunday, but the Hawkeyes aren’t entering the event playing good basketball. Thursday night Iowa fell 67-62 to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, their sixth loss in the last seven games.
Looking solely at the score it wouldn’t seem as if the defensive issues that have plagued Iowa throughout conference play were present on Thursday night, but they were. Northwestern shot 52.3% from the field and made 11 of its 23 attempts from beyond the arc, with guard Tre Demps scoring a team-high 20 points. Drew Crawford (15 points) and Dave Sobolewski (ten points) also scored in double figures for Northwestern, who will face Michigan State on Friday.
Iowa’s allowed at least 1.04 points per possession in every game they’ve played since beating Northwestern on January 25 (0.64 points allowed/possession), and on Thursday the Wildcats managed to score 1.15 points per possession. The defense has been an issue for quite some time for Fran McCaffery’s team, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to find a solution.
But even with that being the case it was assumed that Iowa would have enough offensive firepower to survive. Things didn’t work out that way against Northwestern.
Roy Devyn Marble scored 25 points and Jarrod Uthoff added 17 off the bench, but the other Hawkeyes combined to shoot 7-for-38 from the field. Starting guard Mike Gesell missed all ten of his shot attempts and Aaron White attempted just two shots (making both). Iowa can’t win in the Big Ten tournament, much less the NCAA tournament, when this level of offensive production occurs and sure enough the Hawkeyes are headed home after one game in Indianapolis.
Chris Collins’ team picked up a big win on Thursday, and the Wildcats certainly deserve credit for their performance. But Iowa has struggled mightily down the stretch, and the tumble will certainly impact their seeding in the NCAA tournament. The talent’s still there, but without the ability to string together stops the Hawkeyes may not be around very long.
Offensively No. 24 Iowa enjoys the luxury of having multiple scorers capable of reaching double figures on any given night. Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White are the only players averaging double figures for Fran McCaffery, but six different players have led the team in scoring in at least one game this season. In their 86-76 loss at No. 22 Michigan State on Thursday it was Marble who led the way, scoring 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting to go along with five assists.
As a team the Hawkeyes shot 46.7% from the field, a respectable number when considering the fact that Iowa made just seven of its 20 attempts from beyond the arc. But offense hasn’t been much of a concern for Iowa this season. It’s the defense that has proven to be problematic, and that was once again the case in East Lansing.
Michigan State shot 58.3% from the field and 10-for-17 from beyond the arc, making more than 63% of their shots in the second half. The Spartans certainly deserve credit for their offensive execution in the second half, most notably Keith Appling knocking down some shots that could get him going after struggling mightily thanks in part to an injured wrist. But Michigan State was able to get the looks it wanted far too often, and that’s a concern for an Iowa team that has struggled defensively for much of conference play.
Iowa entered Thursday ranked 11th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense and tenth in three-point percentage defense. Given the tempo that Iowa prefers to play they’re going to allow points, as they led the Big Ten in tempo by nearly four possessions per 40 minutes. But that doesn’t excuse the percentages that teams are shooting.
Clearly Iowa has both depth and talent; they wouldn’t have 21 wins if that weren’t the case. But for whatever reason those attributes haven’t translated to the defensive end of the floor, with ten straight opponents scoring at least one point per possession. And in three of their last four losses Iowa’s allowed teams to score at least 1.2 points per possession, with Michigan State finishing the night at 1.28 points/possession.
Games tend to slow down in tournament play, which makes half-court execution incredibly important. Iowa can hold its own offensively, but if the Hawkeyes don’t find some answers defensively their time in the NCAA tournament will be short.