Feb. 9, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Melsahn Basabe scanned the Media Room after the University of Iowa men's basketball team disposed of Northwestern, 71-57, on Saturday. When he found his target, fellow junior Roy Devyn Marble, he loudly and playfully yelled, "Kobe!"
Basabe was of course referring to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, and he was comparing Bryant's play to that of Marble, who just lit the Wildcats up for 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"He's like my brother, so I have a lot of names for him," Basabe said. "I call him Kobe because of his swagger and how he is. He's different from the rest of us. It's just Dev. I love him like family and I'm happy for him. I wasn't panicking when everybody else was."
Marble was coming off a two-game road stretch where he scored two points in 35 minutes. The Hawkeyes lost games to Minnesota and Wisconsin. In his previous five games, Marble made 8-of-44 shots from the floor.
On Saturday, Marble had an impressive recipe to bust a slump. He scored the first two points 28 seconds into the contest with a slam dunk. His first 3-point attempt was all net. He sank 8-of-13 shots from the field and all four of his free throw attempts.
"I have confidence in myself," Marble said. "I have to relax and play and not worry about what's going on outside. I've been getting workouts in, and hard work pays off. I will continue to do that and keep getting after it in practice."
"It's been tough, but nothing I can't handle. You have these situations and these times in life when you have different challenges. Individually, I was struggling shooting and scoring, and as a team, we were struggling closing out games. That happens to the best of teams. Hopefully we can get over that hump, improve and get another W."
Roy Devyn Marble
At that point, Marble was thinking rebounds, not points.
"(Northwestern) was getting too many offensive rebounds in the beginning, so my mind was more on that," Marble said.
Iowa got the rebounding situation under control, grabbing 34 in the game compared to 31 for the Wildcats. And by now, most Hawkeye fans have exhaled a long sigh of relief, and Marble's statistics line of 21 points in 30 minutes is etched in their minds.
"It's been tough, but nothing I can't handle," Marble said of his last two road outings. "You have these situations and these times in life when you have different challenges. Individually, I was struggling shooting and scoring, and as a team, we were struggling closing out games. That happens to the best of teams. Hopefully we can get over that hump, improve and get another W."
During recent days Marble has heard and read comments -- many critical -- of his play. But it felt like the Hawkeye fans inside Carver on Saturday were solidly in Marble's corner. When he exited the game for good with more than two minutes to play, he did so to a rousing ovation.
"The fans showed a lot of support for me," Marble said. "It's been tough and they stuck with us. After all those close losses it's easy to get mad and not support, but they have done a great job supporting all of us."
UI head coach Fran McCaffery was also solidly behind Marble, saying Friday in a news conference that it was never an option to have Marble relinquish his starting spot.
"It gives me confidence, especially when you're struggling down the stretch," Marble said. "You want to make sure your teammates and coaches still have faith in you and they did. At some point in time I had to get out of this, and mentally I feel I'm tough enough to do that."
Marble's time was Saturday. But this is the Big Ten Conference and there aren't many moments to sit around and celebrate. For Marble, it was already time to move on before he left the postgame interview area.
"I'm glad I played well and I'm glad we won," Marble said. "But we still need more wins. Right now I'm thinking about Penn State."
Iowa (15-9 overall, 4-7 Big Ten) plays at Penn State on Thursday, Feb. 14.
"We need a run," Marble said. "This was just a steppingstone to keep going."