Rising Above the Rest
April 1, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
"It made me feel good that my coaches and teammates had confidence in me to do the right things," said Marble, a 6-foot-6 guard. "It was a challenge in life that I had to get over."
During his five-game slump, Marble averaged six points, shooting 18 percent from the field while the team suffered a 1-4 record. Since Feb. 9, the junior has exploded for an 18.8 scoring average, shooting 43 percent from the field, leading the team to a 10-3 record during that span.
So what, if anything, did Marble learn during those challenging two weeks in late-January/early-February?
"Sticking to what you know," said Marble. "I didn't try doing anything different than what I've already done. My slump was a couple weeks, but I've been playing basketball for years. You must have confidence in yourself, and hopefully you're surrounded by teammates like I have and the support system to overcome those obstacles."
Senior Eric May was proud of his fellow co-captain in how he handled the hardship.
"He's a guy that never lets things get him down," said May. "He's always at an even keel. He never gets too high or too low. I love that about him. He's modest and humble when he has success."
During the difficult period for Marble, head coach Fran McCaffery remained positive and kept believing in his guard.
"He's a guy that kept working and believing in himself," McCaffery said. "I told him 'you're my guy, I'm going to stay with you,' and he knew that. He just overcame a little blip there in the middle of the season where his shot was a little off. Usually that's not a problem for him. And right now, his numbers this postseason have been phenomenal."
Indeed. Of the teams competing in New York tomorrow night, Marble ranks second in NIT scoring (25.3 ppg.), first in steals (3.0), third in assists (5.3), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.0), and sixth in field goal percentage (.490) and 3-pointers made (1.7).
Marble's play determination, work ethic and play has impressed his teammates.
"He's playing the best basketball that I've seen him play," said sophomore Aaron White. "You look at his numbers, and he's doing everything. He's scoring the basketball, rebounding, and getting after it defensively. You can tell he doesn't want to stop playing. He wants to win our last game this year."
"He's playing at an elite level," said classmate Zach McCabe. "He has carried our team this season and the way he has played these last few games shows how much hard work he has put in."
ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich had high praise for the Hawkeye junior during Iowa's NIT quarterfinals victory over Virginia.
"Devyn Marble has been nothing short of sensational in the NIT," said Dakich. "I've seen him on the court two hours before games working with an assistant coach; that's why he's going to be a candidate next year for Big Ten Player of the Year."
Every player goes through shooting slumps during their careers. As Marble mentioned earlier, having the support and confidence from coaches and players makes a big difference.
"That shows how great are teammates are," McCabe said. "We knew Devyn was struggling, but we knew he eventually was going to get out of that slump."
The opportunity to win an NIT championship is driving Marble and his teammates.
"We want to finish this tournament off," said Marble. "We failed to get the championship in Cancun, and the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, so this is the next championship available. We want to make the most of this opportunity."
Iowa and Maryland meet in the NIT semifinals Tuesday at approximately 8:30 p.m. (CT) at Madison Square Garden in New York City.