April 1, 2013
NEW YORK CITY -- The bright lights of Times Square and the hustle and bustle of Broadway have not distracted the University of Iowa men's basketball team as it prepares for Tuesday's National Invitation Tournament semifinal against Maryland.
The Hawkeyes call their journey to the NIT a business trip, and they mean it.
UI head coach Fran McCaffery gave the student-athletes an opportunity to browse Times Square on Sunday night after a team meeting and meal. Most of the Hawkeyes declined, opting instead to spend an evening hanging out and laughing with friends.
"I went up to the room and was kicking it with the guys; laughing and stuff like that," UI junior guard Roy Devyn Marble said. "We watched a move -- Django -- nothing over the top."
McCaffery and four UI players met media Monday at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The Hawkeyes then loaded a charter bus and practiced at the Jerome S. Coles Sports and Recreation Center on the campus of New York University.
Iowa is treating the NIT semifinals with the same routine it used for any of the 11 road or neutral-site games the Hawkeyes played this season.
"I would like to do more, but we're here to win a championship. We thought about doing something (Monday) in terms of taking them to Wall Street, but with a banquet tonight, the press conference, meetings, we won't have any time. This is a great opportunity for them, but the key for us is to remained focused on why we are here."
UI head coach
Iowa is 24-12 this season and 6-10 away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes earned a signature road win against a quality Virginia opponent in their last outing March 27 to reach the NIT semifinals.
"We have been coming to big cities and taking trips all year," UI senior forward Eric May said. "Our staff does a good job keeping it businesslike. They have us on a pretty good schedule so we're ready to go."
Sophomore forward Aaron White also passed on an opportunity to walk around the "city that doesn't sleep." He elected to sleep.
"I was tired from a long day," White said.
Junior forward Melsahn Basabe -- a native of Glen Cove, N.Y. -- won't change his routine because of a return to his home state.
"I'm going to follow the process and follow the routine we usually have," Basabe said. "You treat things no different -- you need to be mentally ready, locked in, and focused."
Like Marble and White, Basabe stayed inside Sunday night while the lights of Times Square shined bright on the windows of his hotel room.
"I hung around and laughed with teammates," he said. "I've seen all this stuff before, so it's not a big deal to me. I'm here to enjoy the tournament."
In NIT victories against Indiana State, Stony Brook, and Virginia, Marble scored 76 points. His 25.3 points per game scoring average is second-highest of all players in the tournament, trailing Tyler Haws of Brigham Young (28.7).
"I want to keep playing with the same flow and pace to my game I have been playing with during the last couple weeks," Marble said.
Iowa and Maryland play the second of two NIT semifinals Tuesday in Madison Square Garden, beginning at 8:30 p.m. (CT). The championship is scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m.