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Hawkeye hoops may start both Marble and Cartwright

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | DECEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Devyn Marble has shone in Bryce Cartwright's absence.

A hamstring injury suffered against Brown left Cartwright hobbled on Dec. 3 . The senior point guard missed Iowa's game against Northern Iowa on Dec. 6, and he was limited to just six minutes against Iowa State on Dec. 9.

Marble assumed Cartwright's starting role, and he's been the Hawkeyes' best player of late. The sophomore played 37 minutes in each of those two games, averaging 17.5 points.

But with Cartwright close to feeling 100 percent again — coach Fran McCaffery said he expects him to "play and play well" on Saturday against Drake — Marble may be in for another role adjustment.

That's OK with Marble.

"It doesn't matter to me if I start or I come off the bench," said Marble, not batting an eyelash at the proposition of less playing time. "I obviously wouldn't be playing 37 to 40 minutes when Bryce gets back. Either way, I think I can contribute."

Cartwright wasn't available for comment, but if Marble's words are any indication, few have enjoyed his recent rise as much as his elder teammate.

Marble said Cartwright has been his No. 1 supporter.

"He wants to see me have success, and of course, he wants the team to have success," Marble said. "So during time-outs, he's in my ear telling me what I need to do. He's been there for me, so that's been good."

Marble's career-high 21 points allowed the Hawkeyes to close in on the Cyclones in the second half before they ultimately lost, 86-76. He's scoring efficiently, shooting 12-of-24 from the floor over the last two contests, but Marble's contributions don't end there. The Southfield, Mich., native also averaged 4.5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in that pair of games.

Not bad for a player who was converted into a point guard just last year.

"For him to step up as a sophomore, it's a tough position to be in," senior guard Matt Gatens said. "But he's handled it … He's doing a lot of things that I've been impressed with and I'm sure he'll continue to."

Even as good as Marble has been, it's difficult to quantify the lift Cartwright's full return would give Iowa. He led the Big Ten in assists during conference play last year (6.83) and became the second Hawkeye ever to average better than 10.5 points and 5.8 assists in a single season.

A healthy Cartwright would also rejuvenate Iowa's depth. He and Marble are the Hawkeyes' only scholarship players with significant point-guard experience.

"Bryce Cartwright's our starting point guard. He's a major part of our team," sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe said. "… We definitely need Bryce back."

Cartwright's full return might not necessarily dictate a return to the bench for Marble, though. As McCaffery noted Thursday in a teleconference, Iowa started both players in last season's final five games. Gatens noted the benefits of playing both simultaneously.

"It's a good dynamic to have both of them on the court," Gatens said. "They're both guys that can get to the lane, handle the ball. And they're smart guys."

McCaffery hasn't decided how he'll adjust the lineup in light of Cartwright's full return, he said. But the second-year coach didn't rule out a starting five that includes both Cartwright and Marble.

"We may choose to end up starting those two guys — but we may not," McCaffery said. "We may go back to bringing Bryce off the bench. We may go back to bringing Dev off the bench. I'm not 100 percent sure right now. I think you'll see it develop pretty easily over the next couple of games, and then we'll make a decision."

Follow DI men's basketball reporter Jordan Garretson on Twitter.


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