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Will the real Devyn Marble please stand up?

BY TORK MASON | FEBRUARY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery said he urged his star player to get back to what once made him successful, with the hope that it would break a lengthy slump.

Devyn Marble did just that in a 71-57 victory over Northwestern on Feb. 9 in Carver-Hawkeye. The junior dropped 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and notched 5 rebounds and 5 assists against the Wildcats to post his best performance in nearly two months. He threw down dunks, hit a 3-pointer, posted up on smaller defenders, and showed more explosiveness than in recent weeks.

McCaffery said that’s the Marble he’s accustomed to seeing, even though he felt the Southfield, Mich., native has worried too much about his jumper lately and had gotten away from the other effective parts of his game.

“I just keep telling him, ‘Just be who you are,’” McCaffery said. “Play the game with reckless abandon. Be an attack player. Play with confidence.

“I’m sticking with you. I’m not yanking you.”

That level of confidence might come as a surprise to some, considering Marble’s play over the past few weeks. He entered the Feb. 9 game riding a horrific slump. Marble was shooting 25 percent in conference play, and he scored just 10 points in his previous three games combined.

He just didn’t look like himself.

“Everybody was thinking like I’m about to die or something,” Marble said. “It’s just one of those situations; I had a rough month.”

But who is Devyn Marble? If you ask Melsahn Basabe, the Hawkeyes have an NBA star in their midst. The junior walked into the media room following the game and immediately tried to get his roommate’s attention.

“Kobe. Hey, Kobe.”

Basabe explained himself minutes later.

“I’ve been calling him that,” he said. “The guy’s like my brother, so I’ve got a lot of names for him. I call him Kobe [Bryant] just because of his swagger, just how he is. He’s different than the rest of us. He’s just Dev.”

Marble got himself on track early and threw down a two-handed dunk just 28 seconds into the game that brought the Carver-Hawkeye crowd members to their feet. At that point, there was a sense in the air that the real Marble was back. But Basabe couldn’t figure out why people thought he returned.

“He never left,” Basabe said. “People think he left because he’s had a couple rough patches. He didn’t leave; he’s just battling.”

Basabe, who went through his own extended slump last season, said he never doubted his friend despite his struggles. He said he expects strong performances from Marble and won’t make a huge deal out of his big night. The junior forward did offer Marble some advice born of experience, though.

“What I told him is don’t start second-guessing yourself and don’t forget to have fun,” Basabe said. “I think I took it too hard in my rough patch; I should have just stayed the course. It’s a journey; you can’t let one day determine the next.”

Marble said it was relieving to get back to playing solid basketball, but he felt that it was only a matter of when, not if, he would get there.

“At some point in time, I had to get out of this,” Marble said. “And mentally, I feel like I’m tough enough to do that; that’s why I’m where I am at today.

“The good players will find a way to prevail.”


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