May's class act enters final story-filled scene as Iowa hosts Nebraska

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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No one is more desperate to snap the Iowa men’s basketball team’s seven-year NCAA Tournament drought than senior guard Eric May.

An Iowan who arrived in Iowa City during a time of great transition, May has played for two different head coaches, went from being a Big Ten All-Freshman selection to a backup, and has been part of the Hawkeyes’ 58-70 record during his career.

But now, in his final year, the guard sits a just few victories away from tasting the fruits of March Madness for what would be the first time of his Hawkeye tenure.

“The games are getting limited, and time is running out,” May told the Hawkeye Sports Network after a 73-60 loss to Indiana on Feb. 23. “I don’t want to think about it, so I’m just trying to do everything I can to keep playing.”

The Dubuque native, along with fellow senior Chris Rickert, will take his final bow on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena hardwood when Iowa hosts Nebraska on Saturday.

May knows emotions will be flowing throughout the afternoon and anticipates quite the contingency to be there to watch his Iowa City sendoff.

“[My family], they’re great. I can always hear them on the court,” May told the Hawkeye Sports Network. “They travel, they’re loud, and I can hear my sister at every game screaming ‘go 2-5’.”

After all of the tears, speeches, and farewells though, there will be a game of great importance — important not only for the Hawkeyes but also for a senior trying to finish an up-and-down career in style.

“The end of the Big Ten season here, I’ve really been trying to pick up my game,” May told the Hawkeye Sports Network. “This is it for me, and I really want to make it end with something special.”

Story lines abound as Iowa looks to finish Big Ten play with .500 record

Senior Day will not be the only story when the Hawkeyes (19-11, 8-9 Big Ten) hit the hardwood against Nebraska (14-16, 5-12). The Huskers defeated the Black and Gold, 64-60, in Lincoln on Feb. 23.

Iowa will aim to pick up its ninth conference victory, a mark it hasn’t hit since 2006-07. The Hawkeyes will also be shoot for their 20th win this season; something the program hasn’t accomplished since its 2005-06 campaign.

In addition, Marble sits just 2 points away from becoming the 41st Hawkeye to score 1,000 career points. The junior can also join his father, former Hawkeye swingman Roy Marble, as the first father/son duo in Big Ten history to each accomplish the feat.

“It would be a great accomplishment for our family,” Marble said after Iowa’s 63-55 victory over Illinois on March 5. “It will probably mean more to my dad because he’s not playing anymore, but it would mean a lot to both us.”

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery could add another notch to his basketball résumé as well this weekend, as he goes for career victory No. 300.

The third-year Iowa head coach knows how much time and effort both Marbles have given Iowa, and he noted how healthy their relationship has been on and off the court surrounding.

“Roy’s been good. He’s here and encourages Devyn but doesn’t crowd him or put pressure on him,” McCaffery said during his weekly teleconference on March 4. “It’s a very good relationship that I appreciate.”

A lot will be at stake when Nebraska invades Iowa City: the end of a grinding four-year career, a piece of father/son history, and a personal milestone for the face of Iowa basketball.

None of these stories, however, can cloud the amount of energy the Hawkeyes will need to keep their NCAA Tournament bubble together.

Because, a loss on Saturday to Nebraska will for sure pop it.

“There’s a lot we can do at home and the Big Ten Tournament,” May told the Hawkeye Radio Network last week. “I’m just hoping we can keep playing.”

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