Marble back at the point for Iowa men's basketball ahead of Virginia showdown

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team is 6-2 since freshman point guard Mike Gesell suffered a foot injury in late February, and Devyn Marble is a big reason.

Gesell tweaked the injury in a 65-62 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament on March 15, and Marble has spent much of his time manning the controls in the Hawkeyes’ first two NIT victories. The junior is averaging 25 points, 5.5 assists and just 1 turnover per game in the tournament.

Head coach Fran McCaffery said putting the ball in Marble’s hands to start every possession has been beneficial for the team during Gesell’s recovery.

“[Marble] clearly enjoys having [the ball],” McCaffery said. “He’s making plays and is not turning the ball over. He’s very unselfish and is scoring a lot more. It seems to be having a comforting effect, as everyone around him feels good with him with the ball.”

Point guard is not an unfamiliar role for Marble. The Southfield, Mich., native spent time at the position in each of his first two seasons in Black and Gold — including the majority of last year. But he moved to shooting guard at the start of this campaign, thanks to the additions of Gesell and fellow freshman Anthony Clemmons.

McCaffery said this move could be for the long term, despite the temptation to place Marble’s scoring ability on the wing.

“We feel like we should move him to the 2 spot because he’s big and can score, but we keep coming back to maybe he’s better with the ball,” McCaffery said in a teleconference on Monday. “Right now, our team is playing as well as we have all year with him with the ball.”

One of the biggest advantages Marble gives the team while playing at the point is size, both in his individual matchups and for the lineup as a whole.  Marble said that makes his job easier.

“Even when [smaller defenders] try to get up into me, I handle the ball good enough where it won’t bother me,” Marble said. “I can see over them and make the passes, where they need to be made and on time.”

He also allows McCaffery to use a much bigger lineup in which senior Eric May starts at the 2. That’s something McCaffery said would have seemed unimaginable a couple years ago, but May’s play this season has afforded the coaching staff the luxury of going big.

But perhaps the most noticeable difference from Marbles’ two games at point guard and the rest of the season has been the way the Hawkeyes have finished games. Sophomore Aaron White said that’s because of increased efficiency in the half-court game.

“Earlier in the season, we weren’t very successful at [executing efficiently in the half-court],” White said. “Our half-court game was a little stagnant — people weren’t moving, but [against Stony Brook on March 22], we ran a little time, got into our sets.

“A big part of that is the way Dev’s been playing.”

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