IOWA CITY — A day after Iowa gave up 95 points at Virginia Tech, Iowa freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons flipped his gold jersey inside out and wore black at his Wednesday practice.
“There really wasn’t any explanation,” Clemmons said “(Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery) put me in the lineup and put me on the black team and it went from there. Everybody still attacked each other like it was a regular day. Otherwise it was a flip of the jersey color.”
It’s a subtle move, but it represents something more than jersey color. Clemmons moved to the starting lineup that day, and it could be a while before he switches it back.
Saturday in his first start, Clemmons had five assists in 21 minutes to help Iowa rout Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 88-59. Regular starting point guard Mike Gesell shifted to off-guard, and Devyn Marble moved to the wing. All three played more than 20 minutes. Forward Zach McCabe, who started Iowa’s first seven games, came off the bench and scored seven points in 12 minutes.
Marble liked bringing Clemmons into the lineup early. Clemmons is a stout defender and that move helped set the tone. The Islanders didn’t score until their seventh possession and Iowa was up 9-0.
“The defensive intensity starts with (Clemmons),” Marble said. “He’s at the point, and he’s one of our better defenders. When you’ve got a defensive-minded point guard, he’s at the top developing the pressure and the energy feeds off on the guys behind him. It will lead to better defensive possessions throughout the game.”
McCaffery didn’t make any long-term commitments to the starting lineup, just saying “we’ll evaluate that.”
“I felt like Zach would benefit from coming off the bench,” McCaffery said. “I felt he was pressing a little bit. I probably did it more for Zach than I did for Anthony.
“This is a team that is a small, quick, so it also helped us match up a little bit.”
Clemmons touts Gesell as the better scorer, so moving Gesell to the off guard might help the offense develop. Gesell scored nine points Saturday, grabbed four rebounds and added four assists.
“Mike’s just seen as a scorer in the offense we play,” Clemmons said. “I think with him off the ball, I think with coach seeing that, he’s more comfortable there. As a point guard, he’s still excellent. With his scoring ability, he should play off the ball.”
Marble scored 15 points Saturday, including 13 after halftime. He’s the only player to score in double figures in every game for Iowa and leads the team with a 14.5 point-per-game average. He said the offense doesn’t change with the starting point guard, but it runs differently.
“I don’t think we necessarily lose our offensive orientation when Sapp’s (Clemmons) our point guard, because he can create for others,” Marble said. “He just doesn’t shoot as much as Mike does. I think that’s the only difference. Mike’s a good defender, too. It’s just that they bring it in different ways. It’s kind of hard to explain.
“The mix-up with them together is really good. They played well (Saturday), so hopefully that continues.”
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