MADISON, Wis. — Devyn Marble’s production inexplicably has unraveled in recent weeks and questions linger about his effectiveness moving forward.
Iowa’s junior go-to scoring guard averaged nearly 16 points a game after the team’s 13 non-conference games. But he has fallen apart offensively in Big Ten play, shooting just 25.3 percent and sitting out crucial moments at Minnesota and Wisconsin. No other Big Ten player’s performance has plummeted like Marble’s, and it’s painful for him, tough for his team and excruciating for his father, Roy Marble.
Roy Marble, the school’s all-time leading scorer, talks to his son almost every day and tries to fill two roles with Devyn as both a father and basketball confidant.
“I’m really trying to make sure I support him,” Roy Marble said, “but also give him the facts to make sure to get himself out of a jam, the way it is right now. You’ve just got to be mentally tough, and you’ve got to play through it.”
Devyn Marble averages just 8.8 points in Iowa’s 10 Big Ten games. But his struggles are more than just points; it comes down to making shots.
In league play, he’s 21-of-83 from the field and at times his stat lines are incredulous. He was 1-of-10 Wednesday in a double-overtime loss at Wisconsin. He was 2-of-11 at both Ohio State and Purdue. At home he’s also struggled with a 1-of-14 performance against Indiana and a 3-for-10 effort against Penn State.
In early January, Devyn Marble suffered a sprained ankle and turf toe, which kept him out against Michigan State. He was slow to recover but now seems healthy. Roy Marble said both Devyn and the Iowa’s training staff have assured him that his son is fine.
Roy Marble insists his son’s confidence remains high, but they both hear the whispers about Devyn’s performance.
“He has tough skin, but he’s no idiot,” Roy Marble said. “He can sense people are losing confidence in him themselves. I think right now is the first time he’s on a team where the fingers are pointing at him. I don’t hear anybody talking about anyone except him. But, again, that comes with the territory.
“He’s just got to be tough because right now he feels the whole world is coming down around him. I would be the same way if I was his age.”
Two weeks ago Devyn Marble scored 12 points but missed a last-second, 3-foot floater at the end of regulation in an overtime loss. He said afterward the missed shot would stick with him for a few days.
He rebounded slightly against Penn State, but slumped at Minnesota. He failed to score in a game for the first time since his freshman year and missed his only two shots. He was out of the game for an 11-minute, 25-second stretch in the second half. He re-entered late, only to commit a vital turnover and was promptly taken out in a three-point loss.
Wednesday, Marble’s only basket came on a putback of a previous miss. He had some good looks at the basket, but missed open shots. In the second half he was out from 14:12 until returning with 1:31 left. He did not attempt another shot.
“The funny thing is, I thought he was in the flow,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He was driving the ball, shooting the ball, he was attacking the basket. Nothing went down for him. Then same thing in the second half. Obviously his line isn’t good, but I thought at least he was aggressive early. That’s what I want him to be.”
McCaffery has considered bringing Marble in off the bench, but only if it would help him and the team.
“I don’t think taking him out of the starting lineup is the answer,” McCaffery said. “He is one of our guys. He is one of our key guys. He is our leading scorer. He is versatile, can play a number of different positions, and he’s an experienced guy. I think he just needs to play through it.”
Marble has NBA aspirations and those remain, his father says. But Devyn is 100 percent concentrated on playing at Iowa.
“I’m hoping he’ll stay confident and coach will stay confident in him, because he’s not going to get better sitting on the bench,” Roy Marble said. “I don’t think he has lost his confidence. I just don’t think he has an answer for why the ball won’t go in.”