IOWA CITY — The conversation was deep and it was real.
Four years ago when his son, Devyn Marble, considered attending Iowa on a basketball scholarship, Roy Marble talked at length with Devyn about the family legacy. Roy asked Devyn if he handle the spotlight, the Iowa City microscope and the pressure from Iowa fans. Devyn Marble, now a junior, said he could.
Now, four years later, the Marble legacy is about to become Big Ten legend.
The Marbles are poised to make history Saturday as the first father-son tandem to each score more than 1,000 points in Big Ten history. With two points against Nebraska, Devyn Marble will become Iowa’s 41st player to reach 1,000 career points. Roy Marble is Iowa’s all-time leading scorer at 2,116 points.
“Man, believe or not, (Saturday) is really big,” Roy Marble said. “I saw where this could happen if the work was put in. The work was put in. It just sneaked up on me anyway. I’m just so happy for him. For me, I’m the proudest dad in the world. No getting around that.”
In the midst of a long season, Devyn Marble admits he’s not concerned with personal accolades. He’s the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer at 14.4 points a game, and he wants to steer the team toward the NCAA tournament. But minutes after scoring 21 points in a win Tuesday against Illinois, Devyn Marble was stunned to find out about the family milestone.
“That would mean a lot to me and my dad, especially my dad,” Devyn Marble said. “I think it would mean more to him since he’s not playing anymore. I think it would be a great accomplishment for my family.”
Devyn Marble’s journey to 1,000 points began in the Detroit area, 500 miles from Iowa City. He committed to Iowa before his senior season and finished a stellar career at Southfield Lathrup High School. Roy Marble resides in Cedar Rapids and was thrilled to have his son join him near his home.
They talk frequently, and Roy remains a presence at nearly every game.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said Roy’s legacy is well-known at Carver-Hawkeye Arena but it doesn’t overshadow Devyn. In fact, McCaffery said both have embraced it.
“Roy has been great,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think Devyn ever looks at it that way. I think he comes in and does his job. He performs in a very businesslike manner, and I think that’s what you want from your best player. You need that approach. Roy has been good from the sense that he encourages him. He’s here. He doesn’t crowd him or put pressure on him. I don’t think Devyn feels that at all. I think it is a very good relationship that I appreciate.”
Roy also appreciates McCaffery’s approach with Devyn. McCaffery alternates back slaps with confrontations, which Roy said Devyn needs. Roy said the family accomplishment is as much about the coaching the two have received as it is their play combined play on the court.
“We’ve reached these milestones, and I’m so happy for Fran,” Roy Marble said. “RD (Roy Devyn) wouldn’t be where he is without a great teacher, a tough-love coach and a guy who puts him in those positions.
“I just feel blessed as a father to have the opportunity to have a son who’s playing right now at the high level at the same university. I’m happy for the University of Iowa. Coach (Tom) Davis and Fran. That’s like two decades of similarity in expectations and excitement of Iowa basketball.”
There’s been adversity along the way. Devyn Marble withstood a crippling nine-game stretch midway through the season, hitting just 21-of-83 field goals. Before a home game, Roy alerted media members before a home game that he planned to leave early because another son, Merrick, had his senior night at West Des Moines Valley. Roy didn’t want people to think he was walking out on Devyn.
They worked on Devyn’s slump together. Roy gave Devyn advice and helped him make adjustments.
“It’s a different era but the game hasn’t changed,” Roy Marble said. “The mental toughness you have to have has not changed. I continued to give him examples of what it was like when I went through it, then what I did to get through it.”
It all since has come together for Devyn Marble. Over his last seven games he’s 42-of-88 and averaging 19.3 points. He’s knocked down 41 of 45 free throws in that span. He’s playing with an obvious confidence that he didn’t display a month ago.
With two points against Nebraska on Saturday, Devyn Marble has a chance to stamp his family name in the Big Ten record books. It’s exciting, but not his first consideration.
“I think that’s cool, being able to change the game a little bit and setting a different kind of trend,” Devyn Marble said. “But at the end of the day, all the accomplishments don’t mean much if you don’t win.”
Like father, like son.
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