NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — The scary revelation isn’t how quickly Devyn Marble garnered the trust of his teammates and the respect of opponents.
It’s how much higher Marble believes his potential can elevate in comparison to his breakout sophomore season.
With Matt Gatens taking his talents away from Iowa City, Marble just might be the face of Iowa basketball during what promises to be the most hyped men’s basketball season in what seems like eons to Hawkeyes fans.
The whispers and murmurs pop up here and there — whether Marble has one or two seasons remaining in black and gold. He’s made no secret the NBA is on his mind, but that’s more on the backburner than anything else.
“Since the draft (June 28), it has been a little fire in my soul to keep pushing myself and helping the team get better,” Marble said last Sunday after a Prime Time League exhibition. “Because you can only do stuff like that if you help your team to be better and accomplish team goals.”
His emergence as a starting point guard during the nonconference slate and a memorable game-winning dunk on Minnesota’s Ralph Sampson III — eventually a GEICO Play of the Year nomination — stick out as 2011-12 highlights.
For now, the packed arenas can wait. Marble’s far more concerned with doing work in front of empty chairs, left alone to pursue his goals and dreams.
“To take it to the next level, you’ve got to keep working hard. You can’t be satisfied with what you did the year before,” said Marble, who ranked second to Gatens in minutes and scoring in 2011-12.
“You always want to continue to get better, (and it’s) because I want to get better, not because of what people expect of me.”
Priority one: buckle down defensively.
“He’ll tend to rest a little bit on defense,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery in February. “He just doesn’t sustain it from a concentration standpoint like he needs to. I’ve tried to explain to him, ‘If you want to play at the next level, you’ve got to do it at both ends of the floor.’ If he does that for himself, they’re going to pay him to play.”
This offseason, Marble is working on lateral quickness in his legs and moving his feet more consistently to guard a modicum of guards and forwards.
“The coaches are saying,” Marble said, “I’ve been challenging myself on defense a lot more this summer.”
Then, it’s shooting. Marble has been largely a volume scorer; his 39.3 3-point shooting percentage was acceptable in 2011-12, but shooting 44.8 inside the arc (compared to Gatens’ 52.7) was not.
“My jump shot’s been really good to me. Midrange, the 3, everything,” Marble said. “Not having to handle the ball as much isn’t taking such a toll on me fatigue-wise.”
Ah, yes, Marble the combo guard. With Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons joining the club, Marble said he hasn’t played a single minute of point in summer workouts. Depending on the lineup, Marble could even shift to the ‘3’ for a smallball look.
More responsibilities, for a guy who’s used to carrying a heavy load.
“I honestly believe I’m one of the most versatile guards in the Big Ten,” Marble said. “I can’t think of too many guards off the top of my head that’s played as many positions as I have, and has as much success at each position.”
So on goes Marble about his business, awaiting his chance to show his skills at the next level. One foot in front of the other, though.
“In the NBA, they don’t want people losing — they want winners,” Marble said. “So a lot of those guys have been winning, and that’s what I want to do here at Iowa, is continue that winning pattern.”