IOWA CITY — Devyn Marble has heard the stories.
He’s heard about the 37 points his father, Iowa career scoring leader Roy Marble, put on the board in his final Big Ten road game at Illinois in 1989.
He’s heard about classic comebacks and gut-wrenching heartbreaks.
The Hawkeyes junior soaked it all in, but he understands that more has changed than the length of players’ uniforms since his father took the court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It’s a much different game today, and I have to forge my own path,” Marble said.
He feels prepared to do that as the go-to player on an Iowa basketball team that tips off the season today, hosting Texas-Pan American at 8 p.m.
The experiences he has had in his first two seasons in an Iowa uniform have prepared him.
“I have to take on more responsibility this season,” Marble said. “It’s my time.”
Coach Fran McCaffery believes that as well. He has watched Marble grow in each of his first two seasons at Iowa.
“First, we saw a skinny freshman have some phenomenal moments,” McCaffery said. “Then we saw him establish himself in this conference as one of the premier players in the league last year. So now what’s the next step?”
Marble and McCaffery agree that it entails building on the finish he had to last season.
He averaged 5.7 points and 19 minutes per game as a freshman, a solid season after joining Iowa from Lathrup High School in Southfield, Mich., where recruiters didn’t exactly stumble over each other to sign Marble.
Former Iowa coach Todd Lickliter’s staff took a chance on a legacy, and Marble reaffirmed his commitment shortly after McCaffery arrived in the spring of 2010.
“He’s a terrific talent, and we started to see that come to the forefront at the end of last year,” McCaffery said.
Still playing in the shadow of Matt Gatens, Marble found success at point guard last season. He doubled his scoring average and tripled his assist total.
“As the season went on, I got more comfortable,” Marble said. “I was able to come out and be more aggressive, look for my shot, that type of thing. I think some of it was experience, some of if was just trying to impact things more.”
He showed his offensive potential in the final game, scoring 31 points in a season-ending loss at Oregon in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Marble buried 7 of 8 shots from 3-point range against the Ducks and hit a career-high 10 field goals to go with five rebounds and five assists.
“That game told me a lot about what I was capable of,” Marble said. “It provided me with a blueprint of what I can do, and that has been good motivation as I worked during the offseason.”
Sophomore Aaron White believes Marble has the potential to become a matchup nightmare for opponents.
“I think taking him off the ball, which is the plan, is going to be really good for him,” White said. “How are you going to guard him? You’re not going to put a 6-8 guy on him because he’ll blow right by them. If you put a little guard on him, he’ll shoot over them.”
The arrival of Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons in the Iowa program means that Marble will shift from the point to shooting guard this season.
McCaffery expects Marble to continue to have the ball in his hands, but welcomes the possibilities he sees in a new role.
Instead of looking for his points on isolation plays, Marble has prepared to score in different ways this season. He’ll take more jump shots. He’ll get looks as he comes off screens.
“I’ll have the chance to put what I’ve learned the last two years to work,” Marble said. “I think I have an understanding now of the type of player I can be at this level, and I think the best is still ahead for me and for our team.”
Marble said it is not unrealistic to expect a similar jump in his scoring average this season to the improvement he realized between his freshman and sophomore years.
“I have to take on more responsibility and step up my game,” Marble said. “We’re still a pretty young team when you look at it — Eric (May) is the only senior — so it’s up to the guys who have been around to lead, and I’m welcoming that challenge.”
McCaffery believes it is a role Marble is prepared to fill.
“He’s got a game. He’s got confidence. He’s got a body,” McCaffery said. “At the end of his freshman year, we moved him into the starting lineup, and he was making big shots for us. He’s not afraid of the limelight in a big game. He wants that, so he’s going to have that opportunity. We’re going to go to him, and a lot of nights, he’s going to take more shots than anybody else, and he’s going to make them.”
Marble welcomes that challenge, forging his own path every step along the way.
“I can’t wait to see where this leads,” he said. “I’m ready.”
Texas-Pan American at Iowa
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
TV: Mediacom Channel 22
Radio: WOC 1420 AM, KROS 1340 AM, WMT 600 AM
Coming off the program’s most successful season since 2007-08, the Broncos will start a veteran group of players, but fourth-year coach Ryan Marks has 11 newcomers, including five junior-college transfers, on the roster. Brandon Provost, a 47.4-percent shooter from 3-point range, is the top returning scorer on a team picked third in the Great West Conference.
Third-year coach Fran McCaffery expects to start two freshmen on a deeper and bigger club than he has worked with the past two seasons. The average height of the probable lineup is 6-foot-6, and McCaffery plans to play a 10-player rotation.
Iowa’s opener is the second game of a doubleheader, following a 5:30 p.m. women’s game between the Hawkeyes and Northern Illinois that is an opening-round matchup in the Preseason WNIT.