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Hawks putting missed free throws behind them

[ 0 ] December 21, 2013 |

If Devyn Marble wasn’t studying for final exams this past week, chances are he was shooting free throws at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It was his way of moving on from the heartbreak when he missed a key free throw down the stretch that helped Iowa State escape with an 85-82 victory Dec. 13 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

“You just get back in the gym and do whatever you need to do to get yourself back to where you need to be mentally,” Marble said Thursday after practice.

Marble will be back in the gym Sunday when Iowa faces Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-8) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the final non-conference game of the season. A victory would improve Iowa’s record to 11-2 heading into its Big Ten opener against Nebraska on New Year’s Eve at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Sophomore guard Mike Gesell is in a similar situation as Marble after also experiencing heartache at the free throw line against the Cyclones. Gesell missed two free throws in the closing seconds.

“For me personally, the next time I’m just going to step up there with confidence,” Gesell said. “I can’t let that stay in the back of my mind. I’ve just got to put it behind me.”

Marble said it felt good when he released his free throw, which ultimately bounced off the rim.

“Those are the worst,” said Marble, who scored 19 points in the loss to Iowa State. “When you think it’s going in, I think that’s more upsetting than anything else.

“We’ve all been in those situations and we’re going to be in them throughout the season more times than not. So what you do is get back in the gym and work on shooting free throws or whatever you have to work on to just get ready for that next opportunity.”

Marble and Gesell both have struggled at the free throw line this season compared with last season. Marble is shooting 65.8 percent from the free throw line after converting on 81.0 percent of his attempts last season. Gesell is shooting 66.7 percent from the free line this season after making 79.4 percent of his free throws last season.

“For me, I think it was more mechanics,” said Marble, a 6-foot-6 senior, who has scored 1,325 points as a Hawkeye. “People were saying I was putting a little bit too much arch on my free throws than I was last year. So I’ve just kind of gotten back to how I was shooting free throws last year.”

Gesell thinks his missed free throws against Iowa State were more a case of him just not delivering in a hostile environment.

“They shouldn’t factor in, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t factor in at all,” Gesell said of the distractions at Hilton Coliseum. “But at the same time, they felt good to me, just a little bit long, especially the second one. So I don’t think there was anything wrong with my mechanics. I just have to step up there and just knock them down.”

Marble said a big part of the challenge with shooting free throws is mental.

“You can do all the mechanics and stuff, but if you don’t have confidence, it’s still not going in,” Marble said. “So I’m just trying to find a balance with everything all together. But I’ll be alright.”

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery isn’t concerned about lingering effects from the missed free throws against Iowa State.

“It’s one of those things where they’re good shooters,” McCaffery said. “Over the course of a season their percentages are going to be good. Now we always want them to make every one. And when Mike misses, you’re shocked. Certain guys we have when it doesn’t go in, you’re surprised. And Mike is one of those guys.”

McCaffery also believes that Marble will improve his free throw percentage to at least 75 percent before the season ends.

“So I don’t really talk about it,” McCaffery said. “I won’t address it. I always encourage them to get extra free throw shooting in. And we actually require it, especially over the break. It’ll be addressed. But it’ll be addressed across the board.”

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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