ANN ARBOR, Mich. –Devyn Marble wants to shorten up his bucket list.
Wednesday night’s 6 p.m. Big Ten game against Michigan at Crisler Arena is a good place to start.
“I’m trying to knock a couple of teams off the bucket list,” said Marble, a senior and Michigan native who has never experienced the thrill of victory at Michigan or Michigan State during his Iowa basketball career. “I got both of them at home. I want to get them (on the road). It’s an important game because it’s the next one. Each game is important when you’re in the race to win a Big Ten championship.”
No. 10 Iowa comes to Crisler Arena 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten. The only league loss was at Wisconsin, 75-71. No. 21 Michigan, 13-4 overall, is 5-0 in the league race after handling the third-ranked Badgers in Madison last Saturday, 77-70.
Wednesday’s game could well swing on which team does the best job against the opponent’s 6-foot-6 green-light guard: Marble for Iowa, Nik Stauskas for Michigan.
Marble leads Iowa in scoring at 16.3 points a game. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said that Marble “has the green light” to create both in the open court and when set plays break down.
Stauskas, who averages 18 points, has the same freedom. Or some version of it.
“He has a green light as I see a green light should be,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “My green light might be different than another green light. But we want him to be aggressive.”
While Marble has taken 226 shots this season, 93 more than any Hawkeye teammate, Stauskas’ 170 shots are just three more than Glenn Robinson III. But Stauskas, who added 16 pounds to his frame after a summer dedicated to the weight room and polished his ability to put the ball on the floor, remains a deadly perimeter shooter.
The sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, who attended the same prep school, St. Mark’s in Southborough, Mass., as Iowa senior forward Melsahn Basabe, is shooting 44 percent from 3-point distance. He shot the same percentage from 3 as a freshman, helping the Wolverines reach the national title game.
“He had a very good dribble-drive game last year,” Beilein said. “We just happened to have Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke. It’s hard to get three guys to the foul line like that.”
Hardaway and Burke left early for the NBA. And center Mitch McGary is out after back surgery. Stauskas has emerged as the Wolverines’ go-to guy.
“It’s a tremendous challenge for anyone that plays them,” McCaffery said. “He has been impressive because, let’s face it, last year it was Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke’s team. Stauskas is that guy who said, ‘Look, I watched those guys lead. I watched them make plays at crunch time. I can do that.’
“I don’t see him strictly as a shooter this year. He’s athletic, he’s got a great handle, he can go on the dribble, he moves without the ball and he’s a gamer.”
Stauskas had a huge step-back 3-pointer that clinched the victory against Wisconsin, his 40th make in 91 attempts this season. That’s the challenge for a Hawkeye defense that ranks 13th nationally in 3-point defense at 28.2 percent.
“If you don’t find him in transition it’s almost automatic,” McCaffery said. “But if you run at him he can put it on the deck. He made a play at Wisconsin where he drove it and kicked it. It was a really good play. You think he’s definitely going to shoot. The next thing you know he’s got an assist. And that’s the way the great ones play.”
Iowa’s most lopsided loss of the 2012-13 season came against Michigan in Crisler Arena, 95-67. The Hawkeyes led for the first 15 minutes, with one 8-second exception. The Wolverines scored 78 points and shot 66 percent from the field over the last 27 minutes.
“I don’t think anything like that is going to happen to us this year, because of the stability we have, and the confidence we have in ourselves,” Iowa forward Aaron White said. “We’re a team that can sustain runs and make runs back at teams.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball