In many ways it was a landmark season for the Iowa Hawkeye program. This team, led by Fran McCaffery returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight seasons. However, if you talk to close followers of this program, there was frustration over how the season ended after the Hawkeyes raced out to an 11-2 start heading into conference play. There is no questioning this team’s youth and there must be some leniency given to a program and coach who are new to the stage of potential Big Ten Title contenders. Nevertheless, Iowa fans had to watch their team try to navigate the gauntlet that is the Big Ten schedule with mixed results. With that, let’s look a little more in depth at the how the 2013-2014 campaign shook out for the Hawkeyes.
Biggest Win(s): Two games stood out for me as I went back and looked at Iowa’s season and the first came on a Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. Then #3 ranked Ohio State was set to square off with an Iowa team that had just suffered a heartbreaking defeat the week before in the Kohl Center up in Wisconsin. Despite 22 points from LaQuinton Ross, Iowa’s star Roy Devyn Marble led the way for the Hawkeyes with 22 points and 4 boards of his own. This game really was a team effort though as four other Hawkeye players scored in double figures as Iowa pulled away late to defeat Ohio State.
The other big win for Iowa last year came on February 8th when Michigan came to town for a Saturday afternoon showdown. Losers of 3 of their last 5 games entering this matchup, the Hawkeye’s desperately needed a win against then #10 Michigan to stop the free fall that they found themselves in amidst the middle of conference play. As was the theme much of the year when this team was rolling, Marble was at the center of their success. He scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half as Iowa took a 14-point lead into the half that they would never relinquish.
Worst Loss(es): It’s hard to pick just one because the end of the season ended so poorly for the Hawkeyes in the win-loss column. Iowa dropped 5 of their last 6 games to end the Big Ten regular season before turning in a major dud of a performance in their Big Ten Tournament first round matchup with Northwestern. Somehow after that the Hawkeyes still managed to sneak into the Big Dance as an 11 seed before being upended by a Tennessee Volunteer squad that wound up making it all the way to the Sweet 16. It’s easy to forget many of the early season triumphs because of how the season wrapped up but in terms of the future of this program, this past year was a huge step towards sustaining success
Team MVP: That being said, it’s hard to imagine where the Hawkeye’s season would have ended up if it weren’t for senior forward Roy Devyn Marble. His stats were admirable by themselves, 17 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, but this does little justice to his true impact beyond the statsheet. Marble was the heart and soul of this team in victory and defeat and it should not go unrecognized the impact his leadership and heart had on a young team and young program. This is the type of kid who epitomizes everything that is right in college basketball. Marble projects as a possible second round pick but his place in Iowa basketball royalty should be cemented forever.