Player of the Week
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Marble, another of the Big Ten’s players who possesses NBA-level basketball genes, was an offensive force in two games this past week. The 6-foot-6 junior is the son of Roy Marble, Iowa’s all-time leading scorer who was a Hawkeye from 1986-89 and was drafted in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Roy Devyn Marble has almost the same frame as his father, and has shown the same sort of offensive firepower at times during his two seasons-plus in Iowa City.
He went off for 30 points Saturday in a 80-73 win against Northern Iowa, then put up 27 in just 22 minutes Wednesday against hapless South Carolina State. By the time he left that game, he had outscored the Bulldogs 27-22, including 21-20 in the first half. He drained 6-of-8 3-pointers and didn’t have a turnover. Against Northern Iowa, he hit 4-of-9 from long range and got to the basket frequently, displayed by his 14-of-19 free-throw numbers.
Marble has shown the ability to put up big numbers before – the 30 points was one shy of his career high set in last season’s finale – an NIT loss at Oregon. He’s a streaky shooter, but often won’t force the issue if he’s not hitting early on. That leads to games like he had previously to his two-game torrent, when he scored just six points against Iowa State. That was the only time he’s scored in single digits this season. In his first nine games, he hit a total of 10 3-pointers (10-of-30). In the last two, he made 10-of-17. Is this an aberration? The Big Ten looms, but Marble now has earned the role of Iowa’s go-to guy for a bucket on the perimeter or on a quick drive to the hoop. His 16.1 points per game ranked fourth in the Big Ten through Friday.
For his offensive ability, he’s not a great defender and that’s still a work in progress for the entire Hawkeyes team. But we could be talking about Marble’s NBA draft status this time next season if he’s able to do some damage against the Big Ten starting Dec. 31 against Indiana.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
The senior bounced back from a rough five-game stretch by posting 25 points in an 81-66 win against West Virginia and 17 in a 93-54 dismantling of Eastern Michigan. He shot a combined 12-of-25 in those games – a little better than the 20-for-60 he’s shot in the five games before that. He also had a season-high seven assists in the EMU game.
D.J. Newbill, Penn State
Newbill has been tasked with keeping the Nittany Lions afloat in the absence of star guard Tim Frazier, and he’s been doing his best. In addition to his 20.5 scoring average the past two games, the Southern Miss transfer has posted five assists in each of the last five games and at least five rebounds in eight straight games. He buried 15-of-28 shots in the last two games, both wins for Penn State -- 78-70 against Army and 80-76 in overtime against Delaware State.
Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern
The sophomore has had to pick up a lot of the scoring slack since team leader Drew Crawford decided to have surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder and miss the rest of the season. He’s doing a solid job so far, averaging 17.3 points per game over the past three games, hitting 14-of-25 (.560) from the field, including 8-of-16 from long range. He’s also averaging 3.3 assists during that span. Despite his shooting proficiency (his 21-of-42 mark ranks third among players who have shot at least 40) he has turned the ball over a lot in recent games. But he still ranks eighth in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), fifth in minutes played (34.1) and seventh in assists (4.1).
Keith Appling, Michigan State
I’ll preface this by saying Appling scored 25 points against Division II Tuskegee last Saturday on 9-of-11 shooting. OK, moving on to Division I opponents – Appling has scored well below his season average in three of the last four, and hasn’t hit double-digits. He continues to good job distributing, and the Spartans have won five straight, so all’s well. But his six turnovers against Bowling Green on Tuesday were a season high, and he’s just 7-of-22 from the field and 0-for-8 from the arc in those three games.
LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Ross has made a combined 5-of-15 from the field in the last two games for 11 points after averaging 17 in the previous three. The sophomore had just three Tuesday against Winthrop in only 16 minutes, and had six turnovers Saturday against UNC-Asheville in a span of 13 minutes between the first and second halves. He also picked up three fouls in less than 2 minutes of the second half. Ross needs to be more consistent on both ends of the floor to keep getting the nod from coach Thad Motta.
Top five fast-break teams
They’ve got the wing athletes to do it – specifically Victor Oladipo – and a big man who can run the floor with the best of them, which the Hoosiers showed in their rout of North Carolina earlier this season. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten and rank 65th in country with 71.6 possessions per game, and their 1.24 points per possession are second nationally. The also are second in the Big Ten and 46th in the country in steals at 9.0 per game. Indiana forces 16.2 turnovers per game to lead the conference whil also collecting 29.4 defensive rebounds per game – eighth in the nation. All of this allows the Hoosiers to push the ball in the style coach Tom Crean brings to Bloomington.
Brandon Paul leads the charge for the Illini, who rank second in the Big Ten at 68.4 possessions per game and 22nd in the nation by averaging 1.12 points per possession. Coach John Groce stressed that he would take advantage of the team’s athleticism when he took over in earlier this year, and it’s paid off. The Illini force 15.3 turnovers per game – third in the Big Ten, and collect 7.8 steals per game while forcing 15.3 turnovers. A lot of times Illinois will settle for 3-pointers on the break, and knock them down with no defender nearby.
Trey Burke is a master at getting up and down the floor on nearly every missed shot, turnover, or steal. It’s helped the Wolverines rank third in the nation by scoring 1.23 points per possession. They rely more on defensive rebounding to start breaks this season than in past years, and they do a good job on the defensive glass – 26.8 rebound per game, which ranks 48th in the country.
Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins start a lot of these breaks simply by altering shots in the lane or by intercepting passes. Then it’s up to Andre Hollins to start the break. The Gophers lead the Big Ten in steals and are eighth nationally at 9.9 per and 17 th nationally by scoring 1.13 points per possession.
Aaron Craft’s hustle plays spark the Buckeyes’ break, and then Deshaun Thomas usually takes it from there. The Buckeyes ranks fifth at 1.18 points per possession and are third in the Big Ten with a 78.6 points per game average. Their 7.6 steals per game, led by Shannon Scott’s 2.5 average, ranks 132 nd nationally. They’re forcing 15.0 turnovers per game, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten.
-- Big Ten teams were 107-27 (.780) through Friday, with Michigan (12-0) and Illinois (12-0) the lone remaining unbeatens.
-- Four teams were ranked in the top 10 of the AP top 25 – No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Ohio State and No. 10 Illinois. Minnesota sits at No. 13 and Michigan State at 20.
-- Trey Burke ranks ninth in the country in assists per game at 7.1.