Jan. 30, 2009
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- Big Ten Tournament web page
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In a bizarre way, Roy Marble feels like he has traveled back in time to the fall of 1985 when he was a freshman at the University of Iowa. Then he was prepared for the eventual task at hand — but a bit apprehensive — entering the unknown of college and the rigors of Big Ten Conference basketball.
Such is the case today, as Marble embarks on a new chapter in his professional career. Marble, along with former rival Kendall Gill from the University of Illinois, will analyze the Iowa-Illinois men’s basketball game for the Big Ten Network on Sunday, Feb. 1, beginning at 1:05 p.m., from Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill.
“The Big Ten Network is testing me out and this is kind of an audition,” Marble said. “It’s going to be sink-or-swim. In a way, it’s no different than starting your college career as a freshman.”
“We have a stable of talented analysts and our main priority is that they know the Big Ten,” said Elizabeth Conlisk, vice president of communications for the Big Ten Network. “Certainly Roy falls into that category. We’re excited to have him.”
Marble is the only Hawkeye to score more than 2,000 points in a career. His four-year total of 2,116 is 337 more than Acie Earl, who is second on the all-time list with 1,779. Marble was a three-time team most valuable player and from 1985-89, Iowa compiled a record of 97-37, advancing to the NCAA Tournament four times. In 1986-87, the Hawkeyes went 30-5 and won three postseason games before falling to Nevada-Las Vegas, 84-81, in the Elite Eight.
“I benefitted from being a Hawkeye,” Marble said. “Having that Iowa degree gives you a special look and I’m proud of that.”
Marble, a native of Flint, Mich., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the UI and he used that to work in marketing for Miller Brewing Company, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson Brothers. He also opened two businesses in Cedar Rapids — Citystyle Clothing and Legends night club. Both, however, were casualties of the Flood of 2008.
A gem in George Raveling’s 1985 recruiting class that also included B.J. Armstrong, Les Jepsen, Ed Horton and Kevin Gamble, Marble was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1986. He played his final three seasons for Tom Davis. When Marble was looking for guidance on whether to accept the challenge with the Big Ten Network, he dialed Armstrong and Davis.
“I benefitted from being a Hawkeye. Having that Iowa degree gives you a special look and I’m proud of that.”
Former Hawkeye star
“I pretty-much went to my basketball-playing family,” Marble said. “When I felt I needed to talk to someone, I called Coach Davis. It was one of the most pleasant conversations, and he gave me full confidence that I could do this, so I’m definitely going after it. I also got back in touch with B.J. Our lives hadn’t crossed much lately.”
Marble was selected in the first round (23rd pick overall) of the 1989 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He also played briefly for the Denver Nuggets. Now Marble is ready to observe and dissect Big Ten games, rather than dominate them like he did in the late 1980s.
“I’m 42 years old and I don’t move as fast anymore,” Marble said. “I leave the dunking to my son (Roy Marble, Jr., a junior phenom at Southfield-Lathrup High School in Michigan). This will be a lot of fun and it will be my first time on center stage on television. I need to be a teacher and speak about the athletic-side of the game.”
It will seem like Reunion Week for Marble, who watched the Iowa-Michigan State game on Jan. 29 from a courtside seat behind the Hawkeye bench. It was his first time back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in more than three years.
“I will be getting my feet wet (with the Big Ten Network), but I feel at home with it because I’m a Hawkeye fan and we’re talking about the Black and Gold here,” Marble said. “I like to watch Iowa’s games whenever I can.”
“That’s an added plus that Roy’s from the University of Iowa,” Conlisk said. “We know the fans like that.”
Marble will be teamed on television with former nemesis Gill, who suited up for the Fighting Illini from 1986-90. The Hawkeyes won 4 of 6 of the classic Marble-Gill meetings, but the Illini won the finale, 118-94, on March 8, 1989, in Champaign — a game where Marble poured in a career-high 37 points.
“We cherished those battles,” Marble said. “We all understood that if there were no Illinois or Iowa’s at the time, it wouldn’t have been college basketball. That last game was a rah-rah type of game. I always liked that gym.”
Today Marble and Gill remain joined because of basketball. Together, they scored more than 3,500 collegiate points. Broadcasting that many games would be quite an undertaking.