March 20, 2013
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A year ago, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team was happy to be playing in the National Invitational Tournament. This year, the Hawkeyes are in it to win it.
“We already won one game in the first round, so that’s not the goal anymore,” said junior Roy Devyn Marble. “The goal is to win it. Last year we were happy to be in there, we wanted to go as far as possible. Now we feel like we can win it. As long as we prepare and stay focused and do the little things, we’ll be OK.”
The Hawkeyes open the 2013 NIT tonight, hosting sixth-seeded Indiana State on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will begin at 6:03 p.m. (CT).
The Sycamores finished 18-14 overall and were 9-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference. They are led by junior Jake Odum, a first team all-MVC selection. He averages 13.8 points and 4.6 assists, while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from 3-point range.
“We already won one game in the first round, so that’s not the goal anymore. The goal is to win it. Last year we were happy to be in there, we wanted to go as far as possible. Now we feel like we can win it. As long as we prepare and stay focused and do the little things, we’ll be OK.”
Junior Roy Devyn Marble
“He is a phenomenal player,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “He affects the game in so many different ways. He has a unique game and does things I haven’t seen before. He always is aware where his teammates are, and he’s always loading them up.”
Odum ranks in the top 10 in the Missouri Valley in scoring, assists, and steals and ranks 20th in the nation in free throw attempts. He is the sixth player in ISU history to earn first team all-MVC honors.
“He really looks to get all of those guys shots, and they knock them down for him,” said Marble. “At the same time, he is a really good scorer too. It’s going to be a challenge for whoever is guarding him to keep him in front and stay in tune because you never know what he is going to do. I don’t think half the time he knows until the last second from watching him (on film).”
Last season, Iowa opened NIT play with an 84-75 victory over Dayton in first round action before being bounced from the tournament by Oregon, 108-97, in Eugene, Ore.
This season, Marble says the NIT field has a different feel to it with the likes of Kentucky, Baylor, and Tennessee among the 32 teams competing.
“The field is packed, so it almost has an NCAA tournament type feel to it with the caliber of teams,” said Marble. “It should be fun, it’s important to go as far as possible.”
Senior Eric May doesn’t believe the Hawkeyes will have a letdown after missing out on an NCAA tournament bid.
“It’s the postseason,” said May. “There are a lot of teams that want to be playing now that aren’t. We’re excited and ready to go. We have a home court game, so to get a chance to play in front of the home crowd again is exciting.”
After drawing 13,190 fans during last season’s NIT game, Iowa has sold more than 15,000 tickets for tonight’s game, a feat that has the players excited.
“Being able to play in front of a large group of people that supports you is always fun,” said Marble. “You feel like you’re playing for them, and it helps you during the games.”
May says the fans will be a factor, the but the Hawkeyes will need to step up their games if they’re to achieve their goals.
“We’re going to have to raise the bar from last year and go further,” said May. “It’s time to make some noise in the NIT.”
Fans can purchase their tickets can do so online at hawkeyesports.com. Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn and Dan Dakich calling the action.