WEST LAFAYETTE IN - JANUARY 09: Roy Devyn Marble #4 of the Iowa Hawkeyes drives for a shot attempt against JaJuan Johnson #25 of the Purdue Boilermakers during the Big Ten Conference game at Mackey Arena on January 9 2011 in West Lafayette Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Good news, friends! We recently got some unpublished Fran McCaffery quotes from Friend of the Pants Eric Angevine, and as we get geared up for the basketball season, we'd like to share them with you.
Can you tell me a bit about some of the guys you've brought in this year?
The three freshmen we brought in are: Josh Oglesby, who is a very talented 6-6 shooting guard who can play the point. He's got range to 26 feet, which is going to really stretch the defense. He can make plays off the dribble for other people, that's what I love about him, he's not just a guy that you have to set up. He can set somebody else up and then he can go in there and rebound with his length. Aaron White is a 6-8, long, talented forward who can play, basically 3-4-5. Obviously on the thin side for the five, but he's skilled and smart and athletic. He can also stretch the floor and make a three. Gabe Olaseni, who's 6-10 and has a 7-foot-3 wingspan is a phenomenal athlete in terms of being able to run and block shots and dunk the ball. He's a little green offensively, but not so green that he won't be effective. I think he'll continue to get better, because he's only been playing for about four years.
We talked a little bit about the returning players. Who might we see have a breakout season?
Obviously we expect Matt Gatens, Bryce Cartwright and Melsahn Basabe to pick up where they left off, and have a better year. But the two guys, to answer your question, that I'm excited about are Roy Devyn Marble and Eric May. Ironically, they both play the same position. Eric can play 3-2, Marble can play 3-2-1. When you look at them physically - Eric's a junior now, and Devyn's a sophomore - Devyn's a really young sophomore. He's a sophomore, but he's still the youngest player on the team. That shows you how young he really is. They both had terrific summers in the weight room and playing pickup. They had great workouts in the fall. We have the summer league called the Prime Time League here in Iowa City and they both had great summers scoring and rebounding and really taking their games to another level, so I'm really excited about those guys.
Our thoughts after the break...
First of all, eeeeeeee. We're excited about Josh Oglesby, because if he's got consistency on his threes, that's the type of ability that can stretch the defense and open up the interior for guys like Basabe. What we're not really hearing from McCaffery, though, is the indication that these guys are ready for Big Ten competition right now. I mean, obviously they are to the extent that they are basketball players who earned scholarships at a Big Ten program. But usually, when there's some real physical maturation that most freshmen have to go through, so when a guy's really in game shape from the word "go" and can handle 20 minutes a game without getting muscled around by upperclassmen, his coach will be happy to mention it, and I don't get that sense here. Again: not all that unusual, and certainly nothing that makes me think these guys shouldn't have been recruited. But I think we should probably temper expectations for what these recruits mean for the upcoming season.
Now, by that same token, we're delighted to hear that both Eric May and Devyn Marble are making strides in the offseason, because those are both guys with big-time talent but who really seemed to come and go in terms of making an impact game-to-game. May is the type of talent where all you need him to do is get loose on a fast break, and he's going to make a grown man play -- and those are fun. Those are very, very fun. But despite his aggressive open court demeanor, he seemed much too happy to just chuck jumpers in the half-court set, even when defenders were overplaying him and daring him to pump fake and drive. Incidentally, I think he learned this from Matt Gatens, and I hate it when Gatens does it too.
As for Marble, his style of play always struck me as unorthodox, both in the high school clips and in his freshman year; he took odd angles with his drives, and while that often results in him getting a mid-range jumper (which he's pretty darn good at hitting, even without being squared up), it also seems like he's making the game harder on himself than it ought to be.
So Marble he's getting good reports from McCaffery out of the offseason, it would seem that he's at least getting his overall productivity up, and is probably also going to do a better job of filling out the stat sheets. That's good news! I would have also liked to hear good things about Zach McCabe and Andrew Brommer, considering how much both guys will be counted upon in bigger roles this season, but this was just two paragraphs of stuff, not an exhaustive compendium of quotes.
But really, the biggest advantage for Iowa this year is just the sheer level of productivity and experience it has coming back. Bryce Cartwright, Matt Gatens, Eric May, and Devyn Marble is a better returning core of talent than Iowa's had in about the last 5-6 years -- and that's pretty much by default, considering the amount of players that departed early from this program on an annual basis for so long. What's it going to be like with a point guard who spent all of last year running the point with this team? Who knows! No seriously, who knows, because it's been since Jeff Horner since we could last answer that question.
Anyway, we're excited. You excited?