Roy Devyn Marble and the Hawkeyes have NCAA Tournament dreams in 2013-14.
Ninety-three percent. That number alone means nothing, but for Fran McCaffery's Iowa Hawkeyes, it spells success for the 2013-14 season, with 93 percent of the scoring returning from last season's NIT runner-up squad.
Led by senior point guard Roy Devyn Marble and junior forward Aaron White, Iowa could be primed for a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
Years of dwindling attendance and minimal talent have finally given way to an up-tempo style and a roster loaded with depth.
The Hawkeyes fell just short of an NCAA Tournament appearance last season, thanks to a loaded Big Ten, a late-season loss to Nebraska and, most importantly, a paltry preseason schedule.
Iowa's first five games set up to be a walk in the park against bottom feeders, but a spot in Battle 4 Atlantis should boost the Hawkeyes' Ratings Percentage Index.
The field includes Kansas, Villanova, Tennessee and a USC team now coached by Andy Enfield of "Dunk City" fame.
A difficult conference schedule makes a strong preseason showing a must for McCaffery's team.
Here's a closer look at the key players, subplots and predictions for the Hawkeyes.
Big things are expected from Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff.
Jarrod Uthoff's road to Iowa was anything but simple.
A native of nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was courted by the Hawkeyes during his prep days but chose to sign with Wisconsin. He redshirted during the 2011-12 season, on what was a Badger team loaded with frontcourt depth. He opted to transfer from Wisconsin after just one season, but Bo Ryan didn't let him go easily.
Uthoff has bulked up and figures to compete for heavy minutes in his return to the court. Listed at 6'9" and 208 pounds, he is a rangy athlete with a good touch around the basket and the ability to stretch the floor.
Expect him to play at both forward spots this season.
Sudan native Peter Jok is the other newcomer who should enter Fran McCaffery's rotation.
Jok, a lanky 6'6" shooting guard, suffered a knee injury as a Nike camp sophomore. Once considered a top 10 prospect along with the likes of Jabari Parker and Andrew Harrison, his stock fell considerably following the injury.
He was rated as a 3-star recruit by ESPN.
Jok's role with the Hawkeyes, for now at least, will be strictly as a designated shooter off the bench. He will compete for minutes with junior guard Josh Oglesby, who shot just .308 percent from long range last season.
Few players run the floor better than Aaron White.
Roy Devyn Marble's bizarre slump during the heart of Big Ten play last season is all but a distant memory.
Over the final 15 games last season, the 6'6" senior averaged 15 points and engineered a strong finish for the Hawkeyes. Now, analysts like former Ohio State star Jimmy Jackson expect big things from Marble.
Jackson broke down Marble's game for Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
He’s probably their best creator. I think he’s real effective when he’s on the wing doing the same thing because even though he can do both things, he has the mentality of, ‘I’m going to get in there and he knows when to pass and when to shoot.’ So now you’ve got to complement that with a point guard that make it easier on Devyn to be more efficient because that’s the key. The skill set is there. The mentality. He’s made some really big shots. He’s not afraid to take a big shot.
Marble and his father, Roy, who starred for the Hawkeyes talented squads in the late 1980s, are the only father-son combination to score more than 1,000 points during their Big Ten careers.
Although he lacks the explosiveness his dad displayed, Marble is a smooth scorer with a great mid-range game. His 3-point shooting has been inconsistent throughout his career and dipped below 30 percent for much of last season before he finished at just less than 33 percent.
Marble competed for a roster spot with Team USA at the World University Games this summer. His quest fell short, but teammate Aaron White made the final roster.
White came to Iowa as a super skinny athlete with little strength or stamina. His quirky game, length and athletic ability helped him show flashes of brilliance, and his stint with Team USA helped him improve his shot and become more fluid.
White averaged 6.1 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game and said his experience helped him become a more confident player.
Sophomore 7-Footer Adam Woodbury anchors a big Hawkeye lineup.
Iowa's up-tempo style and versatility means Fran McCaffery will once again have a deep rotation in 2013-14. Last season, 10 players averaged at least 10 minutes per game. Of that group, only swingman Eric May isn't returning.
Jared Utoff figures to play heavy minutes this year, and Peter Jok is also in the mix on what appears to be a very deep roster.
Roy Devyn Marble, PG, Senior
Mike Gesell, SG, Sophomore
Aaron White, SF, Junior
Melsahn Basabe, PF, Senior
Adam Woodbury, C, Sophomore
Other Rotation Bench Players
Jarrod Uthoff, F, Sophomore
Anthony Clemmons, G, Sophomore
Gabe Olaseni, C, Junior
Zach McCabe, F, Senior
Josh Oglesby, G, Junior
Peter Jok, G, Freshman
Big Lineup or Small Lineup?
With depth comes flexibility. Early last season, McCaffery inserted Clemmons into the startling lineup, sliding Marble to small forward. A lineup with three ball-handlers took pressure off Gesell, who began last season as Iowa's primary floor general.
The small-ball strategy paid off in wins against rivals Iowa State and Northern Iowa, but inconsistent play from Clemmons and Gesell, along with Marble's mid-season malaise, forced McCaffery to rethink his starting lineup.
Marble gradually assumed more ball-handling duties, and his all-around brilliance alongside a big lineup in the NIT Tournament (averaging 20.6 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game, 2.4 steals per game) during a five-game span means he'll be back at the point again this season.
With the 6'6" Marble, the 6'7" Basabe, 6'9" White and 7-footer Woodbury, the Hawkeyes have an athletic starting five.
Given the questions surrounding Iowa's 3-point shooting, which ranked 308th in the country last season, McCaffery figures to think big all season long.
Gabe Olaseni is far from a household name and isn't on any draft boards yet, but that could change with a strong junior season.
The 6'10" London, England, native has long arms, good strength and dynamic athletic ability. He displayed his hops during the Black & Gold Blowout two weeks ago.
His ability offers a nice contrast to Woodbury, who is a physical player with more post moves around the basket.
Olaseni gives the Hawkeyes a great shot blocking and rebounding presence inside.
On the outside, it's all about finding someone—anyone—who can make a three-point shot.
Oglesby endured a season-long slump last season, finishing with a brutal .308 percentage from downtown.
And it wasn't like he didn't attempt many three-point shots. The 6'5" guard launched 156 shots from long range in 2012-13.
McCaffery has exhausted all superlatives when talking about Oglesby as a pure shooter. If he ever lives up to that hype, Iowa will have an added dimension with which opponents can contend.
Fran McCaffery has Hawkeye fans ready to dance after a long drought.
If anyone can make 3-point shots, Iowa has enough overall talent to easily make the NCAA Tournament and also make a deep run.
Marble's NIT play showed he can be an All-American type player. White should be vastly improved, and sophomores Woodbury, Gesell and Clemmons gained valuable experience as freshmen.
The Hawkeyes up-tempo style and athleticism will be helped by the NCAA initiative to clean up physical play.
No matter how bad it gets, it won't be Todd Lickliter bad, and we won't see John Lickliter guarding Evan Turner.
With they hype machine in full force and last season's narrow loss, missing the NCAA Tournament is the worst worst-case scenario.
Given this year's talented and deep Big Ten, it could happen.
Iowa's preseason is vastly improved on paper, but ultimately it could once again be an area of concern when it comes to overall ratings percentage index.
Unless Iowa's Atlantis experience leads to a matchup with Kansas, the preseason resume figures to be better than last year but just barely.
Once again, a premium would be placed on Big Ten play, having a winning conference record or a signature-type win against Michigan State or Indiana on the road.
Without consistent 3-point shooting, nothing will come easy for the Hawkeyes.
Zach McCabe will finally get to the Big Dance in his senior season.
McCaffery's rebuilding project is almost complete.
After years of futility, his hustle on the recruiting trail has finally infused talent and excitement into the Iowa program.
Led by Marble and White, Iowa will once again reach the 20-win mark. Only this season, the Hawkeyes will be in the conversation for a Big Ten title.
Michigan State is loaded with experience and talent. Michigan replaced Trey Burke with highly touted point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and brings back the talented trio of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.
Outside of the state of Michigan, Iowa has arguably the most ready-to-shine roster in the Big Ten.
Look for the Hawkeyes to win 24 games, put White on the Big Ten first team and advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Carver-Hawkeye area is alive and well again.