Iowa Hawkeyes: Sons of Hawkeye Legends Help Bring Excitement Back to Court
Fran McCaffery appears to have done his homework before taking over as head coach at Iowa.
In doing his homework, McCaffery looks to have developed a plan that includes reconnecting with the roots of Iowa's cherished basketball history.
During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the University of Iowa men's basketball program was fairly successful.
Under head coach Lute Olson, the Hawkeyes won a Big Ten regular season championship and made their last trip to the Final Four to date. Under head coach Dr. Tom Davis, Iowa managed regular trips to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Since then, Iowa has only one Big Ten tournament championship to go along with a handful of NCAA tournament bids and a record-setting number of loses last season. The lack of excitement and progress left many fans feeling rather lethargic.
To combat the apathy, McCaffery will tab into Iowa's past. He added two former Hawkeyes, Kirk Speraw and Ryan Bowen, to his staff to help coach a team full of Hawkeye offspring.
One of those offspring is guard Matt Gatens, the backbone of Iowa's returning players. Gatens is the son of former Hawkeye Mike Gatens, who played in 62 games at Iowa during the 1970s.
Matt won't be the only son of a former Hawkeye on the court for Iowa next fall. He'll be joined by incoming freshman guard Roy Marble Jr., the son of Iowa legend Roy Marble.
Marble Sr. was a McDonald's All-American and the runner-up for Michigan's 1984 Mr. Basketball. While playing at Iowa, he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year and went on to become the school's all-time leader in points, games played, games started, and steals.
Marble Jr. seems to have inherited his dad's basketball gene. He’s averaging roughly 26 points and eight rebounds a game at Southfield-Lathrup High School in Michigan.
Marble Jr. looks to start his own legacy at Iowa, it's the memories of his father that have fans full of anticipation to watch him start his career. He will be starting his career along side Darius Stokes , the son of another former Hawkeye legend.
Stokes, a 6-foot-7 senior from Linn-Mar High School in Marion, IA, has accepted an invitation from McCaffery to join the team as a walk-on.
Darius is the son of Greg Stokes, a center for Iowa from 1981-85 who ranks third on Iowa’s career scoring list.
The younger Stokes only averaged about six points and three rebounds a game last year, but the potential is there for him to transform into greatness with the help of former NBA all-star Ryan Bowen and assistant coach Sherman Dillard guiding him.
Gatens has already surpassed his father's legacy. Stokes and Marble have their work cut out for them if they hope to do the same.
Even if Stokes and Marble don't match their fathers' careers at Iowa, just having them on board helps bring some excitement back to the program, one of the key ingredients missing under former head coach Todd Lickliter .
"The people of Iowa, the university community, and, most importantly, his student-athletes, are buying into Fran's approach to Hawkeye basketball," Athletic Director Gary Barta told the Des Moines Register .
Barta has a point. The Hawkeye community is indeed buying into McCaffery's plan.
And they're already seeing a return on their investment.
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