Yesterday afternoon’s opening matchup at the North Liberty Community Center was supposed to feature current Hawkeye star Devyn Marble taking on future Hawkeye star Peter Jok in the first round of the Prime Time League playoffs. Unfortunately, Jok sat out due to a sprained hand and Iowa Western’s Josiah Coleman stole the show in his first summer league game of the season.
“I felt good to be out there,” Coleman said. “It was good to find my rhythm. I came out with a high defensive intensity and let it contribute to my offense.”
The Iowa Western shooting guard recently finished his first season in Council Bluffs, Iowa, averaging 8.2 points while shooting 48% from the field. Before joining the Reivers, Coleman played at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and helped lead his team to the state title game in 2012. Sitting out the first four weeks didn’t seem to bother him in yesterday’s game as contributed 27 points in a 90-85 winning effort.
“He was big,” Marble chuckled. “I asked him when we were together, ‘Where have you been all season?’”
He was nursing a sprained ankle during the Prime Time League regular season, but Coleman wasted no time in establishing himself as a legitimate perimeter threat in his return to action. He was the only player producing consistent offense for Coach Kevin Sanders’ squad since Marble and Josh Oglesby struggled to find their rhythm for most of the afternoon. Coleman outscored the collective efforts of Marble and Oglesby 11-9 during the first half of play and he was just getting started.
Coleman added 16 points to his scoring output in the second half, including a momentum changing three with less than three minutes left in regulation to put his team ahead 82-79. Although his biggest play of the game came with 10:24 left in the second half when Marble found him on the fast break and Coleman elevated over Adam Woodbury to throw down an electric dunk. Coleman jogged back down the court staring Woodbury down with the eye of the tiger, but later admitted that the dunk startled.
“Actually, it surprised me,” Coleman said. “That was the first time I dunked since my ankle injury. (Devyn) threw me the ball and I just let god bless me to the rim.”
The Reivers guard carried the scoring load until Marble found his groove in the closing moments of the second half. Iowa’s star guard finished the game with 26 points; including 9 of his teams last 12.
“I told some of the guys to just give him the ball and let him take over,” Sanders said. “One thing I know about Devyn is that he’s going to step up towards the end.”
Marble’s step-back jumper with less than a minute left clinched the victory, putting his team up by a count of 88-83. Coleman’s emergence along with the presence of Marble and Oglesby creates a loaded perimeter attack for Sanders’ squad as the playoffs continue later in the week.
“It (Coleman’s emergence) is a huge relief, but this is the playoffs and any given day any player can go hot or cold,” Sanders said. “But I’m really optimistic about our chances.”