EVER SINCE HE HAD TO STUFF HIS SIZE-15 feet into size-13 ballet
shoes as a member of a high school mime troupe, Matt Bullard has been
looking for a comfortable fit. Just two summers ago, after deciding
to transfer out of Colorado, the 6 ft. 10 in. Bullard was casting
about for a suitable new school. While riding a bus over the plains
along Interstate 80 from Omaha toward his hometown of Des Moines,
Bullard pondered his choices. The closer he got to his home state's
border, the more at home he felt. By the time he disembarked from the
bus, he had decided on his next and final collegiate stop: Iowa City.
Bullard will fit right in with a frontcourt rotation that includes
power player Ed Horton, transfer Michael Ingram from Missouri and 7
ft. 1 in. Les Jepsen, who dominated play in the Iowa City summer
league. Freshman Ray Thompson will provide the outside punch on the
front line, which will allow 6 % ft. 6 in. senior Roy Marble to swing
to shooting guard, a position coach Tom Davis feels he needs to
master for a shot at a professional career. ''There might be a 5 ft.
11 in. forward in the lineup, but Roy will be at guard,'' says Davis.
Marble enters the season with a chip on his shoulder. Bullard,
Horton and B.J. Armstrong, the Hawkeyes' splendid point guard, all
received invitations to the U.S. Olympic team trials. Marble, who
leads the nation in comparisons to Michael Jordan, did not. ''It was
a slap in the face,'' he says, ''like a parent trying to discipline a
child.'' It hurt, but it woke Marble up. He spent his summer in Iowa
City, taking 600 outside shots a day, honing his touch with his left
hand, losing 10 pounds and increasing his bench press from 180 to 250
pounds. ''Every time I go out on the floor now, I do something I
haven't done before,'' says Marble, marveling at himself.