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Iowa basketball’s stat-sheet hero: Luka Garza

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Iowa basketball’s stat-sheet hero: Luka Garza

Iowa forward Luka Garza controls the ball during a game against Indiana University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. The Hoosiers defeated the Hawkeyes 84 to 82. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa forward Luka Garza controls the ball during a game against Indiana University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. The Hoosiers defeated the Hawkeyes 84 to 82. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

Iowa forward Luka Garza controls the ball during a game against Indiana University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. The Hoosiers defeated the Hawkeyes 84 to 82. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

Iowa forward Luka Garza controls the ball during a game against Indiana University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. The Hoosiers defeated the Hawkeyes 84 to 82. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)


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As a freshman, Luka Garza proved that he’s an efficient threat offensively and defensively.

By Adam Hensley

[email protected]

Last season, Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook drummed up most of the noise for Hawkeye basketball. Bohannon was (and is still) Iowa’s sharp-shooting point guard, possessing the ability to knock down shots from all over the floor, while Cook proved that once again, he’s Iowa’s most athletic player, anchoring the defense and muscling opponents on offense.

When Hawkeye fans think of Iowa basketball, they think of those two players, but Luka Garza’s name should be in the mix as well.

Garza was Iowa’s best freshman last season. He played in all 33 games, started 26, and tallied 715 minutes — only Bohannon, Cook, and Isaiah Moss had more playing time last season — and he earned his time for a reason.

For starters, Garza is a mismatch for opposing teams. He’s a 7-footer who has the size and strength to go to work in the post, and he also proved to be a reliable threat from 3-point range, knocking down 34.8 percent of his triples. That’s a better 3-point shooting percentage than every other forward last season, including Jack Nunge and Nicholas Baer.

But he does his best work on the boards. Garza was the Hawkeyes’ top rebounder last season when looking at total rebound percentage (the percentage of available rebounds grabbed when on the floor). It’s a measure of rebounding efficiency, essentially.

Garza boasted a total rebound percentage  of 16.7 last season. That’s the fourth-best mark in the past 10 years from players with at least 14 starts. Only Cyrus Tate (18.0 in 2008-09), Melsahn Basabe (17.6 in 2013-14), and Adam Woodbury (17.5 in 2015-16) had higher single-season percentages.

But Garza didn’t produce all of his work on the defensive end; Garza was a force on the offensive glass last year. Commanding a 12.8 offensive rebound percentage, he led the team. Ahmad Wagner came in second at 10.7, but the next closest Hawkeye with comparable minutes was Cook, who finished with a 9.1 percentage.

Offensively, Garza was excellent at taking care of the ball and made the most of his time on the court by scoring and dishing to teammates. Per 40 minutes, Garza led the Hawkeyes in scoring at 22.4 points and 11.8 rebounds.

As far as turnovers go, Garza had only 35 turnovers (roughly 1.1 per game). His 9.7 turnover percentage was the best mark on the team; he was the only Hawkeye with a turnover percentage fewer than 10.

But what jumps off the stat sheet is his offensive rating, a measure of points scored and points produced. Per 100 possessions, Garza has an offensive rating of 126.6. Garza’s 31.5 points per 100 possessions was also a team-high mark, beating out Cook (30.9).

Take all this into consideration, then note that Garza had the second-highest use rate out of any starter last season. The Hawkeyes used Garza on roughly 24.4 percent of plays. That’s a higher rate than Moss (23.0) and Bohannon (19.9).

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