The Daily Iowan

A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

If Iowa wants to make a run in the postseason, it needs a healthy Luka Garza.

Iowa%27s+Luka+Garza+%2855%29+and+Wisconsin%27s+Alex+Illikainen+%2825%29+jump+for+the+rebound+during+the+NCAA+men%27s+basketball+game+between+Iowa+and+Wisconsin+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Tuesday%2C+Jan.+23%2C+2018.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) and Wisconsin's Alex Illikainen (25) jump for the rebound during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) and Wisconsin's Alex Illikainen (25) jump for the rebound during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) and Wisconsin's Alex Illikainen (25) jump for the rebound during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

Ben Allan Smith

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) and Wisconsin's Alex Illikainen (25) jump for the rebound during the NCAA men's basketball game between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






If Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes step on the hardwood in about two months without a 6-11 sophomore in a No. 55 jersey, they are in trouble.

Luka Garza recently underwent surgery to remove a benign cyst from his abdomen, and he is out indefinitely, but Iowa needs Garza. It simply cannot go through a season without him.

Garza was exactly the player the Hawkeyes needed him to be last season, stepping up to average 12.1 points a game (third on the team), 6.4 rebounds (second), and 1 block (first).

With Garza’s production out of the lineup, Iowa’s chance at landing a spot in the Big Dance is slim, and the NIT wouldn’t be a guarantee, either — especially if the Hawkeyes revert to their ways of 2017-18.

Sure, Iowa would still have Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook, and they can do a ton of damage when they’re on the court. But neither one has played in an NCAA Tournament game.

To get to that level, Bohannon and Cook need a third option, and that is where Garza fits the plan perfectly.

The Hawkeyes play their best when Garza performs well. Last year, Garza scored under 10 points 13 times, and Iowa lost 12 of those games.

A number of variables could affect those games, though, so here’s another stat: Garza scored 10 or more points in 20 games, and the Hawkeyes won 13 of them. That’s especially impressive considering Iowa only had a 14-win season.

Garza also showed the ability to put up big numbers, so when Bohannon and Cook are struggling, someone else can carry the load. Isaiah Moss has shown he has potential to do the same, but Garza was much more consistent in 2017-18.

Against Northern Illinois on Dec. 29, 2017, the Washington native posted 25 points on 8-of-8 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.

He also nearly had a 20-point game when No. 3 Purdue came to Carver-Hawkeye on Jan. 20, scoring 19 points, grabbing 3 boards, dishing out 2 assists, and gathering a steal and block on the defensive end, showing he can step it up against top competition.

Garza finished the 2017-18 season with a team-high player efficiency rating of 26.6. Iowa’s next best was Cook at 21.9.

Garza also had an offensive rebound percentage of 12.8 — the best on the team — which allows him to gain extra possessions and get the balls in the hands of Iowa’s best playmakers.

A mismatch for opposing defenses, Garza possesses the strength and size to battle inside with some of the conference’s best and also has the ability to knock down shots from deep, shooting at a 34.8 percent clip from behind the arc.

The Hawkeyes can’t afford to lose someone with the sheer size and skills of Garza. Iowa hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2016, and if it wants to go dancing for the first time in three years or make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, it needs a healthy Garza.

Comments

comments

About the Writer
Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Pete Ruden is the Sports Editor at the DI, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI,...

Navigate Left
  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Featured

    Hawkeyes display defensive dominance in win over Panthers

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Featured

    Photos: Iowa men’s basketball vs. UNI in the Hyvee Classic

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Latest News

    Tyler Cook and Company coast in Des Moines

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Men's Basketball

    Hawkeye men’s hoops readies for final Hy-Vee Classic battle against Panthers

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Men's Basketball

    Numbers say Connor McCaffery is Iowa’s best facilitator

  • DITV

    DITV Sports: Riley Till

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Beyond the Buzzer

    Beyond the Buzzer Podcast: Episode 2

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Featured

    Iowa shows fight in feisty win over Iowa State

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Featured

    Nothing but net for Isaiah Moss in Cy-Hawk victory

  • A healthy Luka Garza is key for Iowa basketball

    Men's Basketball

    Joe Wieskamp’s status unclear as Cy-Hawk men’s basketball game approaches

Navigate Right