Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

As expected, the return of Big Ten and National Player of the Year Luka Garza has helped Iowa garner a great deal of local and national media attention. However, the increased recognition hasn’t come without baggage. Expectations for Iowa basketball are higher than ever before.

In the latest Associated Press poll, Iowa is ranked third in the nation — trailing No. 2 Baylor and No. 1 Gonzaga.

Iowa has the depth and the talent needed to live up to such lofty expectations, and the team’s already proven that this early in the season.

Through two games, Garza is nearly averaging a triple double at 33.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Against Southern University, Garza scored 36 points in the first half and finished the game with 41 after head coach Fran McCaffery gave him some well-deserved rest in the second half of Iowa’s 103-76 blowout victory.

In addition to Garza’s stellar play, the Hawkeyes have received much-needed boosts from unexpected sources like forward Patrick McCaffery.

McCaffery redshirted last season to deal with “residual health issues” related to his 2014 battle with thyroid cancer. This year, McCaffery has averaged 11.5 points, three rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game off the bench.

Freshman forward Keegan Murray has made his presence felt this year too — registering 10.5 points and five rebounds a game in relief of Garza.

Aside from Murray and McCaffery, Iowa fans have yet to see the best of other players that could help provide the Hawkeyes with some depth like forwards Joe Wieskamp and Jack Nunge and guards Jordan Bohannon, Ahron Ulis, C.J. Fredrick, Connor McCaffery, and Joe Toussaint.

With a wealth of depth and weapons at their disposal, there is no telling what the Hawkeyes could achieve in 2020-21.

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