Multi-faceted Iowa Ready for Competitive Conference Slate

Iowa Hawkeyes Garza BIG10

  • Iowa sports the epitome of balance on the perimeter and in the paint
  • Luka Garza early favorite for national player of the year
  • 3-point game is among nation’s best

Fashioning Balance

Big Ten teams, in general, have their share of one-and-done freshmen and sophomore players who will bounce to the NBA after this season, but in order to not only win, but to win in March, experience, and chemistry from a group of older players is the equalizer to talent.

Players need time to grow and learn physically and socially, and that is what we see right now from the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa has streaked to a 6-0 record in shooting 51 percent from the floor and averaging 100.5 points per game. Particularly impressive in the start is how the Hawkeyes bounced North Carolina and manhandled a good Iowa State team that is a middle of the road team in the tough Big 12.

Big man Luka Garza has been even more incredible than imagined as he currently averages 29.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. His touch around the rim is now supplemented by his 3-point prowess, where his has made 13-of-19 triples so far.

Senior point guard Jordan Bohannon is wise beyond his years as he has performed a a perfect setup man for Garza or for the Hawkeyes’ bevy of 3-point shooters. He fits into a perimeter that includes Joe Weiskamp and CJ Frederick in already posting double digits in triples.

This balance is why oddsmakers at MyBookie, have Iowa (+800) tied with Illinois (+800) as a solid favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. Both teams check in heavily favored Gonzaga (+400).

Luka, Luka, Luka

Garza has picked up this season where he left off in last year’s COVID-19 interrupted March. He has the best court sense of any big man in a long time in how meticulous he is in pinpointing where to set up and how to ask for the basketball.

Garza understands the angles in getting his shot on the boxes and also in making the catch in the lane and shooting his turn around jumper. That 3-point stat through six games is incredible and the diversity he has with his offensive game is what is going to make him even more money in the NBA.

He is one of only two players in Iowa history to have two 40-point games as he netted 44 at Michigan last season and posted 41 vs. Southern University on Nov. 27. The output vs. the Jaguars was the most in Carver-Hawkeyes Arena history for an Iowa player and fell four short of the record of 45 which is owned by Brian Quinnett of Washington State in a holiday classic in 1986.

Garza may be the most complete player we have seen in college basketball in many seasons. With his points and rebounds consistently off the charts, he also is shooting 69.3 percent which encompasses the 3-point marksmanship.

With where Garza is as of now, will he continue down this path against Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the night-in, night-out battles that this league has to offer?

Currently, Garza is the odds on favorite to win the Naismith National Player of the Year. The following are the Top 3 likely winners as of now:

  • Luka Garza, Iowa, (+275)
  • Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois, (+475)
  • Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State, (+550)

Droppin’ Dimes

Yes, Bohannon is a dimes dropper. Check out his start as he has 31 assists against only eight turnovers in these first six games.

Bohannon is savvy in that he is a redshirt-senior as he has been there, done that in knowing how to set up his teammates inside of the offense as well as finding his own shots.

He probes defenses from the point but also is very aware of scouting reports in finding his three.

He has a school-record of 297 three-point field goals and is 77 triples away from the Big Ten record which is very doable, but as he closes in on potentially breaking that record, Bohannon won’t push the envelope. He runs Coach Fran McCaffery’s system with precision and skill.

His experience speaks for itself as he is tied with Wisconsin’s D’Mitrik Trice for the most games played by an active D-1 player at 118. That experience spilled over to the injury list last season when he was shelved with a hip injury in December and had to have season-ending surgery.

3-Ballers

The Hawkeyes shoot a sizzling 39.8 percent from three on the season and they have so many weapons that the opposing defenses have to choose either to guard the triple or try to neutralize Garza in the paint.

They buried North Carolina with the 3-point game in their 93-80 win in making 17-of-40 triples as Joe Weiskamp, CJ Fredrick, and Jordan Bohannon became the first trio of Hawkeyes in history to bury at least five triples each in a single game.

The following are three sharp-shooters other than Bohannon or Garza that can stick it from long range while figuring prominently in contributing in other facets of the game:

  • Joe Weiskamp – The Hawkeyes’ second leading scorer at 15.2 points per night who has made 12-of-24 triples so far.
  • CJ Fredrick – Has nailed an incredible 11-of-20 triples with 17 assists against only three turnovers in 24.6 minutes per game.
  • Keegan Murray – A freshman who blends athleticism with his shooting ability as he has

Made 38.5 percent of his triples while figuring on the glass with 4.7 per game.

McCaffery Underrated

Coach Fran McCaffery is in his 11th season as the Hawkeyes head coach and has brought Iowa back to respectability as a Big Ten contender every season. Now the Hawkeyes are a proven threat to potentially win the first national title in school history.

To do that, they will return to the Final Four for the first time since legendary coach Lute Olson led them there in 1980. The program hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since Dr. Tom Davis led the Hawks there in 1999, which was his last season.

Please Note:
McCaffery has taken Iowa to four NCAA Tournaments in the last five seasons and they most assuredly would have gone in the COVID-19 interrupted 2020-21 season. The program had an 8-year hiatus when the Hawkeyes made their first trip under McCaffery in 2013-14.

Embracing the “get old and stay old” philosophy and then player development through McCaffery’s system, this group of basketball players have stayed the course and developed a winning chemistry that was seen throughout last season and subsequently, it has vaulted into the 2020-21 hoops campaign.

McCaffery developed a fast-paced, exciting system that his teams thrive in. The pieces fit the system perfectly as the chemistry on this team is that of champions. McCaffery is signed through 2024 and is poised to take the Hawkeyes to an elite level over the next three years.

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