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Iowa Basketball in Europe: The Team Cruises and Luka Garza Bruises

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Iowa basketball European trip recap! Also, Luka Garza is a baller!

Screenshot via @IowaHoops

The Iowa Hawkeyes’ games concluded yesterday after their fourth win over another European All-Star team. What is there to learn from this series?

Iowa 99 - 65 German All-Stars

Box Score

In the only streamed contest of the trip, the first game was the tightest one, as the Hawkeyes had only a four point lead in halftime. It remained a relatively tight game until Nicholas Baer put his mark on the game towards the end of the third quarter.

All of these plays occurred within about 1:30 of game time and really highlight the developing skillset of Baer: aware offensively and defensively, unafraid of taking the open shot, and always hustling. I don’t think another player will matter to the Hawkeyes game-to-game as much as Baer with his constant energy and will to win. The rest of the game can be seen here and is a delight if you’re in the mood for some Hawkeyes action and surprisingly good commentating.

Starters:

Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, Ahmad Wagner, Dom Uhl, Luka Garza

Held Out:

Ryan Kriener (coach’s decision), Maishe Dailey (injury), Cordell Pemsl (injury)

One Star:

Isaiah Moss was flames from deep, going 5 for 6 and finished with 15 points.

Two Stars:

Luka Garza posted his first double double of the trip with 17 points and 10 boards.

Three Stars:

Nicholas Baer had 10 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, and 4 steals as he expanded the lead in the second half.

Iowa 125 - 56 Swiss All-Stars

Box Score

In Iowa’s second game, they didn’t dilly-dally like the first game and ran outpaced their opponent 42-14 in the second quarter. One might say the Hawks were facing a (blatantly steal joke from Jordan Hansen) Swiss cheese defense. Overall, Iowa took better care of the ball with 25 assists to 11 turnovers, while they forced 33, scoring 37 off of them. The 3-point shooting went down to 29% after a blistering 45%, but made up for it by sinking 24 of 31 free throws for 77%.

The highlights featured some nifty footwork from Ryan Kriener and a surprisingly easy dunk from walk-on Riley Till.

Starters:

Christian Williams, Brady Ellingson, Nicholas Baer, Tyler Cook, Jack Nunge

Held Out:

Jordan Bohannon (coach’s decision), Maishe Dailey (injury), Cordell Pemsl (injury)

One Star:

Connor McCaffery scored 13 points on 4-12 shooting (3-7 from deep) plus 5 assists.

Two Stars:

Ryan Kriener shot 6-12, finishing with 14 points and 6 boards.

Three Stars:

Luka Garza shot a blistering 8-12 - canning 1-2 threes and 7-7 free throws - to a total of 24 points in only 11 minutes of action.

Iowa 106 - 64 Milan All-Stars

Box Score

Iowa continued their tear as they hopped to a 13-point first quarter lead on 57% shooting. Their hot streak continued in the second quarter with 67% shooting but the defense couldn’t extend the lead past 16 points. They cruised in the second half, outscoring the Milanese 46-20.

Starters:

Connor McCaffery, Christian Williams, Dom Uhl, Tyler Cook, Ryan Kriener

Held Out:

Maishe Dailey (injury), Cordell Pemsl (injury)

One Star:

Christian Williams went 4-7 for 10 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Two Stars:

Isaiah Moss continued his hot shooting with another 4 threes on 5 attempts to 18 points in 17 minutes.

Three Stars:

Luka Garza, took home MVP honors with 8-11 shooting, 9-10 from the line for 25 points and 11 boards.

Iowa 88 - 49 Vicenza All-Stars

Box Score

Iowa concluded their European games with another dominating victory as the burst to a 51-21 halftime lead. Though they only scored 37 second-half points, it was another easy victory. It was Iowa’s worst shooting game from both three (19%) and the free throw line (48%) as they went 38% and 75%, respectively, throughout their other three games.

Starters:

Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, Ahmad Wagner, Tyler Cook, Luka Garza

Held Out:

Maishe Dailey (injury), Cordell Pemsl (injury)

One Star:

It’s hard to find one, as only two guys made more than three baskets, but for the sake of variety Jack Nunge’s 9 points, 5 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals is the best of the rest.

Two Stars:

Tyler Cook went 6-8 and finished with 16 points and 10 boards.

Three Stars:

Luka Garza once again dominated with 12-15 shooting for 24 points and 14 rebounds. Ho hum.

What did we learn?

  • The Luka Garza performance hints at a couple intertwined questions, namely rotation and how the freshmen will impact it. With his starting three games and exceptional performance in all, it’s easy to envision a scenario where he is the day one starting center. The more I think about it, the better it is. It allows Tyler Cook to play his natural collegiate position as a power forward while simplifying the defensive side of the floor.
    Fran McCaffery’s teams have functioned best with some version of a true center - both Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni qualify as such. In this very limited view of Garza, I think he can offer the best of both worlds. Offensively, he will be, at minimum, the garbage-man type Woody was with a softer feel around the rim while the rim running ability Olaseni does, though Gabe was a freak athlete. It’s tough to say defensively, because nearly all freshman centers will have warts on that side of the rim, but the lumps he’ll take throughout this year will only make Iowa better come tournament time (hopefully) and beyond (definitely).
    I also view the minutes Woodbury got as a freshman (~16/game) as a potential baseline for Garza. I would definitely be surprised if he approached 20 and would probably feel the same if he dipped under 10. After all, there’s a reason he was a top 100 recruit.
  • Cordell Pemsl and Maishe Dailey were injured all four games. Though the team was rightfully tight-lipped, it’s easy to speculate what it might mean if these injuries were to linger into the fall and further. First, it would organically tighten the rotation, which might be a good thing. Second, if they ended up redshirting next season, it would shift the scholarships from 6 juniors and 2 sophomores in 2018-19 to 4 juniors and 4 sophomores, barring transfers.

However, I don’t think it is Fran’s MO to hold guys out to get cute with scholarships and the like. He’ll give kids the opportunity to play if they want to play and the training staff gives them the go-ahead. Though practices will be super competitive, it’ll make it a nightmare when coming up with rotations and settling on a go-to lineup - something he really didn’t do last year.

  • With Garza currently slotted (in my mind) as the starting center, it leaves open only the small forward spot if Bohannon, Moss, and Cook carry over from last year. Ahmad Wagner started three games in that spot and, while Fran said he wasn’t going to settle in on a rotation during this time period, it seemed like he has with the Bohannon-Moss-Wagner-Cook-Garza group.
    There is certainly a lot of time between now and the first game of the season, but I’ll be surprised if this isn’t the lineup they roll out in game one. While the 3-point threats only appear to be Bohannon and Moss, there’s plenty of offense available with Cook and Garza’s skillsets. It won’t be the 2v5 offense I remember - rightfully or wrongfully - from 2015-16.

Odds and Ends

There were loads of human interest-type stories which came from the trip (which will conclude in a couple days as they putz around Italy), but here are some of my favorites. HawkeyeSports’ landing page has others.

  • Dom Uhl saw his mom!
  • In the land of Clooney, Jack Nunge was tricked(?) into jumping into the lake after Fran’s youngest son, Jack, fell into it.

Check out the rest at the @IowaHoops Twitter feed and the landing page linked above!