The Iowa Hawkeyes finally got their first true signature win of the season last Friday against the Michigan Wolverines. It was truly a showcase of how much Iowa has improved on the defensive side of the ball, and also an example of how good this offense can run when shots are falling.
So how will they follow up that win tomorrow on the road against the Indiana Hoosiers? Will the road woes continue, or will the shot continue to fall? Head coach Fran McCaffery met with the media yesterday to talk about that and more. Let’s get into it, shall we? Full transcript here.
Q. I know it’s not easy, but Luka is making 20 points look easy. What’s gone on the last seven games? He’s got at least 60 points.
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, he’s healthy. That’s pretty much all it is. He was playing great before he got hurt and then when he was hurt and he wasn’t playing, and then he was only playing a little bit. Now that he’s healthy, he’s doing what he’s capable of doing. He’s really worked hard to get to this point. He really put the time in this summer. I’m really proud of him.
What we’ve seen from Luka Garza this year is simply incredible. It’s more than just him being healthy. He’s hitting shots, and he’s aggressive in attacking the basket. What’s different this year is that Garza’s teammates are realizing that the offense runs better with Luka underneath the basket.
Q. I’ve heard him say on a few occasions that he has studied game tapes of NBA players from the ‘70s and ‘80s. You know any college players who do that?
FRAN McCAFFERY: No. He may be the only one. But if you know his father you can understand why he’s like that. They have a great relationship. Frank’s a basketball historian. He’s a bright guy. He’s a thinker. He played himself, so he understands footwork. We talk about Jack Sikma and people like that that nobody talks about anymore unless they talk about the Sikma move.
I think it’s valuable information that he’s gotten from his dad and from the tapes that he’s watched. He’s not making it up.
Whatever he’s watching, it’s paying off. Keep it up, Papa Garza!
Q. What are you seeing from Indiana? They were going through a rough patch and all of a sudden they turn around and get a win in Michigan State.
FRAN McCAFFERY: You have to look at the situation. It’s kind of like why is Luka scoring 20 points a game? Well, he’s healthy. Why did Indiana beat Michigan State at Michigan State? Well, they’re healthy.
They weren’t healthy. They were losing seven in a row and weren’t getting drilled so they were playing as well as they were capable. They were 12-2 when they were healthy, beat Louisville, and then Green is out, Phinisee is out, Davis is out. It’s going to be different.
Now they’re all back. Go on the road and beat Michigan State. That’s who we’re playing.
This matchup is certainly interesting. For one, Iowa always seems to struggle in Assembly Hall, and both teams are coming off their biggest wins of the season. It’s tough to say whether the last games were really turning points for either team, or if it was just a hot shooting night. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!
Speaking of road woes...
Q. Joe has put up really good numbers in home games; his numbers in road games aren’t nearly as good. Is that something you come to expect from a freshman? Is it just a matter of being more comfortable at home?
FRAN McCAFFERY: You know, I think everybody is going to be more comfortable at home. He’s a guy that teams are going to mark. We don’t have a huge sample of road games that he’s played in, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.
I think this is a fair question to ask, but I also think Fran is right here. It’s too soon to really question whether Wieskamp has an issue with road games, but it’s fair to wonder as the season goes. But it’s also important to remember that Wieskamp is a true freshman. I can’t believe how well — and how quickly — he’s transitioned to the college game. If he can’t quite get it done on the road yet, it’s understandable. If this is what Wieskamp is doing in year one, I’m very excited to see what’s to come in year two and beyond.
And finally, let’s talk Fran tying Lute Olson with the Michigan win:
Q. You tied Lute Olson in wins at Iowa after Friday’s win. What does that mean to you?FRAN McCAFFERY: ...Obviously he’s a Hall of Famer, but I think those of you who have gotten a chance to know him, even better person than he is coach. He’s been really good to me...
Still really engaged with the game, but I think set a great standard for how to be not only a great coach but a terrific person, somebody that I would emulate and take advice from.
So any time you’re mentioned with him, that’s a tremendous feeling.
It’s great that Fran has matched Lute’s win numbers. Next will he match his NCAA Tournament success? I certainly hope so!