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Overreaction Monday: All Aboard the Iowa Hoops Hype Train

Luka Garza is back, and this team is destined for greatness.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa
Heeeee’s Baaaaaaaackkkkkkk!
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Roughly four years ago on a Sunday night in August, the first Overreaction Monday was born. It was an illegitimate child of several ranting satirical pieces I’d seen over the years on Every Day Should Be Saturday and the regular Monday morning water cooler talk heard for as long as I could remember. It was supposed to be somewhere between venting as a fan and mocking the Monday morning quarterbacks who take it upon themselves to second-guess everything from play calls to QB reads and missed blocks.

Somewhere along the way, I got old. I had kids, bought a house, moved up the corporate ladder (Ok, more like got onto the first step of the kiddie stool) and slowly turned into my parents. As I aged and evolved, Monday mornings evolved with me. I’ve spent less time venting as a true fan, less time even trying to be satirical with the #taeks and spent more and more time on my high horse waxing (not so) poetic about the voice of reason our fanbase seems to need to step back from the ledge.

This Monday morning is different - it’s something of a throwback. Today, I can’t contain myself and I don’t think anyone else can either. So saddle up, partner, we’re going for a ride!

When Luka Garza committed to Iowa in the fall of 2016, we knew we were getting a pretty good player. Iowa doesn’t often get top-100 type talent in either of the revenue generating sports and Garza was that. He was a 4-star with a bunch of offers, including Louisville, and was clearly a national prospect.

It’s interesting to re-read the brief evaluations at the time with the benefit of hindsight. Like NBA scouts, there was the criticism of his raw athleticism, but also clear evidence he had a lot of offensive weaponry between his “old man” inside game and his ability to step outside.

He measures in at 6’11”, 230 lbs and has a bit of what I’d call an old man game. He doesn’t strike you as super athletic at first glance, but he is more than capable of getting up and down the court and playing above the rim from time to time.

He has a nice arsenal of post moves with pretty decent footwork around the hoop. He isn’t going to jump over anybody the way Tyler Cook might, but he is comfortable playing in traffic and through contact around the rim. What really makes Garza a nice prospect is his ability to step outside and knock down a jumper. Picture Adam Woodbury with the ability to stretch a defense by knocking down a few from beyond the arc.

Still not inaccurate, it all seems to vastly underrate what we now know Garza’s game to be.

He does have every “old man” move you’ve ever been schooled by at your local YMCA. He can step out and drill jumpers, even well beyond the arc. He does get up and down the court well - typically before everyone else.

But he also does jump over people and put Big Ten centers on posters. He not only stretches defenses but totally obliterates them. He can beat teams all by himself despite being double- and triple- teamed all game.

Garza has gone from a highly regarded recruit with question marks to the hands down best player in college basketball. He accomplished that last year, regardless of whatever the idiots over at the Naismith Award decided (they can go find the folks from the Groza Award and never leave the film room again), and now he’s returning for a senior season at Iowa.

When the big kid from DC who lacked speed and leaping ability committed to Iowa, nobody could have guessed how much it would mean to this program to have him stay all four years. Nobody except his dad and the kid himself.

With the lock for player of the year returning, Iowa has all the pieces to have a program-defining season. They are being touted as a top-5 team nationally and the odds on favorites to win the Big Ten regular season title. They haven’t been ranked top-5 in the preseason since * checks notes * EVER. Iowa hasn’t won a regular season title since 1979. The hype for this team is unreal.

And it’s 100% warranted.

Aside from Garza, who is sure to leave as the program’s all-time leading scorer and potentially all-time leading rebounder rebounder, the Hawkeyes return Jordan Bohannon, the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made and potentially conference leader in the same category by year’s end, another 3-point threat as lethal as Bohannon with sophomore sensation CJ Fredrick, another NBA prospect and All-Big Ten Wong in Joe Wieskamp, another talented post reportedly the second-best player on the roster last year in Jack Nunge, the most versatile player I’ve ever seen in Connor McCaffery, the most electric PG we’ve had in a decade in Joe Toussaint AND FIVE INCOMING FRESHMEN WHO ALL BRING SOMETHING THE TEAM DOESN'T ALREADY HAVE. It’s. Un. Real.

As Iowa fans, we don’t get nice things. So, like some of you, I spent the last several weeks preparing myself for the inevitability that was Luka announcing his departure yesterday. Not only did it make sense from an uncertainty surrounding college hoops standpoint, and it absolutely felt like Frank Garza has been setting us up to let us down gently the last several weeks (and then there’s Connor McCaffery seemingly letting us down not so gently the night before the announcement), but we just don’t get the stars aligning here. Ever.

Now they are and it’s hard not to feel torn between pure joy and the uneasy feeling it’s all about to be taken away from us with a repeat of this pst March. But damnit this is Monday. It’s Overreaction Monday and this is no place for caution or realism.

The 2020-2021 season is set up to be one for the Iowa Basketball history books. This will be the highest rated team we’ve seen in the preseason. They will have the best player in the nation to build around, and the side pieces are good enough to be a borderline NCAA Tournament team without him. The roster is full of players with a chip on their shoulder. They have confidence and swagger. With the game on the line, there are multiple players who would be top choice in other programs to take the shot. They’ve added quickness and athleticism in the backcourt this offseason, as well as returned a star and a potential future star. This is, without a doubt, the best team we’ve seen in Iowa City in a generation.

In a world where we’ve become accustomed to having our hopes crushed, it’s hard to see how that happens with the roster Fran has at his disposal. This is a championship caliber team. Luka Garza is poised to leave town as the greatest Hawkeye to ever don the black and gold. If you aren’t through the moon with your expectations and excitement, check your pulse. Fandom comes with ups and downs - 2020-2021 should bring the highest of highs.

Let’s be mad again. And if it doesn’t go the way we expect, then we can be mad. Again.