Iowa Men's Basketball

Bloodlines give Iowa Hawkeyes some basketball oxygen

It isn't just Connor McCaffery who comes from a basketball family

Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) shoots over Green Bay’s Manny Patterson (15) during their game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 11. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa forward Luka Garza (55) shoots over Green Bay’s Manny Patterson (15) during their game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 11. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Last week, Patrick McCaffery of Iowa City West signed a national letter of intent to play men’s basketball at Iowa in 2019.

Among those at his signing ceremony were Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery and redshirt freshman point guard Connor McCaffery, Patrick’s father and brother.

Given that Fran McCaffery played Division I basketball and the mother of Connor and Patrick is Margaret McCaffery, who played basketball at Notre Dame, there’s a lot of hoops DNA coursing through the sons’ veins.

Considering how well Connor has started his first full season as a Hawkeye and considering Patrick is a genuine blue-chip recruit, this father/sons thing will be a story here for quite some time. But Iowa’s roster has several basketball bloodlines, which doesn’t hurt a team one bit.

Junior post player Ryan Kriener’s father, Rich Kriener, played basketball at Mankato State. Ryan’s sister, Mikia, will play volleyball at Augustana (S.D.) University.

Guard Jordan Bohannon’s dad, Gordy Bohannon, was a football quarterback at Iowa. But his three brothers all played D-I basketball. The father passed the competitor gene to his sons.

Hawkeye sophomore forward Luka Garza, the MVP in last week’s 2K Empire Classic in New York, has quite a basketball lineage.

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“I was taught basketball kind of like by a community, all the people in my family that played the game, led by my father,” Garza said. “But my mother, my grandfather, my cousins, everybody, uncles, everyone pretty much played basketball either professionally or at a high level of college.”

Frank Garza, Luka’s father, played at the University of Idaho.

“He played with a bunch of freshmen in his senior year, so he was really keyed on,” Garza said.

“He played against John Stockton when he was at Gonzaga, played at UCLA when Reggie Miller was there.”

Garza’s mother, Sejla, briefly played professionally in her home nation of Yugoslavia. His grandfather played at the University of Hawaii. A cousin played at St. John’s. An uncle, Teoman Alibegovic, played at Oregon State and is the Slovenian national team’s all-time leading scorer.

“I think it makes a real difference,” Garza said. “You learn off their experiences and their lessons and their knowledge about the game.

“It’s definitely something that helps, and I think that’s the case with a lot of people on our team.”

You watch Connor McCaffery play and you listen to him speak about basketball, and you wouldn’t think “second-year freshman.” This is someone who has absorbed basketball at home since he was a wee lad.

A few days ago, Fox Sports’ Doug Gottlieb tweeted “I’ve played, coached, analyzed and evaluated sport ... and growing up in a basketball household absolutely matters — don’t believe me, ask anyone w/a lick of basketball IQ. Basketball is my family business.”

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“I recruited Doug,” Fran McCaffery said, “so I know the family he grew up in. I know how his father was and how tough he was. But he also loved him and really prepared him for what he was facing.

“I think we (he and Connor) know what’s coming. You can talk about it, and you can show him film. But it’s how you’re raised and how you’ve been prepared before.

“When you make the decision to come here and play at Iowa and play in the Big Ten, that is what you signed up for. That’s what you want. That’s what you expect. And there’s always going to be some bumps in the road, and it’s how you deal with that, and I think what Doug is referring to and what we’re talking about with Connor is that preparation helps you deal with those bumps, too, just the continuous grind that’s required to be great and to be successful at this level.”

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