Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa's Luka Garza happy to trade some of his points for wins

'Sharing is Caring' could be Iowa men's basketball mantra in 2020-21 season

Iowa's Joe Wieskamp (10) and Luka Garza (55) celebrate their basketball team's win over Cincinnati last Dec. 21 in Chica
Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp (10) and Luka Garza (55) celebrate their basketball team’s win over Cincinnati last Dec. 21 in Chicago’s United Center. (Matt Marton/Associated Press)

There’s just one basketball. Four players on the fifth-ranked Iowa men’s team have averaged double-digit scoring in a season, and Luka Garza scored 23.9 points per game last season.

On a club with a lot of players who like to have the ball in their hands and know how to put it in the basket, how do you get everyone to be happy sharing?

“That comes from the top down,” said Hawkeye junior guard Connor McCaffery. “Luka, some games maybe he only shoots 10 shots and he has six assists because they’re doubling him and he’s kicking out passes to J-Bo, CJ, Wiesy (Jordan Bohannon, CJ Fredrick, Joe Wieskamp).

“You can ask Luka. I think he’ll be just as happy with that than him getting 30 or whatever the case. Having him as our leader, having him feel that way, I think it just passes down to everybody else.”

Garza could be like All-America cornerback Desmond King was for Iowa football. King had eight interceptions as a junior and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. He had just three picks as a senior, but was probably a better player than the year before.

“My main focus going into the season is winning,” first-team All-America Garza said. “I just want to win a lot, as much as I can.

“I feel like as an individual player I’ve done a lot. It doesn’t matter what happens this year individually for me as long as our team succeeds. That’s why I came back.”

Earlier this month, Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery talked about what unselfishness really means in basketball.

“Do you have a team of willing passers?” he said. “And what that means is when you’re open, I throw you the ball right then. I don’t exhaust my opportunities to score for myself and then throw you the ball when they’re exhausted because now it’s late, and you can’t do anything with it.

“It’s putting yourself in a position to make the pass at the appropriate time because that’s what’s going to lead to a bucket. I don’t care how good of a shooter you might be or how good of a low post scorer you might be, if you don’t get the ball at the right time to that person, they’re not going to score. So I think we have a really good understanding of that.”

Junior small forward Wieskamp averaged 14 points last season. He might score 20 a game on a team with fewer good scoring options.

“At the end of the day everyone wants to score,” Wieskamp said, “but it’s making the right basketball play. If you have an open shot, you’re going to take it. If not, we’re going to look for driving kicks because we have shooters all over the floor.

“Obviously, we can feed Luka and he can score at will.”

Bohannon may be viewed to many as a shooter first, second and third. The senior guard could, after all, become the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3-point baskets before the season’s over. But he’ll sometimes be on the court with three, even four other 3-point threats in Garza, Wieskamp, Fredrick and Connor McCaffery.

“My role, I think, has just been changing year in, year out as you saw the first 10 games I played last year (before redshirting),” Bohannon said. “I had a game against Minnesota where I didn’t score a point and had 10 assists.

“I see myself kind of being in that same transitioning of my role from game to game depending on what the team needs. If I don’t need to score and I have 15 assists, so be it. I’m OK with it as long as we win.”

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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