IOWA CITY — Luka Garza didn’t come into his first season of college basketball with any sort of expectations.
He didn’t really know whether he would start or be a major producer for the Iowa basketball team as a freshman. Chances are, he didn’t expect to be named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week in the first week of his first season.
But that’s what happened. Garza was named Monday as the winner of the Big Ten’s weekly freshman award after averaging a team-best 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in the Hawkeyes’ two opening victories.
“I didn’t really expect anything,’’ Garza said following Sunday’s 92-58 victory over Alabama State. “I was just working hard and I knew that I could play at this level and I had the talent to put up the kind of numbers I have been. I think there’s a lot of room for me to improve and I’ll continue to do that.’’
The 6-foot-11 center from Washington D.C. made all six of his shots from the field while scoring 16 points against Chicago State on Friday, then added 11 points and 13 rebounds against Alabama State.
He is only the second Iowa player in the past 20 years to collect at least 16 points and five rebounds in his debut, joining Aaron White. He is the fifth Hawkeye in 20 years to record a double-double in either his first or second game.
Garza’s 27 points and 18 rebounds have come in only 37 minutes of action. Iowa starters have not played in the last 13 minutes of either game so far.
His 13 rebounds Sunday included five at the offensive end of the court.
“He has that uncanny ability to know exactly where the ball is going,’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He knows where the ball is. The ball seems to find him … Great instincts, long arms, tough, relentless. He has all the qualities you want in a good offensive rebounder.’’
McCaffery has been very pleased with what he has seen of both his 6-11 freshmen. Jack Nunge has come off the bench to contribute 16 points, nine rebounds and a team-leading seven steals in the two games.
“I knew they were both really good,’’ McCaffery said. “You don’t always know what a guy’s going to do under pressure, but I had watched those guys in a lot of difficult situations and that usually tells you …
“None of those guys ever have any difficulty with pressure situations, whether it be pressure in the moment or intense defensive activity. Nothing bothers them.’’