The Iowa Hawkeyes have been a top-five team in the country so far this season, and a big reason for their success has been the play off the bench. Right now, 36% of the team’s minutes played comes from the bench, as well as 33% of their points. It’s a luxury this team hasn’t had in the past, and this year they’re taking full advantage of it.
“We have a lot of great guys off the bench,” said Iowa senior Luka Garza. “Having that ability to take the pressure off when we get in foul trouble is awesome to have someone on the bench and come and produce. Those guys who come off and produce add a whole different thing to our team”
Iowa was ranked last season as well, but injuries forced the rotation to tighten up, putting a strain on those still playing.
“We didn’t have all our guys, especially Jack (Nunge) and Jordan (Bohannon),” said Garza. “When we have those guys it adds a whole different dimension to our team. Especially Keegan and Patrick as well. We were a really good team last year but sometimes all five of us had to play forty minutes.”
Now, head coach Fran McCaffery has no shortage of players he trusts off the bench.
“We didn’t have the depth we have now last year,” said McCaffery. “Really a lot fell on the shoulders of Luka and Connor, CJ, and Joe. We didn’t have a lot of depth. We had three guys off to the side with injuries. This team is special in that regard. Jack Nunge, Keegan Murray, Joe Toussaint, Patrick, and as I keep saying, I can go deeper if I have to. I have confidence in those other guys.”
“Jack Nunge, great shooting big that stretches the floor, tough on the glass, can score in the post,” said Garza. “Keegan crashes the glass, plays hard every time, he’s Nicholas Baer 2.0. Patrick McCaffery can shoot the ball, great at the top of the press. We have a lot of great guys off the bench. Obviously, Joe (Toussaint) who is one of the better point guards in America. That just helps our team a lot.”