Luka Garza will miss his second straight game Saturday when the Iowa basketball team takes on Bryant University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
However, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery seems optimistic that his 6-foot-11 sophomore center will be back when the Hawkeyes resume Big Ten play next Thursday with a game at Purdue.
Garza sprained his ankle near the end of practice last Friday and sat out the Hawkeyes’ 110-64 rout of Savannah State.
“We knew it was a good one,” McCaffery said Friday on a teleconference. “At this point, he’s just day to day. He’s making progress. He’s working really hard, has been really diligent with his treatment. He’s just not ready to go (Saturday).”
Connor McCaffery, who also missed the Savannah State game while undergoing concussion protocol, will return to action for the 24th-ranked Hawkeyes.
Bryant, which was 3-28 a year ago, comes in with a 3-7 record, is 338th in the latest Ken Pomeroy power rankings and doesn’t have much size. None of the Bulldogs’ starters in a recent 68-67 victory over Dartmouth were taller than 6-5, although one of them, SaBastian Townes, weighs 260 pounds and freshman Patrick Harding, who has started a majority of the games, is 6-9.
The Bulldogs don’t figure to pose a major challenge to the Hawkeyes (10-2), but McCaffery said there’s never really a good time to have a player sidelined by injury.
“We’ve had sort of a rash of sprained ankles and smaller things, which I guess is better than having a guy like Cordell (Pemsl), who is out for the season …,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a good time for us to have to go through this because Luka is going to miss two games. He needs some time. You can point toward the Purdue game, but he’s still missing practice time so he won’t be where he would be even if he’s able to play against Purdue.”
Bettendorf’s Nicholas Baer again will replace Garza in the starting lineup, and the absence of the starting center also is likely to mean increased playing time for 6-9 Ryan Kriener off the bench.
McCaffery has been impressed with what he has seen of Kriener, who reached career highs in rebounds (9) and assists (4) against Savannah State.
“It’s never good to have a guy out, but it’s another opportunity for him to grow and get some quality minutes,” McCaffery said.