clearn.png
Sunday September 19th, 2021 10:08PM

Iowa's Luka Garza named AP men's college player of the year

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Luka Garza knew what everyone expected before returning for a final run as Iowa’s unquestioned star.

Pressure? Garza felt it, all right, enough to know his mental health required the same attention as his game.

“I needed meditation to lean on, to be able to mainly just go out there and be myself and not worry about anything else," Garza said.

That best explains why the 6-foot-11, 265-pound senior is The Associated Press men’s college basketball national player of the year after finishing second last season. He was the runaway choice for the award announced Thursday, receiving 50 of 63 votes from AP Top 25 voters.

Ayo Dosunmu, who led Illinois to the Big Ten Tournament title and a No. 1 NCAA seed, was second with six votes, followed by Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham with three. Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert and Baylor’s Jared Butler each earned two votes.

Garza ranked second nationally by averaging 24.1 points with 8.7 rebounds. He improved shooting percentages across the board – including going from 36% on 3-pointers last year to 44% – and his assist-to-turnover ratio after working on passing ahead of double- and triple-teams he knew would come all season long.

Garza led the Hawkeyes to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, then accounted for nearly half their points (36 of 80) in a second-round upset loss to Oregon. The native of Washington, D.C., finished as the career scoring leader (2,306) at Iowa, which will retire his No. 55 jersey.

“We may never see another one like him,” coach Fran McCaffery said.

Sure, he had the big numbers and helped the Hawkeyes spend nearly the entire season in the top 10 nationally. But Garza figures the daily ritual of resetting his mind while focusing on something as simple as his breathing led to all of that — particularly in a season altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You had to be in your house quarantined, going to the gym, going home,” Garza said. “There’s no distraction. If you play a bad game, that’s all you’re thinking about. So you need to be in a healthy mental space or you would just let it eat at you – especially a person like me who thinks as much as I do.

“I needed it to be a daily thing because I faced this anxiety every single day. It definitely became something that helped me out a lot and contributed to my being able to be there and be in the moment every single game and every single day.”

Garza was second to Dayton’s Obi Toppin for last year’s award. It was during that season that he began gameday meditation at the suggestion of his father, a former player at Idaho.

As Frank Garza put it: “It’s worth taking the mind to the gym.”

“Every player deals with that performance anxiety and overthinking, so he was not immune to it,” the elder Garza said. “But what happened as the stakes got higher, and the performance requirement was higher, the pressure becomes at the same level. And if you’re not dealing with it, that will consume you. That will eat you alive.”

As a senior, Garza moved to daily meditation, typically 20 to 25 minutes via Zoom with his father and Frank’s business partner, GuruGanesha Khalsa. Pregame sessions sometimes included some teammates, and Luka also used the Calm meditation-and-sleep phone app.

“I got to a point where I was waking up and I did a meditation every single day throughout the season because it was a daily thing that I was dealing with,” he said. “I’d turn on the TV and my name was being talked about. I needed to be able to just focus on what I wanted to accomplish as a team.”

Some of that bled into games, too, with Garza practicing breathing exercises before free throws or during timeouts.

He's sticking with meditation, too, as he pursues an NBA career. He has all the proof he needs that it can work.

“There's a lot of things in life that you want to happen or want to go better than they are and everything like that," he said. "So it's going to hit somebody at some point, and it's just a very useful tool for really anybody.”

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Floyd's girlfriend recalls their struggles with addiction
George Floyd’s girlfriend has tearfully told a jury the story of how they met -- at a Salvation Army shelter where he was a security guard with “this great, deep Southern voice, raspy” -- and how they both struggled mightily with an addiction to opioids
4:01PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Iowa's Luka Garza named AP men's college player of the year
Luka Garza of Iowa is The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year
4:00PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Biden's 'Jobs Cabinet' to sell infrastructure as GOP resists
President Joe Biden is setting about convincing America it needs his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan
3:59PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
What cold? Frigid temps can't stop joy as fans return to MLB
Even in the freezing cold, it was hard to dim the joy for fans across Major League Baseball
3:27PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams retiring after 33-year run
North Carolina says Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring
3:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US approves 2 more coronavirus home tests
U.S. health officials have authorized two more over-the-counter coronavirus tests used at home to get quick results
3:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Oklahoma St star freshman Cade Cunningham to enter NBA draft
Cade Cunningham has announced he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic freshman season that saw him named a first-team AP All-American
11:10AM ( 5 hours ago )
North Carolina: Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams retiring
North Carolina says Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring
10:50AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP survey: ADs fear sharing revenue with college athletes
A bill introduced by two U.S. Senators would require schools to share the profits they make from revenue-generating sports with that athletes that play those games
9:16AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
AP college sports survey: ADs on revenue sharing, Title IX
The Associated Press asked 357 Division I athletic directors a series of questions about the effects the potential changes to the way athletes are compensated in addition to scholarships would have on college sports
11:01AM ( 5 hours ago )
High court sympathetic to college athletes in NCAA dispute
The Supreme Court seems sympathetic to college athletes in a dispute with the NCAA over rules limiting their education-related compensation
5:04PM ( 23 hours ago )
Ball in their court: Justices take on NCAA restrictions
With the March Madness basketball tournament ongoing, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case about how colleges can reward athletes who play Division I basketball and football
7:01AM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Baylor beats Arkansas 81-72 for first Final Four in 71 years
Baylor reached the Final Four for the first time in 71 years, getting 22 points from MaCio Teague and a dominating defensive performance from Davion Mitchell to beat Arkansas 81-72
2:34AM ( 2 days ago )
Houston tops Oregon State, reaches 1st Final Four since '84
Houston overcame a blown 17-point lead to hold off Oregon State 67-61 in the NCAA Tournament and reach the Final Four for the first time in 37 years
12:19AM ( 2 days ago )
USC shuts down Oregon 82-68 to end 20-year Elite Eight wait
Isaiah White scored 22 points and Southern California shut down Oregon’s potent offense to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2001 with an 82-68 win in the West Region semifinals
12:01AM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
Biden's 'Jobs Cabinet' to sell infrastructure as GOP resists
President Joe Biden is setting about convincing America it needs his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan
3:59PM ( 21 minutes ago )
California court says USA Taekwondo must protect athletes
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee was not liable for the sexual abuse of former female taekwondo competitors because it was not close enough to their coach or the athletes
3:56PM ( 23 minutes ago )
US draws close to 100M vaccinations as baseball resumes
The U.S. is moving closer toward vaccinating 100 million Americans against COVID-19 in a race against an uptick in cases that health officials fear could lead to another surge of infections
3:47PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Floyd's girlfriend recalls their struggles with addiction
George Floyd’s girlfriend has tearfully told a jury the story of how they met -- at a Salvation Army shelter where he was a security guard with “this great, deep Southern voice, raspy” -- and how they both struggled mightily with an addiction to opioids
3:44PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Hawks F Collins out at least a week with sprained ankle
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins will be out at least a week with a sprained left ankle, another blow to the injury plagued team
3:38PM ( 42 minutes ago )