NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – Luka Garza won the battle but Jack Nunge took the war.

Iowa’s freshmen big men delighted the crowd in their first public viewing during Sunday’s Prime Time League opener. Garza scored 41 points, the most of anyone, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Nunge netted 35 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, the high for the day.

Nunge’s Vinton Merchants team squeaked by Garza and Westport Touchless Auto Wash, 98-97, on a late three-pointer by Hawkeye junior Brady Ellingson (25 points, 8 rebounds). That was the first thing that Garza mentioned during his postgame interview, playing well but losing.

If one thing stood out about he and Nunge it was their competitiveness. They guarded each other a lot and, well, actually tried, which isn’t always a given in this league.

I really like Nunge’s length and athleticism. He’s not a string-bean and holds his own banging in the paint. Perhaps the thing that stands out the most with the Indiana native is his ability to get off the floor quickly and repeatedly. It allows him to avoid having his shot blocked inside and also snag rebounds before his opponent.

Garza plays with a lot of emotion. He’s not quite as agile or explosive as Nunge but he’s just as effective. He shows nice footwork in the paint and positions his body well. He has a smooth touch around the rim and looks comfortable shooting the three.

As I said, these guys are willing defenders and pretty good at it. Granted, it’s only the summer league and not the Big Ten, but the tools are there and they’re physically strong for freshmen. They also are able passers and screeners with the ability to run the pick-and-roll and guard it.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of these two guys this summer. I’ve witnessed plenty of guys struggle during their first night of the PTL but this duo thrived on the stage.

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Other Observations:

-I was really impressed with Maishe Dailey. The sophomore guard is long and smooth. He plays efficient basketball. He scored 23 points on only 12 shots, handles it well and finds open teammates.

-Ahmad Wagner doesn’t thrive in the PTL setting, as it’s often one or two passes and a shot. He’s more of a role player for Iowa and he still shows those strong traits every good team needs when he’s running here. He may never be a star, but he’s a well-rounded basketball player willing to do the dirty work.

-Jordan Bohannon has added a running floater to his offensive game and it’s quite effective. Teams obviously push out on him with his ability to shoot from deep, so he can blow by them and knock down the floater before the second line of defense reaches him.

-Ryan Kriener looks to be in even better shape than he finished last season. His midrange game is developing and he shows improved ball handling. He dominated Sunday.

-Tyler Cook likes to dunk and he’s pretty good at it. This, you already know. The St. Louis product appears even more explosive than he did at this time last year, and that’s saying something.

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August 17, 2017 — Iowa Hoops: Non-Conference Schedule an RPI Killer

The Iowa Hawkeyes have a non-conference schedule that narrows their margin for error this season and could have NCAA tournament implications.

Here’s how the Hawkeyes fared statistically Sunday in the PTL: