IOWA CITY — Ordinarily, Luka Garza would be looking forward to this.
He’s in the midst of a solid freshman season with the Iowa basketball team and his next game is back home in the Washington D.C. area against Maryland. The Terrapins’ XFINITY Center is only 11 miles from where Garza went to high school. It’s a chance to play in front of family, high school pals and former coaches.
But in the wake of the Hawkeyes’ fourth straight Big Ten loss Thursday night, Garza frowned and shook his head about what should be a triumphant homecoming.
“If you asked me about it at a different moment, I’d probably be more excited about that,’’ Garza said. “It’s another tough team. It’ll be a great road test for us. We’ve been on the road a couple of times, haven’t capitalized … We need to do that this time.’’
Garza’s mood pretty much reflects the entire Iowa team right now.
The Hawkeyes are floundering along at 0-4 in the Big Ten and now are facing the prospect of playing three consecutive road games.
Perhaps most frustrating about their recent lack of success is that it is as difficult to explain as it is to swallow.
The Hawkeyes have had moments where they look good at both ends of the court. They seem to have corrected their turnover problems. They rebounded better in a Thursday night loss to Ohio State than in Tuesday’s loss to Michigan.
But there is an inconsistency from one moment to the next that is baffling. And disturbing.
“It’s not something where you can say, ‘OK, do this and things will be better,’’’ head coach Fran McCaffery said.
In simple terms, the Hawkeyes seemingly have fallen into their early-season pattern of playing the game in spurts. In both losses this week, there was one major lapse in the middle of the first half that decided the game.
They let Michigan go on a 22-4 scoring run in a game they lost by seven points. Ohio State had a 16-1 first-half run and won by 11.
“We played hard in spurts, we played well in spurts but unfortunately we haven’t been able to put it all together these last two games,’’ junior Nicholas Baer said Thursday night.
In Maryland, the Hawkeyes will be facing a team with similar youth — the Terps start two freshmen and two sophomores — but with fewer consistency problems. They won seven straight games before being drilled by No. 1-ranked Michigan State on Thursday.
The Hawkeyes aren’t really worried about the team they’re facing. They are mostly focused on getting their own act together.
“We just can’t get down on ourselves when things aren’t going our way,’’ sophomore guard Jordan Bohannon said. “We need to keep pushing forward …
“Where great teams are made,’’ he added, “is what do you do after a loss, after adversity gets thrown in your face. And obviously it’s been thrown in our face quite a bit this year.’’