Garza picked Big Ten Player of Year, Gard gets coach honors
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Iowa center Luka Garza is the Big Ten Player of the Year after emerging as one of the nation’s best players this season, while Wisconsin’s Greg Gard took Coach of the Year honors in voting announced Monday.
Garza leads the Big Ten in scoring and ranks fifth in the nation at 23.9 points per game and is averaging 9.8 rebounds. The 6-foot-11 junior averaged 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season.
Garza has 16 consecutive games with 20 or more points, helping the Hawkeyes go 20-11 overall and 11-9 in Big Ten play to earn the fifth seed in the conference tournament that starts Wednesday in Indianapolis. He scored a career-high 44 in a loss at Michigan on Dec. 6.
Garza, Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Penn State’s Lamar Stevens were first-team, all-conference picks by both the media and coaches. Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu was chosen by the media, and Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. was selected by the coaches.
Gard led Wisconsin to a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship, along with Maryland and Michigan State. The Badgers enter the conference tournament with eight consecutive wins and a 21-10 record — going 14-6 in league play. But it hasn’t been easy.
Assistant coach Howard Moore suffered third-degree burns in a car accident in May that resulted in the deaths of his wife and their 9-year-old daughter. Moore went into cardiac arrest in July and has not returned to work.
In late January, second-leading scorer Kobe King announced he was transferring from Wisconsin.
Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman was selected Defensive Player of the Year. Maryland’s Aaron Wiggins took Sixth Man of the Year honors, and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn was chosen Freshman of the Year.