Iowa's basketball season officially gets underway on Friday evening, with a visit from 26-point underdogs UNC-Wilmington, but the Iowa cagers have already suffered their first loss of the season: Josh Oglesby injured his foot during practice last night and is out "indefinitely."
Love him or
loathe him be somewhat frustrated with him (I don't think anyone loathes Oglesby; that's kind of extreme), Oglesby has been a fixture of Iowa's backcourt since arriving two years ago. His shooting form has been the subject of fawning praise from Fran almost since day one, but the actual on-court results have only sporadically backed that up.
2011-12: 18.7 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, .398 FG%, .372 3P%
2012-13: 16.2 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, .274 FG%, .269 3P%
Last year was a definite step in the wrong direction for Oglesby. After a fairly solid true freshman campaign, his numbers went backward in every category, most notably (and alarmingly) in the shooting percentages. His three-point shooting was, in a word, ghastly. Among Iowa players who attempted 40 or more 3s, his 27% connection rate was the lowest by far other than Aaron White (23%). That's kind of a problem when your main role on the team is to be the designated gunner and stretch defenses.
While Iowa wasn't always able to do a great job of getting shooters open looks last year, Oglesby had a solid number of good looks -- he just wasn't able to convert them, often because he hesitated before attempting his shot, giving a defender a split-second to alter or otherwise affect his shot. Oglesby's main problem last year seemed mental; it's a little too Cliche Sportswriting 101 to play armchair psychologist at times, but it was hard not to watch him last season and think that there was a guy who didn't seem to have much confidence in his shot (during games, at least; judging by the comments from his coaches and teammates, he remained a lethal shooter during practices). That impression was backed up by the news out of Iowa Media Day last month that Oglesby had been seeing a sports psychologist in the offseason, in the hopes of getting past the mental woes that were undoing his in-game shooting. Now it looks like we'll have to wait several weeks (at least) to see what impact that work had on Oglesby's in-game performance.
The good news is that Iowa enters this season with a deep rotation and quite a bit of talent to draw upon; Fran has repeatedly stated that he felt that this team went 11-deep and was planning on playing a lot of guys. I guess the team is now 10-deep for the forseeable future and the rotation is a little bit shorter now. With Oglesby's absence, I expect Mike Gesell to spend a little bit more time at the 2-guard spot (Anthony Clemmons will probably be Roy Devyn Marble's primary backup at PG). I'd also expect that this means we'll be seeing a lot more Peter Jok early in the season than we might have otherwise; hopefully our lone true freshman is up to the task (especially on the defensive end, where Oglesby was a hugely underrated contributor for Iowa last year; that defense is what kept him on the floor so much, even when his shooting stroke was ice-cold).
One of the biggest question mark for Iowa entering this season was whether the outside shooting would/could improve enough to help Iowa become an NCAA Tournament team and potential Big Ten contender. Last year's team shot a horrific 31% from long range, 308th in the entire nation. Statistical regression would suggest that they should be at least a little better this year (it would be hard to be that inept again, frankly), but just how much better they can be from outside (the trickle-down effect that will have on the rest of the offense in terms of spacing and open looks) is still very much TBD. Losing Oglesby for a while (MESSAGE BOARD RUMORZ suggest several weeks, with a possible return around Christmas/New Year's) is a definite blow to those efforts.
As always, we'll update this story when/if more information becomes available.