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IOWA HAWKEYES PLAYER PREVIEWS: JOSH OGLESBY

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Iowa's resident sharp-shooter bounced back for a solid junior season, but what will it take to raise his play from Ogles-B to an Ogles-A?

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Josh Oglesby

Bio: Senior, 6'5" 208 lb. (Cedar Rapids)

Last season: 21 games, 6.6 pts/g, 3.7 3PA/g, 40.3% 3PT%

What we saw last season:

Unfortunately, Oglesby's season started off with a foot injury that kept him sidelined for the first 12 games, but once he got back on the court, the sharpshooter had his best season as a Hawkeye. He notched career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and points per game.  He shook off a really dreadful sophomore season that saw all of his shooting percentages drop below 30%, and emerged as one of Fran McCaffery's more trusted bench players. In a very crowded lineup, Oglesby managed to grab nearly 20 minutes a game, which believe it or not put him fourth on the team.

How did he do it? He rediscovered his long-range stroke, of course, but it goes beyond that. With his 6'5" size and sturdy frame, Oglesby actually became one of McCaffery's better defensive options on the perimeter. Mike Gesell's poor shooting and small stature made him more and more of a liability, while Anthony Clemmons represented a major step back in terms of offense, which left Oglesby as a relatively attractive option. With Devyn Marble at the point, Oglesby offered dependable shooting at shooting guard and solid defense, which was enough.

And Oglesby had his moments. He torched Minnesota with five threes in just 17 minutes, made crucial shots in the team's road upset against Ohio State, and represented one of the few bright spots in Iowa's demoralizing road loss to Minnesota. But the pinnacle of Oglesby's season was his Gatensesque 17 points in the game that wound up representing the turning point of the season: Iowa's home loss against Wisconsin. With Iowa's other options struggling to score, Oglesby made a series of increasingly difficult (covered) jump shots. In a better world, Oglesby's miraculous 7-9 shooting would have been enough to seal the victory, but, well, Wisconsin was (and is) a damn good team. Still, that shooting performance gave a glimpse of a different kind of Oglesby: one who could not just catch and shoot, but who good generate offense himself off the dribble.

What we need to see this season:

We saw what Oglesby needs to be at a bare minimum if he wants to stay on the court: a plus three-point shooter who plays sound defense and uses his height to bother opposing jump-shooters. If he is that, he'll play, and probably do just about what he did last year. He'll have his moments where teams forget about him and let him shoot five open threes a game, but more often he'll be a spacing element on offense and guard bigger twos and threes on defense.

The interesting question is whether he'll do it from the starting lineup or not. Judging from the sample size of one that was Sunday's game against Northwood, Oglesby will be coming off the bench. That's... a little surprising. Given the miniature size of a Gesell/Clemmons backcourt and the frequently iffy shooting that pair offers, I would have expected Oglesby to crack the starting lineup. Especially since dropping Oglesby to the second unit forces the team to play duplicative lineups with two point guards starting (Gesell/Clemmons) and two shooting guards coming off the bench (Oglesby/Jok). But it's possible that Fran intends the second unit to have an instant offense effect, with Trey Dickerson driving the lane and kicking out to shooters Jok and Oglesby. However it works out, even if Oglesby does not start, I would put a small wager down that you will see him out there finishing games more often than not, if only for his defense and lack of a penchant for majorly f-ing things up.

Best case scenario:

This may be a pipe dream of mine, but I actually like Oglesby as a shot creator on his own. He's been shoehorned into the role of spot-up shooter, but little clues will tell you that he's itching to break out of those confines and be what he was born to be: an off-the-dribble scorer. Don't laugh — just look at his shot: for a spot-up shooter, it's pretty weird. He's always fading away slightly or drifting to the side, not at all like the pogo-stick, straight up-and-down form of great catch-and-shoot marksmen like Ray Allen or Kyle Korver. Oglesby shoots like someone who has been trained to shoot over defenders off the dribble, someone who needs that fadeaway to create an extra inch of space to get his shot off. He has tried to conform his essential nature as a scorer into that of a pure shooter, but the fit has not been perfect.

Here's my Oglesby fantasy: the team uses him like they used Matt Gatens his senior year. They give him the green light and the ball in his hands from time to time. Just like Gatens, Oglesby is not particularly quick or wonderful at passing, but being 6'5" knockdown shooter cures a lot of ills. Teams would fear the prospect of Oglesby shooting off the dribble in the way they wouldn't Gesell or Clemmons, because Oglesby could actually get his shot off without getting blocked. The added benefit of this scenario is that it frees up players like Aaron White, Adam Woodbury and Gabriel Olaseni to do what they do best: rebound the ball or cut to the rim for dunks. The prospect of White or Woodbury jab-stepping the parquet into dust while Oglesby withers in the opposite corner (with no one left to crash the boards when the inevitable missed shot goes up) fills me with dread.

Most likely scenario:

Oglesby is more or less what he was last year: a good shooter who is used a little less than he should be on a team that is fairly deficient in shooting. He averages 40% from three, around seven points a game, and is second on the team in effective field goal percentage to Aaron White. My dream of Josh Oglesby, 17 points-per-game scorer, dies a quiet death, and years later, Oglesby is shot in a rocket into space to watch bad movies.

oglesmike