Josh Oglesby came to Iowa to do one thing: shoot the basketball, particularly from three point range. Sure, he brings some other skills to the table, but none of them were enough to get him recruited to Iowa City outside of the shooting prowess he demonstrated in high school. In year one, Oglesby put together a solid true freshman season. He averaged almost 20 minutes per game and shot 37% from downtown. That's good. Then came his sophomore season and that percentage dropped to 27% on 35 more attempts. That's not good. In addition to the poor shooting, he continued to look like he lacked confidence on the court, passing up open three point opportunities (something we saw during his freshman year, too). His sophomore slump was so bad that he saw a sports psychologist in the offseason to help improve confidence in his shot. Granted, we've all heard and read fluff pieces like that in the offseason in just about every sport we watch. It's similar to the "player A came into camp in the best shape of their life" story. Only this time, it may have worked.
Now can we attribute Oglesby's bounce back directly to working with the sports psychologist? Maybe, but maybe not. Who really knows? And, at this point, who really cares? The important thing is Josh Oglesby is back, and he looks like a legitimate Big Ten contributor. That's exciting for us as fans, but more importantly that's exciting for Josh and that's exciting for the team come next season.
The Year in Review
Oglesby's bounce back is pretty remarkable when you think about it. Last offseason, coming off what was most likely the worst season of his basketball career at any level, he was ready to prove that he was more than just a good "practice shooter." That chip on his shoulder would have to wait even longer, though, as it was announced that he would miss 4-6 weeks with a foot injury not long before the Hawkeyes' regular season opener. So in addition to battling his mind, Oglesby was going to have to do battle with his foot as well. That's not an insignificant injury either, considering it could screw with his conditioning and more importantly it could keep him from practicing his jump shot.
At the time, there were some people thinking that Oglesby's injury wasn't a big deal; they were already writing him off as not much more than bench fodder at that point. As a result, his December 22nd season debut against Arkansas Pine Bluff was welcomed, but not seen as a huge deal. Of course, that's where the comeback started. Oglesby used his first game of the year to show signs of a possible resurrection to his expected form. In 20 minutes on the court, Oglesby put up 13 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line. Most importantly, that 4-5 shooting was all from long range. Sure, it was only Arkansas Pine Bluff, but going 4-5 from three point range against a random, tiny school is better than going 1-5 from three point range against a random, tiny school. Anyway, we would soon find out if Oglesby was ready to live up to expectations, as Arkansas Pine Bluff would be his only real warm up before jumping right into Big Ten play. In his Big Ten debut vs. Nebraska, Oglesby was quiet, scoring 0 points on only 2 shot attempts in 11 minutes. He even had the same line the next game at Wisconsin. Ogles3? Yeah, not so much against Big Ten competition.
Finally, things started to change a little. In the next five games, Oglesby put up 5, 8, 17, and 8 and did so while going 1-3, 2-4, 5-7, and 2-3 from three point land. So, hey, maybe we've got something going on here. By the end of January, Josh was averaging 6.14 points per game and 0.34 points per minute on a 55% 3pt FG%. The scoring numbers aren't out of this world, but remember, we're talking about bench production. Those are good numbers. What was really weird about January was the fact that Oglesby took about 41% of his shots from inside the arc, which is low compared to his 30% season average. In February, his three point attempts jumped back up to 65% of his field goal attempts, and thanks to that extra point per shot, he averaged 0.39 points per minute and 7.86 points per game, despite shooting a much more normal 36% from long range. Needless to say, whatever doubt that remained about Oglesby's game was pretty much erased with that two month performance. He regained the confidence of his doubters and he also regained the confidence of his coach.
While some players were losing playing time, Oglesby was gaining playing time. Unfortunately, March wasn't as kind to him as January and February were.
His three point shooting dropped to 26%, which had an impact on his scoring because 88% of his 26 field goal attempts in March came from downtown. He may have had a rough final five games, but I'm not going to let a small sample size of five games get in the way of a very nice bounce back season. Just about every player goes through a slump at some point in a year, and this just happened to be Oglesby's. Unfortunately, it also coincided with a team-wide slump, but whatever.
Instead, what Oglesby showed everyone this year is that he does have that shooting touch that we heard Fran testify to seeing in practice. In his junior year, he put up a career high offensive rating, according to Kenpom's calculations. His 126.3 offensive rating this past season was better than his 114.6 he put up in his freshman season, and WAY better than his 93.6 during his sophomore whatever the hell that was. He also put up career highs in effective field goal percentage (57.7%), true shooting percentage (58.9%), and three point percentage (40.3%). Yes, he took fewer shots this season than in previous seasons thanks to injury, but he still put up 110 field goal attempts on the year and he only played against one cupcake non-conference team. The rest of the schedule was Big Ten or Tennessee for him, which only makes his shooting look more impressive. Finally, the fact that his 1.4 total win shares in only 21 games this year was the same number of win shares he was responsible for in his freshman year in 35 games is also pretty amazing. That's an average of 0.135 win shares per 40 minutes this season compared to to 0.087 per 40 two years ago and 0.070 last year. Yeah, that's what I call a comeback.
Here's a chart depicting Oglesby's resurgence this year.
Unsurprisingly, Oglesby likes three pointers and longer two pointers. Obvious chart is obvious.
As we all know, Oglesby doesn't get much of his offensive value from inside, so it's not surprising that he doesn't get much value from the free throw line either. Instead, his game is all about his shooting touch.
As for how well he shoots the ball, Oglesby isn't the greatest finisher around the rim, but he does shoot from distance better than the rest of the team. Seeing as that's why he was recruited, that's a positive. His efficiency could go down slightly next year, because it's probably unlikely that he will hit over 50% of his long twos in his senior season. But since that isn't the majority of his repertoire, that's not a huge deal. His three point shooting may drop a little too next season, but we shall see.
There's not really much else to highlight in Oglesby's game. He's a shooter, so he shoots the ball. He is also a very smart, sound player who doesn't turn the ball over and has the ability to find the open man with a pass. None of that really shows up on a chart, though. If we talk about defense, there are mixed reviews. Oglesby is a passable defender, thanks largely to his understanding of the game. However, when it comes to athleticism, he is vulnerable to quicker wing players driving to the basket on him. An individual player's statistical defensive rating follows the pattern of a team's overall defensive performance (players get higher ratings when their teams have higher ratings and vice versa), but even when Iowa's defense was good last year, Oglesby still had a defensive rating that estimated he was responsible for giving up 1 point per defensive possession. That's not real great, but again, that's not necessarily why he was recruited to play for Iowa.
In his senior year, what can we expect from Iowa's three point specialist? Well, that's a good question. I don't see there being a lot of development left in Josh's defensive game. His struggles against quicker wing players will most likely need to be met with improved team defense and most likely some zone. On offense, though, what can he realistically improve on? Well, that's also a tough question. Of course, we would all love him to get insanely hot and shoot better than 40% from three point range, but I don't think that is in the cards for him. He hasn't shown the ability to shoot quite that well in the past, so I just don't see it happening next year. That's not a big deal, though. If he shoots between 37% and 40% like his freshman and junior years, that will still be very valuable with as many three point attempts as he will likely take (barring injury, of course). So another season shooting the ball like he's capable of and another season of averaging around mid (maybe even high) 0.30s in points per minute should be around what we can expect (and be happy with) out of him.
Earlier in the year, I said Oglesby could have a senior year similar to that of former Minnesota Golden Gopher, Blake Hoffarber. That comparison, of course, should be adjusted for playing time and shot attempts. Oglesby is not going to play as big of a part in Iowa's offense as Hoffarber did in Minnesota's. Hell, depending on which variation of lineup that Fran settles on, he may not even start the majority of games next year. I'll go over possible starting lineups for next year in a later post, but with the number of options that Iowa has on the wing, it's not an insult if he does come off the bench. Peter Jok saw increased playing time at the end of this season and if he really blossoms this offseason (not entirely unlikely), he could step in for Marble at the starting two spot. Of course, Oglesby could start at the small forward position too (or switch Jok to the three and Oglesby to the two), but that would most likely depend on whether or not Fran wants Josh or Jarrod Uthoff to come off the bench first. And a wild card could be Aaron White staying at the starting small forward position, which I don't see happening unless Willie Atwood comes to Iowa and somehow finds himself in the starting lineup. I doubt it, though. But regardless of the scenario that plays out, I suspect Oglesby is going to get about 20 minutes per game once again next season.
But that's next season, and this post is supposed to really highlight the year he had this season. Josh Oglesby was able to put his sophomore year behind him and start fresh. He went from barely being a blip on the radar of some Hawkeye fans, to being a possible starter for next year. It was a great subplot to this year's somewhat disappointing script, as Oglesby went from having one of the most head-scratchingly bad seasons that many of us have ever witnessed to looking like a legitimate three point threat. And that's pretty damn neat.
Next Up: Gabe Olaseni