Iowa basketball: How Oglesby’s return affects the Hawks

For a basketball team ten players is a large but manageable number.

It provides a coach with two full squads to practice and scrimmage with. If a team is fortunate enough to have ten talented and capable players to put on the floor in game situations it can make for a starting and bench unit that creates fits and exhaustion for opponents.

Ten is difficult, but doable. Now 11? Well that creates a whole different scenario entirely.

With the return of 6-5 junior guard Josh Oglesby to the Iowa basketball team yesterday, coach Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes now find themselves faced with the challenge of finding playing time for just short of a dozen worthy players.

After missing roughly six weeks to start the 2013-14 season recovering from a broken bone in his foot suffered in preseason practice, Oglesby is looking to jump back into a team and rotation that has in a sense moved on without him.

The Iowa team has gotten off to for the most part a flying start. Ranked no. 22 in the latest AP poll, the 11-2 Hawkeyes have rolled through the majority of their opponents. The only losses have come by a combined 8 points at road/neutral sites after giving up late leads to two undefeated teams currently ranked inside the top 14 (Iowa State and Villanova).

The ten different players who have seen consistent minutes seem to have developed a strong chemistry, and it shows in their unselfish and efficient play out on the court. The addition of Oglesby figures to alter this cohesion in some fashion, though only time will tell if it’s positively or negatively.

Last night’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff was Oglesby’s first game this season, and though he played well, the level of competition doesn’t serve as a great barometer for upcoming Big Ten play. The junior actually played the second most minutes of any Hawkeye, finishing with 13 points on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc.

The pressure will be on Oglesby to quickly regain the 3pt touch that made him a valuable player as a freshman. (Photo Credit: David Scrivner/Press-Citizen photo)

The pressure will be on Oglesby to quickly regain the 3pt touch that made him a valuable player as a freshman. (Photo Credit: David Scrivner/Press-Citizen photo)

If Oglesby can continue to have similar types of efficient shooting outings then of course he would provide a valuable asset to the Iowa team. The only problem is, his first two seasons as a Hawkeye provide inconclusive proof as to whether or not he can be the knock-down shooter many have billed him as.

As a freshman Oglesby saw action in all 35 Hawkeye games, starting five. While still growing accustomed to the collegiate game he shot an above-average 37.2 percent from 3-point range. Heading into his sophomore season fans expected him to make the jump from a good shooter to one of the best in the Big Ten.

Unfortunately, such a jump never happened and a fan base was left wondering what had happened to the stroke of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native. In slightly fewer minutes than his freshman year Oglesby attempted 35 more 3′s, yet his percentage plummeted all the way to 26.9 percent. Such a clip would be acceptable at least for a post player or a guard who excels at getting to the rim, but not for someone whose primary duty is to knock down shots from deep.

If Oglesby really has turned the corner he will likely absorb minutes from freshman Peter Jok, who is currently averaging 7.3ppg. However, if he begins to show any signs of the inconsistency that plagued him last season Fran McCaffery has other options that he can turn to.

As a team the Hawkeyes have made a huge leap from last season’s dismal 3-point shooting effort, raising their overall percentage from 30.5 to an impressive 37.6 percent. Oglesby remained on the floor despite his struggles in 2012-13 in large part because the coaching staff hoped he would finally regain his form in time to aid a poor shooting Iowa team. The leash would seem to be far shorter now than in the past, so Oglesby would be wise to continue having nights like his 4-5 season opening performance if he wishes to stay on the floor.