In every sport and on every roster there are certainties and unknowns that coaches must deal with. Certainties in particular can be both good and bad, depending on the situation at hand.
For the Iowa basketball team one of the relative certainties for coach Fran McCaffery comes in the form of senior-to-be Josh Oglesby.
The 6-5 Cedar Rapids native is the type of player that’s going to give you pretty much exactly what you’d expect on any given night, that being three point shooting and intelligent positional defense. If you’re wanting something more, Oglesby probably isn’t the place to look, but he’s also not going to try and be something he’s not, which is often be just as valuable.
Since he arrived on campus in Iowa City three years ago from Washington High School Oglesby has certainly gone through his own personal ups and downs.
As a freshman he received a steady dose of minutes for the Hawkeyes (probably more than he was ready for at that time) because the team was devoid of perimeter shooting options, and did a very solid job knocking down over 37% of his 3 point attempts. In what should be considered a success for any first year collegiate player, Oglesby was effective enough to warrant consistent monitoring from opponents while he was on the floor.
With his reputation as a shooter somewhat established, Oglesby entered his second season as a Hawkeye with increased attention from both Iowa fans and opposing defenses. Unfortunately, as most fans remember, he failed to live up to any and all expectations in a horrifically spectacular manner (that will make sense in a second).
For some reason all semblance of a productive jump shot completely abandoned Oglesby during the 2012-13 season. An even bigger problem was that Iowa still lacked multiple outside shooting threats, so despite his abysmal field goal and 3 point percentages (27% apiece) he had to keep on letting it fly from distance. In fact, Oglesby took 35 more 3’s compared to his freshman year, but made three less of them. This isn’t good.
As difficult as it was to watch night after night, I could only imagine the pressure Oglesby must have felt to simply make a shot, something that he’d been proficient at for his entire basketball career. Heading into his junior year fans (myself included) were teetering on the edge of giving up on Oglesby and his worth to the team for good. Only consistent in-game production would suffice for some of that faith to return in the former sharpshooter.
However, the road to redemption for Oglesby hit another speed bump when he broke a bone in his foot just prior to the start of the season, and he was left to watch his Hawkeye teammates run out to a top 20 ranking without him.
His return to the court came in Iowa’s final non-conference contest at home against Arkansas Pine Bluff. To the excitement of everyone around the program, Oglesby knocked down 4-5 shots from downtown in what would thankfully set the stage for the rest of his junior season.
Although the addition of Oglesby to the Hawkeye lineup didn’t exactly coincide with an abundance of wins down the homestretch of 2013-14, his reemergence as a reliable outside threat (40.3%) was an extremely positive sight to see. At times, such as during a home game against Wisconsin, he even carried the team for stretches offensively.
Last season was about lifting an enormous mental burden and rediscovering the confidence that makes Oglesby an effective player for the Hawkeyes. 2014-15 will be about whether or not he can grab an even bigger role, and if he can possibly make the jump from a very good outside shooter to a sniper that needs to be blanketed by opponents the second he steps off of the bus at the arena.
At this point I think Oglesby will in fact earn a starting spot in the Iowa back court next season, a role that will be up for grabs between himself and sophomores Peter Jok and Trey Dickerson. I also expect him to improve, if only slightly, upon his shooting percentages from a year ago.
What any of this means for the team is up for debate, but as I mentioned earlier don’t expect some monumental increase in production from Oglesby. He’s not some dynamic two-way wing, but for around 20 minutes a night he can give this team value with his primary area of expertise.
Oglesby is what he is, and that’s not really such a bad thing at all.