NORTH LIBERTY — It was just one game in a summer league, but Josh Oglesby found something in Thursday’s Prime Time League playoff victory that was missing for most of last season as a member of the Iowa basketball team — his shooting touch.
The 6-foot-4 junior-to-be from Cedar Rapids made 6-of-13 3-point baskets and scored 24 points to help his team to a 109-95 semifinal victory before a capacity crowd at the North Liberty Community Center.
Oglesby has tried to expand his game this summer in order to be more than just a potential 3-point weapon for the Hawkeyes. But he also understands what his primary role is for an Iowa team that needs to improve on its 41.9 shooting percentage from last season.
“I think the thing for me is just improving on my whole game,” Oglesby said. “But the biggest thing for me is just knocking down shots. So I’m really trying to work on my shot and getting it off quicker.
“But I’m also trying to work on going off the dribble and shooting a one- or two-dribble pull-up. And, obviously, in the weight room we’re getting a lot stronger and that’s helping my defense.”
Oglesby is coming off a sophomore season in which he shot just 26.9 percent from 3-point range and 27.4 percent overall. That was a substantial decline from his freshman campaign when Oglesby shot 37.2 from 3-point range.
Oglesby thinks he knows what caused his shot to go awry last winter.
“Especially last year, I wasn’t ready to come off the screens and shoot because I wasn’t ready to shoot,” Oglesby said. “I think a big thing this year is trying to get to the hole a little bit more and trying to get a mid-range jumper and get to the free throw line and try to get into the flow of the game besides shooting up a three right away, (because) if I miss that, my confidence kind of goes down.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery never lost faith in Oglesby last season, and nothing has changed during the offseason.
“That gives me all the confidence in the world, especially going into this season,” Oglesby said. “He’s still telling me to just keep shooting. And in workouts, he’s positive and he has been this whole year.
“I think that’s what you need in a coach, especially for myself and the slump I had last year. For him to still believe in me and to tell me to keep shooting; the way he is talking to me means a lot.”
Oglesby has a tendency to struggle when he misses his first one or two shots from 3-point range, but he was able to avoid that problem Thursday. He made his first two attempts from 3-point range and scored 15 points in the first half.
“As a shooter, if you make your first or second or something like that, you can get into a rhythm, and early on I got into the rhythm of the game,” Oglesby said.
Fellow Iowa guard Devyn Marble also got into a rhythm for Oglesby’s team and flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Marble and Oglesby both missed a few PTL games during the regular season, but now their team — Greater Iowa Financial Group/Vinton Merchants — is just one victory from winning the title.
They’ll face a BlendCard team led by Iowa point guard Anthony Clemmons in Sunday’s championship game.
“It’s always nice to give our teammates some crap,” Oglesby said. “But I think a big step for this team is we were the fifth seed and Devyn wasn’t there a couple times and I missed the first couple games. And now we’re kind of starting to jell. I think we’re playing well.”
Oglesby missed his first two PTL games because of an injured finger on his shooting hand. He said the injury still bothers him at times.
“It’s getting better day by day,” Oglesby said. “I can still feel it. The biggest thing is trying to catch the ball. It still kind of hurts a little bit when someone throws the ball to me.”
Oglesby will have plenty of competition for playing time next season with Iowa’s rotation expected to have as many as 10 or 11 players. The addition of 6-6 incoming shooting guard Peter Jok also could cut into Oglesby’s playing time next season.
But that hasn’t stopped Oglesby from helping Jok make the adjustment to college. Oglesby is trying to help Jok the same way former Iowa guard Matt Gatens helped Oglesby as a freshman during the 2011-12 season.
“I was a freshman at one point and I had Matt (Gatens) to look up to and he helped me a lot,” Oglesby said. “So I’m trying to help Pete like Matt did for me.”
Marble is eager to play with Oglesby and Jok next season because defenses will have to be aware of all three on the perimeter.
“That will help a lot with them two on the wing and me being able to penetrate,” said Marble, who plays both point guard and shooting guard. “Their guy won’t be able to help on me once I beat my man.
“I think this is a very multi-dimensional team now that we’ve got shooters surrounding our penetraters.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball