By now we can all say one thing for certain: This Iowa team is an NCAA Tournament team. The question becomes, do they have what it takes to make a run in March? The answer may rest in the hands of an un-likely party.
Junior shooting guard, Josh Oglesby, had a 2012-2013 campaign marked with flat-out disappointment. Inconsistency would not be an accurate term. Oglesby was rather consistent in his inability to make shots. The so-called sharp shooter, brought in for one reason, to knock down shots, shot a pedestrian 26.9 percent from 3-point-range.
3-point-shooting, as a team, was a glaring weakness for the Hawkeyes last season. It was a major reason why they were on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday. Their 3-point-percentage was a dismal 30.5 percent, good for 305th out of 345 division 1 teams.
Through 18 games, the Hawkeyes have a record of 15-3 (4-1) having lost three games to teams who have been ranked in the top 10 in the country at some point this season. Many would tell you that the Hawkeyes should have won all three of those games. Heading into week 12 of the season, Iowa is ranked 9th in the country by the AP poll.
The biggest reason for this years’ success has to do with their vast improvement in 3-point shooting from a season ago. Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White, and Mike Gesell have all improved their shooting statistics from a year ago and the addition of the silky smooth Jarrod Uthoff has also given the Hawkeyes a major weapon off the bench. All of these pieces have been huge for the Hawkeyes, however, the piece that could potentially make them an elite-8 or Final Four contender is Josh Oglesby.
Oglesby, who had major confidence issues last season, and missed the first twelve games of this season with a broken foot, has burst onto the scene shooting 60 percent from beyond the arch in his first five games back. This includes Oglesby’s best game as a Hawkeye on Sunday where he made five of seven shots from three point range on his way to a season-high 17 points.
Iowa fans watched on Sunday as their team ran away with a 21-point victory over Minnesota while outscoring the Gophers by 23 in the second half. They watched as Josh Oglesby was absolutely unconscious from 3-point-range. Many of them wondered what the emergence of Oglesby would mean to this team.
The answer is quite simple. Oglesby’s emergence could make this Iowa team special. The Hawkeyes can beat you in so many ways. They are very deep and one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. They have three guys who can play the point guard position well in Marble, Gesell, and Anthony Clemons. They have three superstar wing players in Marble, Uthoff and Aaron White. They have athleticism in the front court in Gabe Olaseni and Melsahn Basabe. The one thing that was missing was a sharp-shooter. Even with Iowa’s improved shot-making from last season, they are still rather streaky in that department. Adding a consistent sharp shooter in Josh Oglesby to an uberly-talented ten man rotation would make for a special basketball season in Iowa City; a season that could be capped off with two, three, maybe even four wins in the NCAA tournament. A far cry from what Fran McCafery inherited just four short seasons ago.
Strap on your seat-belts Iowa City, it could be a rather fun ride.