Josh Oglesby's refusal to take shots confounds McCaffery

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The mystery of Josh Oglesby continues, and even Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery is stumped.

His senior shooting guard won't shoot.

"You know what, I don't know what to tell you on that," McCaffery said. "All I can tell you is I keep telling him to shoot the ball."

McCaffery isn't the only one urging Oglesby to shoot. So are his teammates. So were 13,000-plus at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during Thursday night's jarring 64-59 loss to Minnesota.

When Oglesby got the ball with any space, the pleas were loud and clear. But, he moved the basketball along every time.

Oglesby, a 6-foot-5 Cedar Rapids native who has made 136 3-pointers in his Iowa career, took zero shots in 11 minutes Thursday.

These numbers are startling: In Oglesby's last three games, he has played 46 minutes and is 0-for-2 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, four turnovers and one steal.

"I'm dying for him," McCaffery said. "I want him to shoot it. I want him to drive it.

"Just trust your talent and be a player. That's all I ever tell him. He shoots it well in practice, plays well in practice. Gets in the game, he won't shoot the ball."

The analytics are working against Oglesby, who is shooting just 26.9 percent this season. His offensive rating (effectiveness) according to stats guru Ken Pomeroy is the lowest among the Hawkeyes' eight most-used players and ranks 75th out of 88 in the Big Ten Conference.

Oglesby's game action has diminished, too, as 6-6 shooting guard Peter Jok has emerged. After steadily seeing minute totals in the low- to mid-20s, Oglesby received 12 minutes at Michigan, did not play (illness) vs. Maryland and 11 Thursday.

"I told him in the locker room, just stay positive," fellow Hawkeye senior Aaron White said. "Shoot the ball when you're open, move it on when you're not. We only got a couple of games left in our career here to put on the jersey, so let that thing fire.

"I don't know what the hesitance for is, not just him but for a couple of other guys."

As a team, Iowa was apprehensive to shooting outside shots against the Gophers. And it's something that McCaffery addressed with each player individually — Jarrod Uthoff and Jok, in particular. A huge factor in Iowa's worst Big Ten loss of the season Thursday was a scoring drought of 8 minutes, 7 seconds.

"The guys that are the better shooters have to recognize that," McCaffery said, "and go get buckets when we're struggling."

There are only seven regular season games left for Oglesby. He hasn't scored in double figures in 23 games and has a total of 77 points after averaging 175.3 in his first three seasons.

Of course, to score — he's got to shoot first.

"I can tell you I consistently told him I want him to shoot the ball," McCaffery said. "I pointed that out very directly after the game."