The last few years have seen frustratingly up and down play from Iowa's backcourt. There is no better example of this than in the comparison of Josh Oglesby's freshman and sophomore seasons.
In 2011-2012, Oglesby averaged 18.7 minutes and 6.4 points per game, while shooting 37.2% from 3-point range. He was at times very effective for a freshman, having a significant impact on some games, such as scoring 24 points on 6-8 3-point shooting in a loss to Indiana on January 29, 2012, or his 36 minute and 11 point performance in Iowa's 78-66 win over Indiana a few weeks later.
Oglesby relegated to near complete ineffectiveness last season, as his numbers dropped to 4.5 points on 16.2 minutes per game, while shooting 27.4% from the floor, including a 26.9% 3-point conversion rate. His play at times befuddled Iowa fans, such as in his performance during a 74-70 double-overtime loss at Wisconsin on Febrary 6, in which he made only 3 of 11 attempted 3-pointers, with no 2-point or free-throw attempts.
This year, Iowa fans were optimistic that Oglesby would grow upon his one time success. He worked with a sports psychologist to battle his mental shooting woes, and coach Fran McCaffery was excited to see Oglesby's progression, encouraging him to take more shots. McCaffery believed that "you're going to see a completely different Josh Oglesby".
Iowa needed Oglesby to make a significant impact from behind the line this season. They are a team that has a skilled backcourt, but were also the worst 3-point shooting team in the conference last season. A sharpshooting guard who can play significant minutes (think Ben Brust) is exactly what this team needs. Roy Devyn Marble is one of the best point guards in the Big Ten, and Iowa has a deep and talented group of forwards, all of which would be significantly aided by the constant threat of a shooting guard behind the line. It seems that Iowa's ability to consistently hit 3-pointers will determine if they are merely a good, or a great offense.
Unfortunately, we won't see any form of Oglesby for about six weeks, with the Hawkeyes hoping to have him back for the start of Big Ten play. Iowa will face some real tests from their non-conference schedule, including their participation in the Battle 4 Atlantis (where they initially face Xavier) and the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (where they face Notre Dame). Also, their Big Ten schedule will test them early on, with games at Wisconsin and at Ohio State within the first two weeks of January.
Oglesby's injury fills the Iowa backcourt with question marks, a group that once seemed deep with significant potential. Marble is the definite leader of the team, aided by sophomore Mike Gesell, coming off of a breakout freshman campaign. However, each of these guards struggled with their shooting throughout last year, shooting 41 and 40 percent from the floor, respectively. Anthony Clemmons can fill the point guard role, but hasn't showed much signs of being a scorer.
One development that would help this group tremendously is if Peter Jok is able to make a significant impact, especially from behind the line, as a freshman. Jok (6' 6" 200 lbs.), originally from Sudan, was last year's Mr. Basketball in Iowa, scoring 23.6 points per game on 42% 3-point shooting. He labels himself as a shooter, and he certainly will have an opportunity to become a real factor for this team, especially during Oglesby's absence.
Best Case Scenario
Iowa's team deficiency behind the 3-point line is eliminated, and they cruise through their non-conference schedule with only one or two losses, behind the leadership of Roy Devyn Marble and the emergence of freshman Peter Jok. Oglesby comes back from his injury at the outset of Big Ten play, rejuvenated as a clutch shooter and averages nearly 40% from behind the line, turning Iowa's offense into one of the most dangerous in the Big Ten, and they finish in the top four in the conference.
Worst Case Scenario
The Hawkeyes' shooting woes continue, and they're forced into a one-dimensional offense with no real outside threat. Oglesby's injury and mental blocks plague him throughout the season, as he is never able to contribute offensively. At times he is far too hesitant, passing up open looks, and other times he throws up ten 3's in one game without making any more than three. The Hawkeyes are constantly outmatched by this year's skilled Big Ten guard play, and Iowa continues as a mere afterthought in the conference.