IOWA CITY — Josh Oglesby has earned his coach’s superlatives because of his superb outside shooting ability.
Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery praised Oglesby in the past, saying “I have seen very few shooters that shoot the ball like he does in 29 years.” But like a pendulum, McCaffery also isn’t afraid to swing his words in the other direction, either.
Oglesby, an Iowa sophomore shooting guard, sometimes hesitates and passes up open shots. At times last year that led McCaffery to punching his hand on the sideline and then ripping into Oglesby when he came to the bench. That sometimes happens in practice, too.
“Two weeks ago now we ripped his face off because he kept turning shots down,” McCaffery said. “We were tired of looking at it. He’s a funny kid. You have to love him. He gets this funny look on his face, then made the next eight in a row.
“I said, “Josh, I love you, but do I have to yell at you to make eight 3s in a row?” He said, “No, coach.” I said, “just keep firing.”
Oglesby, a former all-stater at Cedar Rapids Washington, struggles between finding open looks for teammates and taking the shots himself. He’s unselfish, yet conflicted.
“It’s bad and good,” Oglesby said. “Bad because I feel like sometimes when I’m open I should shoot it. But if there’s another guy open, I feel like I shouldn’t pass to that other guy. I’m going to get chewed out if I don’t shoot it. But good because he has confidence in me. I got recruited to be a shooter and coming in here and knowing that the head coach has confidence in me and getting mad if I don’t shoot, that just builds my confidence.”
Oglesby earned McCaffery’s trust with some top-shelf performances last year as a freshman. Six times he scored in double digits. At Indiana, Oglesby sank 6-of-8 3-point attempts for a career-high 24 points. Against Michigan State in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal, Oglesby drilled 7-of-9 shots, including five 3-pointers.
Oglesby, 20, started five games last year and averaged 6.4 points. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range and was second on the team total 3-pointers (45).
Regardless of the situation or previous performance, McCaffery wants Oglesby to keep shooting. It doesn’t matter if there’s 33, 18 or 2 seconds left on the shot clock.
“We have just consistently wrestled with him to just sort of play with a little more reckless abandon and start firing,” McCaffery said. “But he’s never going to be that guy that just starts jacking. I respect that about him. But very few players at this level have the ability to make seven or eight 3s in a row in any kind of environment, and he has that. He’s got a gift there. We got to get it out of him.”