IOWA CITY — Josh Oglesby’s new approach to shooting, at least the mental side of it, is to think of it as a flip of a coin.
“It’s going to be heads or tails and you have a 50-50 shot for the next one to go in,” said Oglesby, a junior guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Oglesby decided to see a sports psychologist this summer after shooting a dismal 27 percent (42 of 156) from the 3-point arc last season. He wanted to clear the decks and come into the 2013-14 season with strategies to overcome getting down on himself, something he said he did all too easily last season after missing shots early in games.
“I think the biggest thing is just forgetting about last year and coming in fresh, and carrying over from practice to games,” the Cedar Rapids Washington grad said, “because I’m shooting so well in practice right now.”
Yes, you’ve heard that before. It became a bit of a mantra for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery last season when Oglesby started slowly with from the arc and never really hit his stride.
McCaffery isn’t backtracking on Oglesby. If anything, he’s doubling down.
“I just consistently encourage my guys to shoot the ball,” McCaffery said during the team’s media day Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, “and I think in particular sometimes you have a player that needs to work on his release, can you make that quicker?
“We did that with [former Hawkeye] Matt Gatens in particular. His first year with us he was passing up what I thought were good shots and he was shooting the ball right in defenders’ faces the following year because he really worked on coming off screens and shooting the ball quicker, and we’ve done that with Josh. I think you’re going to see a completely different Josh Oglesby.”
Iowa recruited a pretty different Josh Oglesby when it brought in Peter Jok, a 6-6, 200-pound guard from West Des Moines Valley. Last season, Jok made 42 percent from 3-point range.
He is an enormously confident shooter.
“My confidence is up there,” Jok said. “My teammates want me to shoot open shots. They told me I’m one of the best shooters they’ve ever seen. They told me every time I’m open, shoot it.”
Yes, that’s where McCaffery is with Jok. Shoot it. The big “wait and see” is Jok’s defense.
“So, what we have to do is make sure he understands that not only are we going to go to him and we’re going to set him up, we’re going to put him in a position where he can be successful for us, but he’s got to play the other end, because in our league, he’s either going to be playing the 2 or the 3, and pretty much everybody at those positions in our league thinks they’re going to play in the NBA,” McCaffery said. “You have to be able to understand how to play defense with the same level of intensity that you play offense, and then sustain that effort over long periods of time.
“If he does that, now you’re talking about a guy who has a chance to play in the NBA.”
“He’s accepted coaching,” McCaffery said. “He’s studied film, and he’s a completely different player than he was five weeks ago, eight weeks ago, because he has character, and he knows he has a chance to be special.
“While we’re coaching him and criticizing him sometimes, at some point in time, I don’t ever stop making sure he knows and understands that we think he’s got a chance to be really special.”
Junior forward Aaron White has seen Jok in practice. He was asked Wednesday if Jok is all that. White said kind of.
“I’m not going to sit here and say he’s the best shooter in the country or this and that,” White said, “but he is definitely very skilled offensively. It’s all about putting it all together. A lot of guys can stand there and shoot, but can you shoot when the lights are on, when you have a guy closing down on you?
“I can’t say he’s going to be as good of a shooter as people are saying, because he’s probably not. People are probably saying he’s going to be the next Ray Allen. That’s unrealistic. I think he has the confidence and skill to be a great shooter at the college level.”
The mystery defense Iowa might get out of Jok isn’t so much a mystery with Oglesby. The 6-5, 208-pounder stayed on the floor because he could defend and he didn’t turnover the ball (just 19 turnovers last season).
“Often I was criticized last year, why did you keep him in when he wasn’t making shots?” McCaffery asked. “I kept him in because he doesn’t turn the ball over and he guards. He plays defense. He works extremely hard defensively, he’s incredibly tough, and he’ll have to step in and fulfill some of that role, as well.”
Oglesby has walked with teammates around Kinnick Stadium during football games this fall. He hears you. He wants it worse than you can imagine. Shooting is literally on his mind.
“Everyone is like, ‘Shoot better than last year,’” Oglesby said. “It’s kind of, ‘Yeah, hopefully.’ I don’t want to shoot 27 percent from 3 again. I look at it as motivation, try to prove people wrong.”