Oglesby finds his stroke just in time for Iowa men's basketball

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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Josh Oglesby rose up from the left wing with four minutes remaining in the game and the Hawkeyes clinging to a 2-point lead over Illinois. He lofted a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of a pair of defenders and watched it fly toward the hoop.

Oglesby had hit just one shot all night. He missed five others — all 3-pointers — including several wide-open looks.

But on arguably the biggest shot of the night, he found nothing but net.

“I was just thinking, ‘Hopefully, that goes in,’ ” Oglesby said. “But all my shots tonight felt good.”

He followed that up moments later with another trey from almost the same spot — this time, wide open — and buried it again, bringing the Carver-Hawkeye crowd to its feet in riotous applause. The shot gave the Hawkeyes a 54-46 lead with 3:10 left to play.

The Hawkeyes didn’t hesitate to keep hunting for shots for Oglesby, and junior Devyn Marble smiled as he reminded reporters of a promise he made last week.

“I told you I was going to keep giving him the ball; it’s up to him to make the shots,” Marble said. “I’ve got faith in him, the team’s got faith in him. We know he’s going to knock shots down. We’re just trying to let him go about [getting out of his slump] his own way.”

Oglesby has been a lightning rod for criticism for much of this season. He entered the year expected to be the team’s go-to sniper, but the Cedar Rapids native was shooting just 26 percent from behind the arc.

But, much like Marble, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery never wavered in his support for Oglesby. The two shared an emotional hug after the game, and the team mobbed him following his second 3-pointer.

“Every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in. I think he does, too,” McCaffery said. “I asked him at halftime, I said, ‘How did they feel?’ He said they felt good, so I said, ‘Just keep shooting, and we’ll keep coming to you.’”

After Oglesby’s back-to-back 3-pointers, Marble hit the dagger to seal the win with a drive to the rim, making the basket and drawing a foul. That wasn’t how the play was drawn up, but Oglesby had a hand in it, nonetheless.

“We were running that play for Josh, and Brandon Paul tried to reach in on me,” Marble said. “I was able to get past him, and once I saw that, I knew I had a clear path to the basket.

“The big men were so deep into the paint, worried about Josh coming off screens, I knew they wouldn’t be able to take a charge.”

Oglesby couldn’t deny the extended slump he has suffered this year, and he said it can be difficult at times to remain confident in his shot. But he focuses on having a short memory.

“It’s hard, especially during the game,” he said. “It’s in the back of your head when you miss a couple shots. But I’ve really tried to forget about that this year, with the struggles I’ve had. Just to refresh my brain and believe that the next one’s going in.”

Sophomore Gabe Olaseni threw his arms around Oglesby after the teams shook hands and had a few words for his teammate.

“I said, ‘It’s about time,’” Olaseni said with a grin. “He works so hard, and he gets on himself a lot more than [other] people get on him. Obviously, when you’re struggling, you feel like nothing’s going to work.

“So when those two [3-pointers] went in, I felt really good for him.”

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