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Could play on European tour determine rotation?

[ 0 ] August 9, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. Josh Oglesby knows his shooting touch is a subject of conversation for all the wrong reasons.

“People talk,” Iowa’s shooting guard said. “I obviously didn’t have the greatest year last year. So hopefully I have a good year this year, and people don’t say that about me anymore.”

The Hawkeyes depart Sunday for a six-game tour of England and France. For Oglesby, who shot just 26.9 percent from 3-point distance last season, it’s a chance to rediscover his touch in competition.

And it’s a chance for everyone on the team to position themselves for a spot in Coach Fran McCaffery’s deep rotation. That rotation could be 11 strong.

“I think we can go 11,” McCaffery said Friday. “Because I think what we’re going to do is ratchet up the defense. We’re going to run at the other end. No one complains about coming out when they’re exhausted.”

That rotation will be shorter than normal. Sophomore guard Mike Gesell broke his hand during the Prime Time League this summer. He had it X-rayed again this week and doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to play on the tour. He will make the trip.

“They said we should just wait,” Gesell said. “If it was the Big Ten they’d make a cover for it. But there’s no point in that now.”

For the rest of the players, this trip presents an opportunity to establish their position in the rotation.

“It’s just going to make our team even better, competing with each other and trying to get the best out of each other,” Anthony Clemmons said. “That’s what great teams do. We’re deep. Everyone is fighting for minutes, and nobody is safe at a spot.”

For some, the trip is a chance to fill a new role. Senior Zach McCabe has lost 15 pounds and will no longer be asked to be an undersized post defender. He’ll see time at the small forward spot vacated by Eric May, the team’s lone senior on a 25-13 team. McCaffery said Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White will also see minutes at small forward.

“I don’t think guys are taking this trip lightly, as a vacation,” McCabe said. “Guys want minutes. Guys want to play. Every practice for us is a chance for us to get ahead of a couple of other guys.”

McCaffery used a 10-man rotation last season. Add another to the rotation, and May’s departed 21.8 minutes a game will be gobbled up pretty fast.

McCaffery is confident that Oglesby can turn things around, starting with this tour. Iowa’s first game is Tuesday. The last game is August 20th.

“He’s only had one bad day shooting the ball,” McCaffery said. “He’s been on fire. His percentages are way up. Over 40 percent. I think he really feels good about himself. He’s struggled in games at times. But he’s also had some great games for us. He didn’t struggle as a freshman. I fully expect him to be fine next year, and be around 40 percent.”

Oglesby has taken McCaffery’s advice and worked to get his shot off faster. Matt Gatens did the same thing and had the best season of his career as a senior in 2011-12.

“I’ve been shooting it better and getting my shot off quicker,” Oglesby said. “Hopefully practice rolls over to games.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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