NOTEBOOK: Hoiberg got his guy in T.J. Otzelberger

Random news and notes from a teleconference that went down today featuring Fred Hoiberg and the man who will replace Matt Abdelmassih as assistant coach, T.J. Otzelberger. 

Name pulled from head coaching vacancies

 Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Otzelberger’s name had been mentioned with head coaching vacancies at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Northern Kentucky. He reportedly had upcoming interviews at both schools this weekend at the Final Four. Otzelberger said that he will no longer pursue those options. 

“I have removed my name from consideration from some other opportunities,” Otzelberger said. “I feel like we are fired up to be at Iowa State, are locked into it and feel like this opportunity is better than those and fits us more.”

Otzelberger left Iowa State two years ago to gain experience to hopefully some day become a head coach. So why come back? With the possible opportunities ahead, why now? 

“I feel like sometimes when those opportunities come up, it is flattering for people to talk to you about those things,” Otzelberger said. “Ultimately if the opportunity to become a head coach presents itself, I want it to be the right opportunity at the right place at the right time. So for me at this point, I feel like our desire to be at Iowa State and to try and build up successes that some I have been a part of and others that have transpired over the two years where I wasn’t here and try to build on those and continue that path.”

When will he start at Iowa State?

“We are full steam ahead right now for Iowa State,” Otzelberger said. “It’s one of those things where in the coming weeks I want to do the best job possible of tying things up at Washington and then we are moving forward full steam ahead.”

Maintaining relationships, recruiting

Otzelberger has been at Washington for the last two years but he is still very much aware with the landscape of Hoiberg’s program. This will be important on the recruiting trail, where it is notable that Iowa State has three scholarships open heading into the 2015-16 season.

“I look forward to visiting with Coach Hoiberg, Coach Henry and Coach Mann to talk about what specific needs need to be addressed,” Otzelberger said. “Even though I was in Seattle the last two years, I feel like I did a good job myself of being aware of players and possibilities.”

Otzelberger noted that because of Iowa State’s success on a national level the last two years since he’s been gone, his job of recruiting top players to Ames should be easier this time around.

“We have a lot of confidence that we can not only recruit nationally but around the globe as well," Otzelberger said. "I don’t think we will limit ourselves when it comes to finding the right talent and good players. I think Coach Hoiberg has proven over time that based on players strengths and where they are from, he will get them to play to the best to their ability and I assume it will be that way going forward as well.” 

Hoiberg said that he hopes to add immediately eligible prospects to beef up his roster for next season. 

“We obviously have some things were we feel like we are in a pretty good spot with some kids who will be immediately eligible to play next year — some junior college kids — and we will continue to pursue transfers that become available as well,” Hoiberg said. “We will see what happens.”

Otz was Hoiberg’s first and only call

When Abdelmassih told Hoiberg about the St. John’s possibility, it didn’t take the Mayor long to zero in on his guy. Staff continuity had a lot to do with it. 

“For us, it is a great hire,” Hoiberg said. “T.J. has a lot of great relationships in the Midwest. He worked with Cornell (Mann).  He worked with Charlie (Henry). Bringing back somebody familiar who understands how we do things and T.J. as a big part of getting a lot of players from the high school level and also the transfer route as well.”

Of course, Hoiberg noted Otzelberger’s proven track record on the recruiting trail too.

“He recruits all over the map and not only local kids but he has been really good in Canada in helping get some top level players,” Hoiberg said. “He was the first call that we made to gauge interest and he had a lot. We started talking and tried to get it finalized as soon as possible so we could get started recruiting and getting those scholarships filled.”