Mar 10, 2022; Kansas City, MO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach TJ Otzelberger yells from the sideline in the first half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — T.J. Otzelberger passionately defended his players following Thursday night’s ugly 72-41 loss to Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals.
The Cyclones’ first-year head coach is keeping things in perspective.
“I’m actually really proud of the team right now,” Otzelberger said. “Last year this same time our team had two wins. This year we have 20. I think if memory serves me correctly that’s probably the biggest turnaround in college basketball, so our guys have a lot to be proud of. They have had a very good season based on our strengths. There is no concern.”
Otzelberger is absolutely right, regardless of what the vocal, negative faction of the fanbase will tell you.
There isn’t a person on the planet who expected Iowa State to be in a position to not only be in the NCAA Tournament field on Selection Sunday but be in the field comfortably prior to the season.
The Cyclones are going to be dancing after losing all 19 games they played against Big 12 teams last season. Has a major conference team ever gone from going 0-for in league play to the NCAA Tournament in a single year?
“There is a sense of pride in what we’re building, what we have done, how these guys have embraced habits,” Otzelberger said. “So anybody that would look at it as a concern would have a warped view on what these guys have accomplished this year.”
Fans have every right to be disappointed by Iowa State’s performance against Tech on Thursday night. Otzelberger and his players were vocally upset too.
But Iowa State men’s basketball is relevant again — and that fact alone is remarkable when you consider just how far down this program was at this time a year ago.
“I think everything that they have done is restore pride to Iowa State,” Otzelberger said. “They have showed work ethic, they have showed habits, character and based on where we were one year ago, these guys deserve a lot of credit.”