STANZ: Otz evaluates next steps for Iowa State hoops

Mar 25, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach T.J. Otzelberger yells during the second half against the Miami Hurricanes in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the men’s college basketball NCAA Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Greensboro, N.C. — T.J. Otzelberger is already thinking about what comes next.

Iowa State’s head coach met with reporters Saturday morning to look toward the future of the Cyclones’ men’s basketball program after Friday night’s 59-41 loss to Pittsburgh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

There is no resting on laurels. The preparation for next year’s team is already starting.

“We’re really proud of what our guys accomplished this year,” Otzelberger said. “As disappointing as it was how it ended. It was a lot of great memories and moments when you look at nine top 25 wins, six top 10 wins and the way our guys rallied late in the season. It says a lot about their character. I think the foundation for our program moving forward is in place. We’re going to continue to be very selective of who we bring in and make sure that the character and everybody are in alignment. We feel really good about where we’re at and how things work where they stand moving forward.”

Iowa State already knows it will lose four seniors in Gabe Kalscheur, Aljaz Kunc, Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi. Tre King and Robert Jones have the opportunity to and are both currently expected to return to the program next year.

They’ll join Tamin Lipsey, Demarion Watson and a top-10 recruiting class to form the foundation of next year’s roster.

Attrition, as always in today’s age of college basketball, can probably be expected on some level, as well.

“We’re one scholarship under, so this week, and then the next week, it’s time to meet with all the young men in our program and just talk to them about the vision and the future. You see where things are at that point,” Otzelberger said. “We anticipate there’s probably going to be room for a transfer or two, but, at this point, I don’t exactly know how that all shakes out until you have those meetings.”

Fans can expect to see shooting be a significant emphasis with anyone Iowa State pursues out of the transfer portal this offseason. Further help in the frontcourt would be welcomed as well.

Those things will be sorted out in the coming weeks, though.

In the meantime, Otzelberger will meet with the remaining members of this year’s team, and start a comprehensive review of the program’s direction in order to chart the path forward.

“I think more than anything, you look at every aspect of the program, you really evaluate what are some things that feel like we’re doing well, where some areas we can improve,” Otzelberger said. “You look at scheme. You look at personnel. All those things are factors. We’ll continue to evaluate those accordingly. To me, the most important thing is the people that are in your program, right? Even more than, ‘Hey, this guy is a great shooter. This guy’s a point guard,’ it comes down to, are they great human beings? Are they great people? Do they love being a Cyclone? That’s where we’ll start.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.