- Position: Associate Head Coach
- Alma Mater: Wisconsin-Whitewater, 2001
- Graduating Year: 2001
- Experience: 8 Years
- Phone: (515) 294-4818
The Pursuit of Passion
T.J. Otzelberger's love of basketball ignited as a youngster growing up in a modest Milwaukee neighborhood and has since blazed into a personal and professional passion.
After coaching at Iowa State University for seven years in which the Cyclones advanced to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, T.J. acceptied a position as Lorenzo Romar's top assistant at Washington University on May 7, 2013.
During his career, T.J. has cultivated a solid and well-rounded base of knowledge in the facets crucial to a winning program. He’s experienced in game planning and preparation, recruiting, player development, community relations and more, giving him a perspective that few other coaches can claim. His laser focus, leadership and inherent ability to connect with and motivate athletes contribute heavily to his success as a coach.
Steering the Cyclones to Success
T.J. became an integral part of the ISU men’s team in 2006 when Head Coach Greg McDermott invited him to join the staff as an assistant coach. His aptitude for recruiting and establishing rapport with players was instrumental in helping the Cyclones land top-notch recruits, including Wooden Award nominee and two-time All-Big 12 pick Craig Brackins, one of the highest ranked recruits ever to sign with Iowa State.
In May 2010, T.J.’s proven skills and abundance of energy and enthusiasm made him the natural choice as first-time head coach Fred Hoiberg’s right-hand man when Hoiberg joined the program. As Fred Hoiberg's Associate Head Coach for the past three seasons, T.J. managed game planning and preparation while continuing to foster connections with team members and other coaches, as well as the Iowa State University and Ames community.
In the 2011-12 season, the Cyclones won 23 games, finished third in the Big 12 Conference and advanced to the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to the eventual National Champion, Kentucky. Coach Hoiberg was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Iowa State made its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13 despite losing its top-three scorers from the season before. Led by four all-conference players, the Cyclones went 23-12 overall and 11-7 in league play, marking just the second time in school history where the Cyclones posted back-to-back 10-win conference seasons. ISU also defeated three ranked opponents and mounted a 22-game homecourt winning streak, tying for the second-best string in school history, as the Cyclones went 16-1 at home.
There wasn’t a more exciting team to watch than the Cyclones in 2012-13. ISU led all “power-six” conference teams and ranked third nationally in scoring at 79.4 ppg. ISU also led the nation in 3-pointers per game (9.9), breaking the Big 12 record and tying for the 14th-best total in NCAA history.
During T.J.’s time at Iowa State, the Cyclones produced 11 All-Big 12 performers.
The Early Years
As a high school standout at Saint Thomas More, T.J. became an instant leader. Voted team captain, he inspired teammates and continually drove them to reach new heights on the basketball court. These abilities earned T.J. to a spot on the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater men’s basketball team where he was again selected as a team captain. After four years of college basketball, T.J. graduated with a degree in business administration and a dream to coach. Recognizing his natural abilities, his former high school coach from Saint Thomas More invited T.J. to assist with the junior varsity team. It was here where he got his first real taste of coaching and loved it. This love for the game, desire to teach and natural leadership ability made coaching the perfect choice. T.J. continued on to pursue his master’s degree and landed an assistant coaching position at Catholic Central High School. Through hard work and consistent success he was later promoted to head coach and athletic director.
On a Personal Note
Joining T.J. in his love of the game is his wife Alison Lacey. As a former ISU player and coach, Alison is well aware of the high level of commitment necessary to succeed in collegiate athletics. The couple got married on June 1, 2013.