Washington Huskies Basketball: The Impact Of T.J. Otzelberger


Feb 2, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar speaks with Washington Huskies guard C.J. Wilcox (23) during free throws by the UCLA Bruins during the second half at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Washington defeated UCLA, 71-69. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t heard, Lorenzo Romar made two additions to his staff this month. Most recently, he brought Raphael Chillious back after a season at Villanova. The other name isn’t so familiar. T.J. Otzelberger comes to Washington after spending the last seven seasons at Iowa State. He spent his first four seasons at Iowa State as an assistant coach under Greg McDermott before Fred Hoiberg took over. Under Hoiberg, Otzelberger acted as associate head coach.

At Iowa State, Otzelberger was mostly known for his recruiting prowess. Throughout his tenure there, he helped bring in NBA draft picks Craig Brackins, Mike Taylor and Justin Hamilton among others. While that was his main role, Otzelberger eventually grew into a bigger role in game planning as well. As his role became bigger, the Cyclones record got better. In Otzelberger’s three years as associate head coach, the Cyclones made the NCAA twice (the two years the Huskies did not).

The move to Washington is a natural progression in Otzelberger’s career that he hopes to one day lead to a head coaching job. With his track record, it shouldn’t be hard for Romar to expand his coaching tree. For now, though, he is in Seattle to help the Huskies get back to the expectations that were established nearly a decade ago.

While the roles are still being established within the coaching staff, it is expected that Otzelberger will rank high as an assistant under Romar. He brings two key qualities: recruiting and X’s and O’s.

As a high-up assistant, Otzelberger should make a big impact in both areas, being an ace recruiter as well as helping a sometimes-stagnant offense.

It is no secret that the Huskies have lost out on some big time recruits over the last few years, many being post players, leading to a rather depleted frontcourt recently. This is where Otzelberger can make the biggest impact.

The additions of Chillious and Otzelberger compare nicely to Steve Sarkisian’s additions of Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi. Both coaches know what they’re doing on the field, but really can make an impact off the field too, with recruiting.

Lupoi practically singlehandedly switched Shaq Thompson to Washington; maybe Otzelberger or Chillious can do the same in the future. Maybe Romar isn’t enough anymore. For a team to be truly elite, it has to have elite talent and/or coaching. With a staff that includes Romar, Otzelberger, Chillious, Jim Shaw, Paul Fortier and Brad Jackson, we know the coaching is there. With the additions of two top recruiters, the talent should be there in no time.

After two down seasons, things are looking up for the Dawgs. This is arguably the best coaching staff Romar has had in his twelve seasons at Washington. The roster is oozing with potential, as well as future rosters with the new possible recruits Otzelberger could help attract. He should help revitalize Husky basketball.