Coaches now hands off in player development


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Coach Fred Hoiberg gives instructions to his players during the game against Northern Arizona on Friday, Nov. 12. Iowa State beat the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks with a score of 78-64.

Chris Cuellar

Those sky-high expectations for the 2011-2012 edition of the ISU men’s basketball team will have to simmer through the summer for Cyclone fans.

Individual workouts for players ended last week and now coaches must be hands-off until mid-June. With a team designed around young players and transfers ready to hit the floor, this means the Cyclones have to work on their own to improve the way the team’s expectations say they will.

“It’s 100 percent up to them, even if they come in and ask us we can’t give them any feedback,” said ISU assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger. “I think for us the greatest challenge will be meshing the guys together and finding the right blend of how we play and lineups that fit together.”

Once Dead Week and final exams wrap up, players are free to make summer plans until the team meets back up in June. Workouts and shoot-arounds are all voluntary with team managers able to help rebound and assist. The team can’t practice together for another month after that.

“It’s a long stretch, because we really can’t do anything with them again,” Otzelberger said. “Because we’re going to Italy we can start practicing with them probably in late July or early August, but had we not had that trip we wouldn’t be able to do anything with them until school started in the fall.”

The Cyclones will get games to grow and build on a team trip in August to Italy, likely playing against professional teams and other regional clubs.

The NCAA allows programs to take one out-of-season trip abroad every four years, and the team gets 10 extra practices to play together because of the trip, which coaches believe will be beneficial for the transfer-heavy team.

“Having those four guys sit out and now those guys become eligible, it’s good for those guys to build that chemistry and work out together and hang out together and play together so that process is taking hold before next season starts so we’re not coming in like a bunch of transfers, but more like guys that have been in the program for awhile,” Otzelberger said.

With the availability of four transfers expected to play larger roles and the development of key role players in the program, the squad is expected to have a balanced attack with different players capable of scoring points in a hurry.

“I think we have as much or more talent as we’ve had in five or six years,” Otzelberger said. “I think we have guys that are proven. Next year you could foreseeably have five guys in double figures and five guys that at some point in the year score 25 in a game.”

Otzelberger and director of basketball operations Jeff Rutter are the two longest tenured members of the basketball staff and player corps, and Otzelberger feels like his time to still be on the bench in late March has come.

“I just want to get to the post-season,” Otzelberger said. “I want to make sure that we’re playing after the Big 12 Tournament, I think that’s extremely important. I feel strong ties here and investment in this program and just really want to see us get this thing to a point where we’re a continual contender.”