Otzelberger discusses tough schedule and veteran players at Big 12 Media Day


Jacob Rice

Gabe Kalscheur smiles in front of the Iowa State logo at Media Day on Oct. 12.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

College basketball season is now less than three weeks away, and teams are starting to ramp up the intensity as practice continues.

Iowa State men’s basketball head coach T.J. Otzelberger and players Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes discussed the difficulty of Big 12 play this year, what went into last year’s turnaround and more in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday.

Iowa State built up a strong non-conference schedule this season, matching up with top programs such as Villanova and Iowa with the possibility of matching up with teams such as North Carolina at the Phil Knight Invitational.

In addition to the top-tier programs, the Cyclones are also set to face some teams that frequently make the NCAA Tournament including St. John’s.

Otzelberger said that after an unbeaten non-conference stretch last season, the Big 12 was a big step up in terms of difficulty. With the difficulty of this schedule, it may help the team ease into Big 12 play a bit better.

“It’s a really challenging non-conference slate,” Otzelberger said. “That 18 games you play in the Big 12 Conference, there’s nothing like it.”

Last season Iowa State improved from a two-win season to a 22-win season. The breakout season was a streaky one for the Cyclones, but Otzelberger said that it was more of a compliment to the rest of the Big 12 than a point against Iowa State.

“I don’t think our season was a roller coaster,” Otzelberger said. “I think our season was more a credit to what great coaches, players and programs we have within this league.”

Otzelberger also discussed bringing in transfers from smaller programs. Iowa State brought in Jeremiah Williams from Temple, Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi from St. Bonaventure and Hason Ward from VCU.

Otzelberger said that he loves recruiting experienced players from mid-major programs because they have a lot of experience and are oftentimes well-coached.

Gabe Kalscheur discussed what he needs to do differently to take this team to the next level this year. One of the things Kalscheur mentioned is building up consistency. Kalscheur had his ups and downs shooting the ball last season, ending the year with a 36-shooting percentage.

The defensive standout also mentioned that he has to step up as a leader this season. Playing in his fifth collegiate season, Kalscheur feels that he can help pass down everyday routines to the younger players.

Kalscheur lastly credited the fans for helping the team turn it around.

“We pour into that floor, and fans pour into us,” Kalscheur said.