Exclusive: CN Sits Down With T.J. Otzelberger

Are you getting pumped for basketball season? We are here at CN, and we had a chance to sit down and talk about the upcoming season with assistant coach, T.J. Otzelberger. Find out what Otzelberger thinks about the 2006 season right here in this exclusive CN interview.

CN: Coach you have an inexperienced backcourt from a division one standpoint in Corey McIntosh and Michael Taylor. Talk about those guys and the leadership you're hoping that they will provide.

 

Otzelberger: I think that McIntosh playing at Fullerton College last year and leading his team to a 37-0 record, and being the point guard on that team night in and night out, just finding ways to win games, that's the same thing that we're going to need from him when he's here. He needs to provide that leadership and run our team. He needs to get us in our offense night in and night out.

 

As far as Mike Taylor, he's an extremely high energy player and I think that people feed off of his energy and his enthusiasm on the court. He really hates to lose. I think from a competitive standpoint, Mike Taylor is going to be the guy who when times get tough, we're really going to call on him to make a big play and to provide that enthusiasm to lead our team.

 

CN: How is Taylor's shooting range?

 

Otzelberger: He's worked extremely hard on shooting the three. His first year in junior college, for the entire season he only made like five 3-pointers and shot like 24%. Last year, he shot 40% and I think that he keeps working on it. He's developed himself into a good shooter and I think as explosive and quick as he is with the ball to the lane, that should definitely get a step on him when people guard him, once you give that it really allows him to make plays.

 

CN: Rahshon Clark is by far the most high profile player returning from last year's squad. How is he reacting with all of the new guys?

 

Otzelberger: I think that Rahshon has done a good job. By nature, he's probably a little more reserved and not quite as outgoing. He's done a good job of coming out of his comfort zone and being the person who he needs to be for these guys and showing them the ropes around campus. He's letting them know how things are and what an exciting environment Hilton will be on game nights.

 

CN: Without Curtis [Stinson] and Will [Blalock], do you think that's going to give him an opportunity to step out of their spotlight and have a big season?

 

Otzelberger: I think he's embracing the challenge. Last year, from an offensive standpoint, Curtis and Will stomached the majority of the shots and the offense for the most part. I think that Rahshon is welcoming the opportunity and wants that opportunity to step up and show that he's one of the best players in the Big 12 conference.

 

CN: How are the freshmen doing so far?

 

Otzelberger: I think that Dodie [Dunson] is a guy who will really compete for minutes at the guard spot. I think that he can play either position. The one thing that he brings to the table is that he can knock down a three maybe just about as well as anybody we have. He's really been a good chemistry guy. Guys on the team really like being around him. A lot of our recruits have forged relationships with him.

 

Wesley Johnson is extremely talented. He can play a few different positions on the floor and really has unlimited potential. He can be what he wants to be. He's really been impressive in the weight room, his body has transformed even since he's been here. He's probably put on 15 pounds of muscle since he got here. He continues to work on his ball skills and his jump shots.

 

The last freshman is Cory Johnson. I think that Cory is your classic overachiever. He's just a tough, hard-nosed kid. I think that once we get into practice and we start some structured play, his game is really going to take off.

 

CN: I've talked to a lot of people who have compared his style of play to Greg Brunner formally of Iowa, do you see that?

 

Otzelberger: Yeah, I would, Cory is a tough guy. We'll need him to rebound and be physical. He works really hard in the weight room so I'd say that's accurate. Cory has the ability to maybe step it out and shoot it a little better than Brunner did, but he needs to keep building on what he's already done so far here.

 

CN: A lot of these young guys had the opportunity to get some experience in the Capital City League this summer. What are your thoughts on that league?

 

Otzelberger: I think that when you're around the same group of guys for so long, it's good to find other environments to be able to compete and play against other guys. I think that the Capital City League gives our guys a chance to play against some real quality competition. To compete against them, they can work on their games and develop instead of just playing pick up games with each other all of the time.

 

CN: Do you believe in a rebuilding season?

 

Otzelberger: I don't believe in that. There's no season more important than the one that's in front of you. I think with us, that's how we're going to approach it. We're not worried about what's going to happen two or three years down the road. Our job is to put out the most competitive team and to be ready to play each game, this season. So as far as rebuilding, not at all. We do have a lot of new guys here but we think they're ready to help us win a lot of games.

 

 


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