Lacey steps down as MCC women’s basketball coach

Alison Lacey’s short time at the helm of the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball program has come to an end, neither by sanction nor surprise.

Nearly one month to the day after her new husband T.J. Otzelberger accepted an assistant coaching position with the University of Washington men’s basketball team, Lacey turned in her resignation to MCC athletic director Dan Huntley.

Otzelberger and Lacey were married Saturday in Milwaukee.

“When they got married Saturday, you knew things would come fairly quickly after that,” said Huntley. “I’m sure her objectives are to live a good life and be a part of a family, and that’s really what she’s looking forward to. It’s a bonus for her to be able to go back to Seattle, she knows the area from when she played there (with the Seattle Storm).

“Whether she pursues coaching again or not, at this point I don’t know.”

Attempts to reach Lacey on Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.

Lacey came to Marshalltown Community College in the winter of 2011, having already ended her professional playing career in the fall. The former Iowa State University standout guard stepped in as the interim volunteer head coach during the Tigers’ troubled times, when NJCAA sanctions forced the firing of former head coach Larry Roberts.

After the Australia native’s visa issues were resolved in February of 2012, she was officially hired on as the Tigers’ head coach and the international student success specialist at the college. Her first full season as coach, the Tigers went 11-20 this past winter while contending with scholarship reductions as a result of MCC’s prior violations of National Junior College Athletic Association rules.

Two weeks after Otzelberger accepted the position in Seattle, Lacey signed South Tama County High School senior Kaleigh Sieck to a letter of intent. While it raised speculation about Lacey’s anticipated departure from the college, it meant if she did intend to leave MCC that she wasn’t going to leave the cupboards bare.

Lacey told the Times-Republican her recruiting class was nearly complete upon the signing of Sieck, though her departure from the Tiger program seemed imminent with her upcoming marriage to Otzelberger.

The former Iowa State men’s basketball assistant had been with the Cyclones since 2006, arriving with former head coach Greg McDermott. When McDermott left for Creighton, Otzelberger stayed on as a part of Fred Hoiberg’s staff and was promoted to associate head coach in 2010.

“It was a conversation we all knew was going to happen after T.J. took that (Washington) job, everybody kind of assumed the same thing,” Huntley said. “So it wasn’t a surprise to us.

“For the person hiring, it’s never the perfect time, but for the person hoping to be hired it is the perfect time. She will remain on until the end of June with her other portion of the job at MCC, it’s important for the admissions department to have consistency there as well.”

Huntley said paid assistant coach Dashad Isumu will remain on the basketball staff, and the head coaching position will be openly advertised immediately.

“I have already received some applications and some interest,” Huntley said. “With there being a full-time position attached to it, I expect we will receive some quality applications.

“Lacey has done the things she needed to do to become a better coach, but unfortunately she won’t get to see it come to fruition here. Once you make that initial announcement, there’s not much you can do, you can’t continue to recruit; Dashad has done a pretty good job keeping in touch with those kids and maintaining contact.”

Lacey ended her Iowa State career as the only player in school history with 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists while also being one of the program’s most prolific 3-point shooters. She was an honorable mention All-American and got drafted 10th overall by the WNBA’s Seattle Storm in 2010 – still the highest ever for a Cyclone.

“I am thankful for the time Alison spent on our campus,” Huntley said. “She made an immediate impact on our student-athletes with her coaching style and practice preparation. We all wish her well as she moves onto the next stage in her life.”