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CEDAR FALLS — While continuity in sports is valued at all levels, sometimes change can be a good thing.
That was part of the mindset of former UNI men’s basketball associate head coach Kyle Green when he was deciding three weeks ago if he should accept an offer to join T.J. Otzelberger’s staff at Iowa State.
“Change can be good, and it brings new energy and enthusiasm and excitement and vitality to what’s going on,” Green said. “That’ll happen at UNI with a new voice. Here (at Iowa State) same thing for me personally.
“You can just feel within the building there’s enthusiasm that comes with change that way. As hard as it can be.”
Set to enter his 17th season at UNI, Green felt the urge to go elsewhere since becoming a Division I head coach someday still occupies space in his mind.
While at UNI, he was part of two Missouri Valley Conference championships, four NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
When he gave the news to UNI head coach Ben Jacobson, Green joked there was just one question the 15-year Panther coach had for him.
“With Jake his only question to me was, ‘Hey man, I’m happy for you, is your son (AJ) staying?’ As soon as I said ‘yeah’ he’s like, ‘OK great man, good luck,’” Green said with a laugh.
Green’s relationship with Otzelberger that dates back more than 15 years and the modest move west to Ames were two critical factors in making his decision. He won’t be around as much, obviously, but he’ll still have opportunities to get back to Cedar Falls and watch AJ and his daughter, Emerson, play for the Panthers.
“This one really came down to personal opportunity, obviously to move my career forward, but one that made most sense for me because it was with a guy that I had known for 15 years-plus and had a great relationship with. A guy I believe in and trust,” Green said. “And a move that we could make without really affecting my family in that we wouldn’t have to make a move physically right away.
“It was very bittersweet, because I love UNI and obviously love the opportunity to coach and watch my son every day and be around my daughter.”
Once Green had made his decision to leave UNI and accept Otzelberger’s offer, AJ’s reaction was just what Green thought it’d be.
“We had a number of talks and he was unbelievably supportive. He was great,” Green said. “In typical AJ fashion, when I finally told him I was going to make the move and decide to do that, he said, ‘OK, can we get you on the schedule?’”
“That was his first question — he wanted to beat me.”