Doug Gottlieb to Coach Team 23 in TBT 2019


By: Peyton Wesner | @pcwesner

The long-time college basketball radio host and analyst is eager to bring Team 23 back to the TBT Championship

Doug Gottlieb has done it all.

The Milwaukee, Wis., native played college ball at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, played professionally in the U.S. and overseas, and has since become one of the better-known college basketball analysts/radio hosts in the country. But one thing the 43-year-old has never dabbled in is participating in TBT.

Until now.

After interest and an open invitation, Gottlieb will coach Team 23 this summer. Davin White and Larry Owens’ Team 23 will be playing in its fifth tournament this July.

“I’ve been asked and I accept the chance to coach Team 23,” said Gottlieb in his verification video. “We gonna win two million dollars! We goin' Sizzler!”

Gottlieb, who led the NCAA in assists twice with Oklahoma State, showed intrigue in TBT last summer. During Scarlet & Gray’s tournament run, Gottlieb took to social media and said, ”Watching Scarlet and Gray play makes me wish we had @thetournament in the 2000s.” That one tweet has led him to the sidelines. 

”It started on Twitter,” said Team 23 general manager Mike Illiano. ”I just said to him in a comment, joking around, ’Come coach us next year!’

”He answered. That’s how it organically grew.”

Former Team 23 head coach Ron Katich had previously told Illiano he wanted fewer responsibilities, leaving a vacancy for Gottlieb. Katich suggested approaching an available head coach, such as NCAA National Champion Rick Pitino. 

”[Katich's idea] got me thinking: who would be the perfect type of person to come in and want to do this?” said Illiano. ”I just took a gamble.”

Illiano and Gottlieb have worked together to build a roster during the application period. The head coach and general manager text on a daily basis, per Illiano.

”We had talked about players,” said Illiano. ”I mentioned to him an initial list of guys and on the list was about three guys that I have up there [on the roster] now."

Illiano’s primary focus was adding an influx of youth. In 2018, Team 23 had an average age of 31.5 years old. After Pepperdine University’s all-time leading scorer Stacy Davis and former Sons of Westwood guard Jordan Adams joined last week, the group is now two years younger.

”I remember saying after last year, ’This isn’t working. I have to change,’” explained Illiano. “Now, our average age is 29.5 [years old]. We have gotten much younger.”

Team 23 is one of seven teams to have played for the TBT championship. Four years ago, the Arizona-based team fell to Overseas Elite, 67-65, in — what remains — the championship game with the smallest margin of victory.

Illiano, however, is not fixated on avenging a past defeat.

”I want to have a successful rebuild more than anything,” said Illiano. “No one has had to rebuild after they have had success in the tournament. I think I am the first GM that has had to do that.”