AMES — The “E” word proved to be the word of the day for new Iowa State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm during his seven-minute stint on this morning’s Big 12 summer teleconference.
“I’m excited,” Prohm said.
He was referencing his 2015-16 Cyclones, of course.
With a versatile core consisting of Georges Niang, Jameel McKay, Monté Morris, Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Matt Thomas and Deonte Burton poised to enhance the Hilton Magic Fred Hoiberg reinvigorated over the past five seasons, the “E” word may end up slipping into the realm of understatement.
I’m excited about it,” Prohm reiterated. “I’m excited about the challenge. The Big 12 is a tremendous conference. We’ve got a lot of really, really good teams, programs and coaches. But I like this group. I feel really good. Our first six or seven I think are very, very good. We’ve just got to continue, really over the next couple months, just to develop some depth.”
Prohm’s coaching staff officially took full shape this morning, too.
T.J. Otzelberger will remain an assistant, as reported last night — and expected for weeks. William Small will join Prohm from his Murray State staff. Daniyal Robinson returns to Ames for stint No. 2 as an assistant (he worked with Otzelberger from 2008-10 during the Greg McDermott regime).
The ink has dried on all that — as well as Micah Byars’ retention as the director of basketball operations.
But how does Prohm see as strengths of his staff, now that’s it’s whole?
“First and foremost, hopefully it’s from a character standpoint — what they represent and what they bring to Iowa State,” Prohm said. “That they can impact this community and this university the right way. Second thing, I think guys that have been part of good programs, winning programs, guys that are familiar with Iowa State and understand what it takes to win here and be successful and get a good player here. And then guys that can get good players. Guys that have proven to sign very good players, guys that have gone on to play in the NBA or are going to go on and play in the NBA here shortly. I think we’re well-rounded from a recruiting base to the South, to the Midwest and junior college, but doing that with the right fit of guys from a character standpoint was big for me.”
That recruiting reference stands out, obviously.
Otzelberger’s proven he can get not only good, but great players to Ames — from transfers to high school players, mostly in the Midwest.
Small brought in a lot of talent at Murray State, including soon-to-be first round NBA Draft pick Cameron Payne.
That gives Prohm a dynamic duo, spanning the very regions he mentioned.
“I am excited about the staff that I’ve been able to assemble,” Prohm said in the news release that trumpeted the cementing of his staff. “This was a unique situation because Fred (Hoiberg) went to the NBA and I wanted to be very respectful to everybody involved in the process. “I thought that because of the success of the program it would be important to have some continuity.
“I also wanted some people around me that I’ve known for a while, to recruit the South, which is an area that has been very good to us. I also wanted to add some people with strong junior college and Midwest ties. It was important to me to have coaches with good character that are going to do things the right way on and off the court.”
Otzelberger, Prohm said, was “terrific” as the staff took form.
“Coach Prohm is someone that I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for in the coaching profession,”Otzelberger said in the release. “His teams have great confidence and he has a track record for developing players that play with great purpose. I can’t wait to get started working with him.”
Monday’s staff news also meant a couple Cyclone assistants will be looking for work elsewhere.
Cornell Mann, who recruited Morris and others to Ames, is one of them — as he confirmed to Cyclone Fanatic early this morning before the news became official.
Nate Loenser also appears to be on the move.
Those two will obviously be missed, as Morris and others Tweeted last night, particularly in reference to Mann (@8mileCorn):
“Love!!! No matter where u go you’ll never be forgotten. You watched me grow and made me a better man @8mileCorn," Morris Tweeted.
Mann will impact lives somewhere else next season, but likely will also watch with excitement as his former team tries to mount another run to the NCAA Tournament.
And that run will continue to move at a breakneck pace — an element of ISU’s game that Hoiberg re-instituted with flair and vigor.
As for the lowering of the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30 …
“I don’t think it will affect our team at all, individually, in the way we coach, in the way we want to play,” Prohm said. “If you watched our teams at Murray, we could get a couple shots up in 30 seconds so I don’t think that will be an issue.”
No it won’t. Cue the “E” words. Opening tip is only
GREEK “UP IN THE AIR”: Prohm said Georgios Tsamplmouris’s status with the team is “up in the air.” The 7-1 sophomore-to-be is back in Greece, competing for junior championships. Prohm said he should know whether Tsalmpouris will return to Ames “in a month or so.”
TRANSFER TALK: Prohm was asked Monday if his philosophy regarding transfer players would mirror Hoiberg’s. His response: “I think the way we built our teams at Murray is the same way we want to build them here at Iowa State and it starts with really good high school players."
“Junior college kids, to recruit them when you have a definite need, where they can step in, because you want any junior college kids you recruit to be able to step in and make an immediate impact,” Prohm continued. “And then obviously save a couple scholarships mid-year or for the end of the year — one or two scholarships — for transfers. That’s how our program was built at Murray; very, very similar to how they were successful here at Iowa State, so I don’t think there’ll be that much change in that regard.”