DES MOINES — This just in: Steve Prohm knows who his Cyclones will play in Spain in about a week.
“Barcelona all-stars,” Prohm said Monday while preparing to take part in the annual Coaches vs. Cancer golf outing at the Wakonda Club. “And then maybe a couple others. I think we maybe play the same team twice. I’m not really sure. I just skimmed over the itinerary.”
Obviously, these types of trips aren’t booked in order to scout opponents and install all of the team’s schemes. [**Incidentally, ISU tweeted out the schedule early this afternoon after this sport posted. It’s: Aug. 12: Venezuelan National Team (Madrid); Aug. 14: Valencia All Stars; Aug. 17, 19: Barcelona All Stars.]
As Prohm said last month at the outset of the first of 10 NCAA-allowed practices, the journey will be long on team bonding and short on x’s and o’s.
“Just to have some structure," he said. "It’s not going over there and trying to win by 30 and dominate each game. Really use it as a learning experience for me, for them — a team-building experience. We’ll be pretty vanilla offensively. These guys really know how to play. They know how to share the ball. They know how to space the floor. That’s similar to how we’re going to play in the regular season, so we’ll play like that, out of transition a lot. May have a couple sets, but not much. I really don’t want them thinking. I just want them playing.”
ISU, a consensus top-10 team based on preseason projections, has remained healthy over the first handful of practices, Prohm added.
Guard Hallice Cooke, he said, is not 100 percent yet, but has practiced every day and is doing well.
As for Naz Long, who’s also coming off of double hip surgery …
“He’s doing great with all of his rehab,” Prohm said.” He’ll travel with us over there. He’s shooting. He can shoot on the move a little bit now, so he’s getting better. I love his energy, love his personality. You can see why everybody says he’s really one of the big, big leaders of this program.”
One of many.
Prohm said several players have shown those rock-solid attributes since he signed on to lead the program in early June.
“Leadership’s been great,” Prohm said. “The four seniors are terrific. Naz, obviously, is not practicing, but the other three — Jameel (McKay), Abdel (Nader) and Georges (Niang) — I couldn’t speak more highly of the job they’re doing. Monté (Morris) is great, I’ve got a great relationship with him and then Matt Thomas has been terrific. Off the bench, you look at really the two new guys: Hallice, who hasn’t played yet here. Obviously he played at Oregon State a year, and Jordan Ashton and Nick Noskowiak, those are really our eight.”
The Cyclones have also occasionally welcomed back old friends such as big man Daniel Edozie and athletic Kourtlin Jackson to allow for some full scrimmage opportunities during this stretch of 10 extra practices.
“(Transfers) Deonte (Burton) and Nick (Babb) can’t practice so that makes it a little bit tough, but we’ve been able, when we get the three guys coming back — Kourtlin, Daniel and Danny — when we get them back, we’re able to go up and down 5-on-5, so that’s good. We’ll do that a couple days when they’re there, and when they’re not throughout this week, we’ll just do a lot of dummy offense, some team defense, more 4-on-4.”
So there’s some structure, but that’s not the main focus yet — nor for the trip to Spain.
“It’s a nice trip,” Prohm said. “We’re very fortunate and blessed to be able to go on the trip. We’ll se Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia — all those great places, everybody’s told me how nice it is over there. So we’re looking forward to it. Its really eight to 10 days of just team bonding and team building and getting a chance to sight-see.”
Maybe even more.
“We may run with the bulls,” Prohm joked. “I’m not sure. If Georges can outrun the bulls, we’ll do it. I don’t need him getting hurt, though, doing that. Monté could probably outrun them. We’ll see.”
Back to the bonding. That’s job numero uno.
“(We’ll) get to know them better on a deeper level, because relationships (are) what throws you over,” Prohm said. “Relationships drive any successful team or any successful program.”
* What’s Georgios Tsalmpouris’s status with the team? “Status quo,” Prohm said. In other words, still up in the air. Prohm and the 7-1 Greek have been in contact via text, Twitter and other social media apps. “I’ll talk to him again this week before we leave,”Prohm added.
* Prohm also said they’d appealed to the NCAA to allow Burton and Babb to practice pre-Spain, but the appeal was denied.
* Prohm said he was excited to take part in the Coaches vs. Cancer event. “First off it’s a great cause: fighting cancer,” he said. “Anything we can do individually, as a program and as a staff, we’re going to do. … As a leader, it’s your responsibility to influence people and to impact people. Coming out today and being able to give back and share, that’s a requirement, but it’s something I love to do.”
* What’s Prohm’s golf game like? "I’m not Tiger Woods or Phil Mickeslon or Jordan Spieth, but I’m better than probably Charles Barkley or some of those guys I’ve seen on TV hit it — just kidding, Charles. But I can hit it. I don’t score well, but I can hit the ball.”