The following is a transcript of Steve Prohm’s appearance on Wednesday’s Big 12 teleconference.
Q: What was the most surprising thing about your first year at Iowa State and in the Big 12?
Prohm:You know, surprise is probably a tough word. Obviously, coming into the job I knew expectations were at an all-time high. I knew replacing Fred (Hoiberg) was going to be, you know, very difficult. I knew I’d have to have a lot of humility in replacing him. And then you knew the league when you look at the hall of famers in this league and how good our league is, you knew our league was going to be terrific. I guess the biggest surprise was it’s just night in and night out. You have to have your best game if you’re going to be successful. But that’s something you pretty much know. I don’t know that there was a ton of surprises. You know, this is a tough, tough league and, you know, you’ve got to have big, big players to win, so, obviously, recruiting is the biggest key.
Q: Just looking over the first year, what do you think is going to be the most special memory of your first year coaching that group of guys?
Prohm:You know, getting to the Sweet 16. This program’s only been to the Sweet 16 five times. To be a part of that, to be a part of one of those five teams in our first year in Ames was terrific. Being able to coach and learn with Georges (Niang) and build a great relationship with him over the year. That’s going to continue to help me grow and become a better coach down the road. But the biggest thing is just getting a part of understanding what Hilton Magic is all about. You know, we came back to beat Iowa. That was an amazing moment in that arena. You know, we’ve probably got one of the top five fan bases in the country and places to play.
Q: After coaching a season in the Big 12, do you think it is as strong as everyone says it is?
Prohm:Yeah, you know, just sitting in the Big 12 meetings when you’re young you sit and listen. You know, Coach (Bob) Huggins, you know, made a statement about how it is the toughest league he’s been in and obviously he’s been into a lot of wars and coached great teams and been a part of great, great leagues and went against great coaches. But I think you’ve got five or six Final Four coaches. You’ve got five or six hall of fame coaches in this league. The talent level in the league has been strong and I think we’ve been the No. 1 RPI over the last three or four years. So it’s as good or better. That’s why every night you’ve got to be good and you’ve got to be able to recruit really good players in order to be successful.
Q: Georges did so much for you guys. How do you absorb that loss?
Prohm:You know, with all the great players that I’ve coached, I’ve been fortunate in a short time to coach some really good players. You know, it’s kind of next man up, the next guy emerges. You know, when their role is made bigger, is increased. You know, they get a little bit more freedom. You know, I go down through different teams and you lose the one guy. You know, to replace him the next guy stands up, you know, steps up. You know, obviously, I’d love to have Georges back but that’s not possible. He’s the all-time leader in wins here. Second leading scorer in the history of the school. You know, two Sweet 16 appearances for him, a couple Big 12 tournament championships. You know, we ran a lot of offense through him. His ability to create for others and really to score. The way he puts pressure on the defense. And the way he closed the season, the way he had multiple 30-point games, I think he averaged 30-plus the last two or three weeks of the season. So that was incredible. You know, guys like Deonte Burton have got to step up and his role’s got to expand. Naz (Mitrou-Long), Matt Thomas, Monte (Morris), those four guys, their roles all have to expand. They’ve got to be better and then the other guys, the new guys, they’ve got to step into roles. Everybody has to max their job out. We’ve just got to slowly close the gaps of what he left.
Q: Is Ray (Kasongo) on campus yet and what are you expecting out of him once he becomes eligible?
Prohm:No, the guys that aren’t here yet will be here the weekend of July 9-10. Because summer school will be done and the second session with start on the 11th. So he won’t be here until then. You know, the biggest thing with this sit-out year is to get an understanding of our system at both ends of the floor, both offensively and defensively. Really work on his skill level. Get him in the weight room, get bigger and stronger. So when he’s eligible he really understands post defense. He really understands ball screen defense. He understands balls screen offense and understands how we want to play. I think he can be a presence at the rim, changing and effecting shots.