Mar 17, 2016; Denver , CO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm in the closing seconds of Iowa State vs Iona in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State’s basketball team will take to the Hilton Coliseum court for the first time during the 2016-17 season on Sunday evening when they host Sioux Falls for an exhibition at 6. That comes after the Iowa State women get the afternoon started by hosting Briar Cliff at 1.
There isn’t always a ton that can be taken away from these exhibition games considering the disparity in talent from the opposition. However, it will be nice to be able to go to Hilton and watch a basketball game.
Here are five points on Iowa State’s exhibition against Sioux Falls.
1 — Everything to know about Sioux Falls hoops in 147 words
Sioux Falls made the jump from NAIA to NCAA Division II back in 2011 after a successful run that included Sweet Sixteen berths in 2009 and 2010. Since moving up, the Cougars have consistently been around .500, including last season when they went 17-13.
Chris Johnson’s team was picked sixth in the NSIC and returns one of the top players in the league in senior guard Mack Johnson. The 6-foot-3-inch Roseville, Minn. native averaged 17.5 points per game last season.
In addition, the Cougars return their second and third leading scorers in senior Daniel Hurtt (11.6) and sophomore Drew Guebert (10.4). Their roster could be considered big with nine players listed at 6-foot-7-inches or taller, including freshman, and Cascade, Iowa native, Devin Green.
The Cougars lost to Iowa in an exhibition game (99-73) last season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
2 — Minutes
Don’t be surprised if Iowa State’s key contributors play close to a normal number of minutes.
“I think these guys will play a decent amount,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “With Monte (Morris) Sunday, I would think he’d play 28 to 30 (minutes) this week, because then we’re playing. I want to make sure guys are getting game reps, too.”
3 — Defense
Iowa State’s top priority during the game will likely be its defensive intensity. Improving the defense has been one of the top things on Prohm’s agenda all throughout the preseason and this will give them a solid test before the regular season starts on Nov. 11.
“If we do a good job, and we don’t have as many clips as I just watched from poor defense, poor ball-screen defense, then it’s a success,” Prohm said. “I don’t care if we shoot 4-for-22 from three or 12-for-22, I think we made a bunch of threes the other day. Shot a really good percentage. The four seniors really scored the ball well. We’ve got to do more than just score. We’ve got defend at a better level.”
I’m really interested if we’ll see this three-quarter court pressure Prohm and the players have been talking up over the last few weeks. The makeup of Iowa State’s roster could make that a very positive addition the arsenal if they can do it effectively.
“Just defense, man. The defense just picks up,” senior Naz Mitrou-Long said when asked what would make the exhibition a success. “We know we’re going to score points. We have so many weapons that it could be anyone’s night on any given night. Honestly, I just want to see us grow defensively. I want to see that scrap out of us, out of myself. I want to see us rebound the ball to the best of our ability. We’re smaller than most teams, everybody knows that, but, you know, we have dogs in here and we need to bring the dog out of each other.”
4 — Rim running
Former Iowa State forward Jameel McKay showed the positives of running the floor in transition a number of times during his career in Ames. Now, Prohm is trying to get his front court players to reap those same benefits.
Rim-running, or running down the middle of the floor from defense to offense, has been one of the things Prohm has harped on most to his big-men.
“Our teams should pride themselves on the way we convert from defense to offense,” Prohm said. “We should be as fast or faster than anybody in the country. The way we run the wings, the way we put pressure on the rim and the way we open the floor for our guards to make plays. Yeah, it is frustrating, because it’s almost like it’s a choice. You’re either going to run or you’re not. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see graduate transfers Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie, plus freshman Solomon Young, collect a few easy buckets off purely running the floor.
5 — Small-ball
I’m interested to see how much Prohm goes to the small-ball lineup he’s detailed over the last few weeks. A group with Morris, Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton and Nick Weiler-Babb has the potential to be extremely explosive, especially against an opponent like this.
I won’t be surprised if Prohm uses a handful of different lineup combinations just to test things out in a live setting. That includes getting minutes for guys that won’t see the floor quite as much during the regular season.
At the end of the day, the game is just an exhibition, but it sure will be nice to be back in Hilton Coliseum watching basketball.