Basketball

WILLIAMS: Addressing two elephants in the room

MILWAUKEE — Let’s just get these two storylines out of the way now.

Being that three members of Iowa State’s roster – Deonte Burton, Darrell Bowie and Donovan Jackson – are all from the city of Milwaukee, will that be a distraction leading up to Thursday night’s (8:57 tip on TRUtv) Round of 64 matchup vs. Nevada?

“I keep saying, ‘This is the last time I am going to talk about it.’ Then I say something else about it. We aren’t going to talk about it anymore,” Steve Prohm said on Tuesday night. “We are here. It is a great city. It has been really good to Iowa State for a long time. It’s great that we have three players from here and they all have been very impactful for our program. I’m excited that their families don’t have to travel to see them play. Also it is great only being five hours from home.”

Matt Thomas – an Onolaska, Wisc. native – will face similar pressures playing this close to home.

“We should all be mature enough to block out those distractions and our family and friends should all understand that we are here to win two games,” Thomas said. “We are going to have time with them in our down time but they can’t be a distraction. They have to respect our time with our team.”

Learned from UAB?

The only reason I even bring this up is because Monte Morris did directly following Iowa State’s Big 12 Tournament championship win vs. West Virginia last Saturday night in Kansas City.

The last time Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament, it lost to 14th seeded UAB in the first round of the Big Dance. So boom, there’s the talking point.

“We talked about it right away after the game,” Prohm said. “In my postgame speech I talked about it. Also in my postgame press conference. I think this is a focused group. We will be at our best on Thursday and hopefully it is good enough.”

According to Naz Mitrou-Long, Iowa State is using UAB to its advantage.

“It is used as a tool too keep us humble but I definitely wouldn’t say that it has been a focal part of our conversations. If we continuously bring up something like that then it keeps bringing up negative vibes. Everything about it was wrong. Maybe that will carry onto our game.”

Personally, I think that at this point, any talk of UAB is pointless for a couple of reasons.

For one, like anything in life, you learn from mistakes. These guys learned from that as we saw last year in Denver.

Two, this is a totally different basketball team. It is a closer group that plays better defense. It probably isn’t as talented but I do feel like this 2016-17 squad is less prone to a shocking upset.

If Iowa State loses to Nevada on Thursday, it will be because they lost to a better team on that day. Not because of overlooking an opponent or not being focused.

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