KANSAS CITY — In a 15 minute media session on Tuesday morning at the Sprint Center, Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said the word “consistency” at least 10 times. That’s what he is preaching to a young Cyclone basketball roster leading up to Sunday’s “secret scrimmage” vs. Nebraska.
Surprisingly though, it all begins with the few veterans in Ames. Guys like Nick Weiler-Babb, who Prohm said was Iowa State’s best player in the program’s first scrimmage leading up to the 2017-18 season.
“You are evaluating and looking at those kids differently now,” Prohm said at the Big 12’s annual media day. “It’s time for them to take the next step. You can’t have a good day and then an average day and a good day and then an average day. We have to cycle more consistent, good days. Yesterday he was really good. You can’t have the up and downs. We are going to have up and downs with the younger guys. The older guys need to be consistent every day.”
Weiler-Babb, who averaged 4.0 points per game during an up and down sophomore season, was joined by Donovan Jackson and Solomon Young representing Iowa State in Kansas City.
It has been a vastly different preseason for those guys when you consider what their roles were last year compared to now. Iowa State, who was recently voted ninth in the Big 12’s Preseason Poll, has to replace 82 percent of its scoring from last year’s team that’s season ended in the Round of 32.
“We have spent a ton of time on offense just because we have so many young guys,” Prohm said. “We do play a unique style when it comes to pace and spacing and freedom so when you have so many new guys you have to spend a lot of time with that. This week it will be a lot more defense and hopefully we don’t regress on the offensive side of the floor.”
This week of season preparation conclude when Nebraska comes to town on Sunday for a closed exhibition contest, one where Prohm says he won’t pay much attention to the final score.
“I think the biggest thing for vs. Nebraska is where are we at with our defensive principles? It’s a little different now,” Prohm said. “We didn’t really crash the glass in the past. This year, we’ll go three, four and five, hard. Maybe even four at times as we go throughout the year. Do we know what we are doing offensively? I think those are the major things. Just the real fundamental stuff. If we win by 10 or lose by 20, I’m not really concerned about that. I just want to know where we are at.”
Iowa State will take the floor of Hilton Coliseum for the first time this season in just 12 days in an exhibition vs. Emporia State.
Get Hans healthy
Prohm continued to praise the potential of Princeton graduate transfer Hans Brase. The 6-foot-7, 229-pound forward averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his last full season as a Tiger, 2014-15, before blowing out his knee and taking a medical redshirt last year.
Prohm’s message regarding Brase: This guy can be a difference maker for a young team.
“There is more of a calmness and a steadiness when he is on the floor,” Prohm said. “That’s being a senior coming from a winning program. He understands ball movement, ball-screen angles, all of the little things.”
He also brings versatility to Iowa State’s lineup.
“You can plan Hans and Solomon together. They can be bookends,” Prohm said. “If it’s Solomon and Cameron, you’re going with more power. You really need to try to hurt people on the glass. We just need to find out what’s best. We bounced around with lineups last year trying to figure it out. There’s no perfect way to find it out in practice. You’ve got to find it out through the trials and tribulations from games and then as coaches, we have to adjust.”
Prohm said that Brase is currently running with the team and going full contact in the half court.
“He makes a big difference,” Prohm said. “There is no hiding that. He brings leadership, he brings IQ, he brings skill, he can really pass. We just have to get him healthy. If we can get him in the fold, he can make a big difference for us.”
A Cameron Lard comparison
It happened twice on Tuesday morning – the Cameron Lard/Jameel McKay comparison.
Prohm was the first to drop it, followed by Weiler-Babb.
Prohm said that Lard, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound redshirt freshman power forward, was Iowa State’s best player in scrimmage No. 2.
“Cam had a couple of blocks the other day that were outstanding,” Prohm said. “He has a chance to do some really good things but with all of those young guys, we’ll keep it really simple. Rim run, stay opposite of the ball, split the screen and run like crazy.”
BEVERLY’S ROLE: Prohm’s analysis on graduate transfer Jeff Beverly’s current role within the team was surprising.
“The biggest thing that he brings right now that we need is shooting,” Prohm said. “Obviously he is a four for us. I don’t see us going super small with him at the five but he is a four who really needs to spread the defense. He can make open shots and that’s the biggest things I would stress to him.”
Beverly, a 6-foot-6, 242-pound four-man out of UTSA, was only a 23 percent 3-point shooter as a junior last season. Prohm said he has gotten better…
“If he is open from three, I feel really comfortable with him making that shot,” Prohm said. “We need him to step up and make that. That’s what we need from him, shot making. He can make shots and that’s what we need from him with this team.”
NO COMMENT: Prohm didn’t give an answer when asked what the starting lineup would be on Sunday.
WIGGINTON: Again, that word.
“It’s consistency,” Prohm said. “But he’s a freshman.”