Dec 6, 2018; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Cordell Pemsl (35) is held back as officials attend to a skirmish against the Iowa State Cyclones during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
IOWA CITY — Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said he tried to play the role of peacemaker during two extra-testy moments during Thursday’s 98-84 loss to No. 18 Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The first incident stemmed from some pushing and shoving that escalated into a confrontation between Cyclones forward Michael Jacobson and the Hawkeyes’ Connor McCaffery.
The second occurred as the final seconds ticked off the clock, as several players clashed when the horn blared.
Prohm rushed onto the floor on the latter occasion, hoping to tamp down tempers and keep opposing players apart.
“I told (Iowa assistant) coach (Kirk) Speraw this and (Hawks forward) Tyler Cook was right there, too,” Prohm explained after the loss. “I think the first thing is it’s the responsibility of the coach to get out there and make sure, (a), your guys are back on the bench, and (b), that nothing happens. And Tyler Cook and I, we made eye contact, and we were both getting everybody settled and then (one) of the (Iowa) assistants came over and just told me, ‘Man, get your hands off my guys.’ And if anybody knows me, I’m probably one of the most, I don’t know, I’m not even gonna go there, but that was it. ‘Hey, I’m trying to do the right thing here. Why would you even say that, man? Let’s just get these kids separated,’ and Tyler was right there. He was helping me. So I went over to Kirk and I apologized and I’ll apologize to (Hawkeyes head coach) Fran (McCaffery).”
Prohm also stepped on the floor during the first incident in an attempt to calm matters down.
“I didn’t see anything at first and then Mike and one of the guys are nose to nose,” Prohm said. “So obviously somebody’s gotta run out there and break the thing up so I ran out there and got them separated and then all of a sudden (Iowa’s) Cordell Pemsl comes out of nowhere. Everything was done. It was over and done with. So that was frustrating, but it’s all heat of the moment. Fran’s got great kids. We’ve got great kids. It’s a rivalry game. Things got testy. Great win for them. And we’ll play them again next year and that’s it.”
Prohm also apologized for reacting strongly to the words of the unnamed Iowa assistant.
“I shouldn’t do that, but it got chippy at the end, but we should have played better,” Prohm said. “We should have played harder, but we didn’t. But this was good. We needed this game to see where we’re at and what we’ve got to go. And winning on the road’s tough, but if you want to compete for championships like I think this team can and you’re going to compete down the road in the postseason, you’ve gotta be able to win on the road. And you’ve got to be able to handle the environments, but it got chippy. I don’t even know why.”
McCaffery said the game was “spirited” from the outset and praised Prohm and the Cyclones.
“I have tremendous respect for Steve Prohm, really do,” McCaffery said. “They’ve got a really good team. They’re going to win a lot of games. … I wish it didn’t happen, but it’s just competition and we’lll move on.”
After the final incident, McCaffery gathered his players and they left the floor without shaking hands with the Cyclones. When a reporter began to ask him why, McCaffery cut the question short.
“Whoa, whoa, no,” McCaffery said. “That was the smart thing to do in that situation.”
Prohm also expressed his deep respect for McCaffery, but said his team was ready to shake hands at the end.
“I stopped the coaches,” Prohm said. “I stopped Speraw. I stopped the other assistants and shook hands. We shook hands with who was there.”