AMES, IOWA — Steve Prohm was introduced as the 20th men’s basketball coach in Iowa State history Tuesday and talked about a range of topics.
Prohm, 40, discussed the construction of his new staff, the scholarships remaining for the 2015-16 season, recruiting longterm, his defensive philosophy and his early conversations with Fred Hoiberg. Here are five takeaways to get up to speed.
1. Prohm Taking Staff Construction Slow
Steve Prohm’s first priority at Iowa State is getting to know the players, and for the remainder of his first week at the Sukup Basketball Complex, his time will be spent doing just that with individual meetings.
Priority No. 2? Aligning a new staff.
“There’s not a rush on my part because I understand this is a tough profession,” Prohm said Tuesday. “These guys here have done an amazing job. Coach [Fred] Hoiberg just had an unbelievable opportunity, so I need to be very respectful to them but also to the guys that worked for me. So it’ll just be a process.”
Iowa State assistants still under contract for another season include T.J. Otzelberger, Charlie Henry and Cornell Man. Henry has been speculated to be headed to Chicago with Hoiberg while Otzelberger was one of seven finalists for the Iowa State job. It remains to be seen who might be interested in staying.
Meanwhile at Murray State, multiple national reports point to Matt McMahon getting that job, which would potentially make Prohm’s previous staff available for hire. Murray State assistant William Small has been speculated to be a potential candidate for Prohm's staff at Iowa State.
“I want them to be well rounded,” Prohm said of his potential assistants. “Have them be able to coach on the floor, be able to scout, recruit and be able to recruit the top junior college kids, top high school kids and want to always have their hands on some transfers.”
In terms of recruiting territories, Prohm will keep that in mind too.
“I’ve got a pretty good feel for the south,” Prohm said. “From a junior college standpoint it will be important I think and also some Midwest because of Milwaukee, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis. Those are all between three to six hours [from Ames].”
2. Two Remaining Scholarships for 2015-16
Prior to the departure of Fred Hoiberg to Chicago, Iowa State had been involved during the initial weeks this offseason in several forward transfers.
In the end, all big man transfers Iowa State showed interest in went elsewhere, including Michigan transfer Max Bielfeldt who was likely to commit to the Cylones had Hoiberg stayed. As the summer now arrives, it does so with two open scholarships for the coming 2015-16 season and with interest from Prohm in potentially adding to the roster.
“We’ve got two [scholarships] right now,” Prohm said. “I think once we sit down we’ve just got to look at that and evaluate that. It’s something that possibly could happen. I’d probably like to [fill one if] there are some transfers out there that we could get involved with right now. Or maybe a big or maybe even another guard.”
First, Prohm needs to get to know his team.
“I just really need to get a feel for these guys in the next couple days, look at them and see what we have and what exactly we may need if we need to get somebody to play that’s eligible right away,” Prohm said.
3. Prohm Talks Recruiting
While Iowa State’s 2015-16 roster is primarily set (barring a last-minute transfer), the roster for 2016-17 and beyond is far from settled.
The Cyclones will need to immediately hit the recruiting trail in the coming weeks with the July recruiting period starting and as many as a handful of scholarship openings in Prohm’s second season at the helm.
“Next week once we get our staff pieced together then we’ll get off and running on that,” Prohm said of recruiting. “Obviously 2016 and 2017 are going to be big classes for us. But ironically there are a couple people who text you who say, ‘Iowa State has been recruiting me, hopefully you’ll still continue to recruit us.’ I’ll sit down and we’ll look at that and we’ll get off and running.”
Iowa State was a top-6 finalist for four-star forward Tyler Cook, and the big man told AllCyclones.com prior to Prohm's hiring that he was unsure if the Cyclones would remain in consideration down the road. Five-star Miles Bridges included Iowa State among his top-8 on Tuesday.
“Obviously you may be a little behind in certain situations, but you understand that and you just make up for it,” Prohm said. “Just because you have four, five, six scholarships or whatever it could be, you still have to make great decisions and make sure you get guys who fit what you want.”
4. Defense Could Be the Next Step
While much has been made about Iowa State’s style with Prohm at the helm, there is no need to worry. Prohm will run a nearly identical style of offense.
As for defense, Prohm said that will largely be similar too, but the new Iowa State coach feels defensive improvement could be the key to taking the next big leap.
“We’re not a team that’s going to press and run and jump a ton,” Prohm said. “We may play a little bit here and there situational, but we want to play halfcourt, tough-nosed man-to-man, get into some passing lanes, really good ball pressure. We want to be really tough-mined in the halfcourt.
“They know if we want to continue to take another step let’s get better defensively, let’s get better rebounding and let’s continue playing offensively the same way.”
Senior forward Georges Niang has already bought in.
“I’m glad the styles are pretty similar so it’s not going to be too much of a change,” Niang said. “I think the biggest thing for us is that he’s going to push us defensively and that’s the next thing we need to take a step in the right direction to be great.”
5. Hoiberg Reaches Out to Prohm
Before Prohm’s first day as Iowa State’s head coach came to an end Monday, his predecessor had already reached out.
Back in Chicago, Hoiberg spoke on the phone briefly with Prohm, and texted him to let him know he knew of a house for sale north of Ames (hint: it’s Hoiberg’s). Prohm said he plans to lean on Hoiberg for guidance about the roster and planned to speak with him again Tuesday night.
“You can’t even think in terms of trying to replace him,” Prohm said. “He’s a high school legend here, he’s a college legend and he was a good NBA player. Then he came back here and he just brought a new excitement to a high, high level here. What you do is you don’t try to replace him, you just try to use him as a great resource to help you continue to build this program and that’s what I’m going to do.”