Two weeks ago, Iowa State coach Steve Prohm flew back with athletics director Jamie Pollard on a private jet from Murray, Kentucky, to Ames, Iowa. All settled in, Prohm is now beginning to look ahead.
The new Iowa State coach joined the Big 12’s summer teleconference Monday morning where he discussed a wide range of topics including his new staff that had been announced shortly before, how he plans to build the Iowa State roster, the new 30-second shot clock in college basketball and more.
Here are news and notes from the teleconference.
1. The Staff is Set
From the first day Prohm arrived on campus in Ames, speculation about who would fill out his coaching staff ran rampant. Who might be retained? Who was coming?
Those questions finally got answers Monday and, in the end, many of the names that had floated around in recent weeks are indeed headed to (or staying) at Iowa State. Prohm’s assistants include Iowa State assistant T.J. Otzelberger, Murray State assistant William Small and Loyola (Chicago) assistant Daniyal Robinson.
The new staff has ties to Iowa State and Prohm. Otzelberger had already been brought back before Fred Hoiberg’s departure and one was of seven finalists for the Iowa State job, Robinson was at Iowa State from 2008-10 and Small’s coaching relationship with Prohm dates back to 2000 at Southeastern Louisiana.
Of course, the success of the staff will be largely graded on wins and losses and thus recruiting. Prohm and Small have strong southern ties and have already extended offers and interest in Tennessee, Otzelberger has extended a number of offers in the Midwest since his April return, primarily in Wisconsin, and Robinson has connections to both the Chicago area and junior college circuit.
“[A strength is] guys who can get good players, guys who have proven to sign very good players [and] guys who have gone on and played in the NBA or are going to play in the NBA here shortly,” Prohm said of the staff. “I think we’re well-rounded from a recruiting base to the south to the Midwest to junior college. Doing that with the right mix of guys from a character standpoint was big to me.”
In addition to his three assistants, Prohm has retained Director of Basketball Operations Micah Byars and has added Neill Berry as Special Assistant to the Head Coach, where he will work on special projects and player development.
2. How will he build Iowa State?
The turnaround of the Iowa State basketball under Fred Hoiberg, which resulted in a school-record four consecutive NCAA tournament bids, came in large part due to Hoiberg’s vision of building a talented roster.
That vision included transfers.
Since that 2010 arrival, the view on transfers has become much more widespread. Blue blood programs take them and the number of transfers available each season has ramped up. So, will Prohm continue the trend in building future rosters?
“I think the way we built our teams at Murray is the same way we want to build our teams here at Iowa State,” Prohm said. “I think it starts with getting really good high school players, the best that you can in the country that fit your program, junior college kids, to recruit them when you have a definite need to where they can step in, because you want any junior college kids you recruit to be able to step in and make an immediate impact and then obviously save a couple scholarships for midyear or the end of the year, one or two scholarships, for transfers.”
Iowa State’s roster in 2014-15 was built that way. The Cyclones have a number of talented high school recruits in Georges Niang, Naz Long, Monte Morris, Matt Thomas and Nick Noskowiak. They have a JUCO athlete in Jameel McKay. And they have a bevy of transfers in Deonte Burton, Abdel Nader and Hallice Cooke.
“That’s how our program was built at Murray, similar to Iowa State,” Prohm said. “So I don’t think there will be much change in that regard.”
3. New Shot Clock Won’t Change Much
The comparisons between Iowa State and Murray State are eerie when it comes to metrics such as pace of play. So overall, the new 30-second shot clock, which will be implemented for the 2015-16 season, isn’t likely to affect the Cyclones.
Nonetheless, Prohm talked about the change Monday.
“I don’t think it’ll affect our team at all individually and the way we coach and the way we want to play,” Prohm said. “If you watched our teams at Murray, we could get a couple shots up in 30 seconds, so I don’t think that’ll be an issue. Sometimes I guess it’ll affect a little bit the pace of play. [There will be] some quicker shots, some teams may not be able to, not necessarily stall, but just ball control a little bit.”
Prohm’s Murray State squad last season was part of the 30-second experiment during its play in the NIT.
“I didn’t really notice much difference playing between 30 and 35 in the tournament last year when we did it,” Prohm said. “It’ll be interesting to see the change and the true effect that it has. Will scoring go up? Will the pace of play increase? Will teams not be able to kind of manipulate or strategize offensively by being a little bit more ball control? That stuff is yet to be determined.”
4. The Big Greek’s Future
Questions remain about the future of big man Georgios Tsalmpouris, who is home in Greece playing in a national tournament. Last week Prohm reached out to Tsalmpouris on Twitter, and Monday he said his future at Iowa State isn’t yet certain.
“That’s up in the air right now,” Prohm said. “We’ve talked. We’ve communicated. I’ve talked to him and his guy over there. It’s just going to be a process that will play out over the next month or so. He’s over in Greece right now competing in championships over there. [He’s] doing well and we’ll just continue to build our relationship over the next couple weeks.”
Iowa State could use Tsalmpouris for depth in 2015-16 after it lost Darien Williams to St. Johns and has thus far come up empty on the transfer market.