AMES, IOWA — Iowa State coach Steve Prohm has been adamant about the need for Jameel McKay to be right for the Cyclones to make a March run.
So his decision Saturday night left many puzzled.
McKay, who was suspended for two games earlier this month for a violation of team rules, returned for Iowa State’s last two games but never entered Saturday’s 92-83 win against TCU despite dressing for action. Prohm said McKay wasn’t suspended, but was vague.
“Coach’s decision, and that’s it,” Prohm said. “No more than that.”
Was he suspended?
“No,” Prohm said. “It’s my decision, that’s it.”
He went on with some prodding.
“He was available to play if I wanted to put him in,” Prohm said. “It’s my decision on what I want to do. It’s no more, no less. Obviously we need Jameel to be great. Everybody in this room knows it. Our team knows it. He’ll be ready to go and our team will be ready to go.”
McKay’s lack of action came off more as suspension than a coach’s decision. Prohm admitted that the Cyclones need their 6-foot-9 center to succeed and yet never played him despite surrendering a season-high 20 offensive rebounds.
Prohm said McKay, who has averaged 11.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in 24 of Iowa State’s 27 games this season, “probably had an idea” he wouldn’t play even before warm-ups Saturday.
McKay wasn’t made available following the game.
“We missed him a lot,” Monte Morris said. “The numbers speak for themselves. They got a lot of offensive rebounds. We really won’t make a big emphasis on that because we know we were missing somebody. It’d be different if Jameel was out there and they still got it.”
Iowa State will need McKay on Monday when it travels to Morgantown, W. Va., to face a West Virginia team that averages 16 offensive rebounds per game.
Will McKay be available?
“No question,” Prohm said.
If he plays is another question.