Pollard, Prohm reflect on first year and look ahead at next season

  • Photo

AMES — The weeks following the college basketball season started to add up, but that’s when Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard started to see some changes.

Men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm guided the Cyclones to their fifth-ever Sweet 16 appearance in March after taking over for Fred Hoiberg, who left last June to coach the Chicago Bulls.

Despite the talent on the roster last season with Georges Niang and Monte Morris as its headliners, the pressure of succeeding a hometown hero was always lurking behind Prohm. Pollard could see it all season, but he could also see that shadow go away.

“His personality has just really come out and I think the shadow of coaching Fred Hoiberg’s team, let’s call it what it is,” Pollard said last week. “We all love Fred, but at the same time none of us are Steve Prohm so none of us can say what it must have felt like to be in those shoes.

“It’s clear there was a cloud hanging over him and the Sweet 16 was just kind of turning the page. Now it’s his team and his guys and you can just see he’s got a little more jump in his step and his voice and his confidence.”

With Niang and Abdel Nader taken in last week’s NBA Draft — No. 50 to the Indiana Pacers and No. 58 to the Boston Celtics, respectively — and Jameel McKay’s eligbility exhausted, Iowa State has to replace nearly 45 points and 20 rebounds next season. Niang had 20 points and six rebounds per game on his own and became the second-leading scorer in ISU history.

The Cyclones return Morris, Matt Thomas, Naz Mitrou-Long and Deonte Burton as an experienced core, but Prohm knows his grad transfers, JUCO players and incoming freshmen all have to be ready to get into the mix.

“It’s kind of the next man up,” Prohm said during a Big 12 teleconference Wednesday. “The next man emerges and their role is made bigger and is increased where they get a little more freedom. I go down through different teams and you lose a guy, how do you replace him? The next man stands up.

“Guys like Deonte Burton have to step up and his role’s got to expand. Naz, Monte, Matt Thomas, those four guys, their roles all have to expand and they’ve got to be better. Then the rest of the guys, the new guys, have to step into roles and everybody has to max their job out and we’ll slowly close the gaps of what (Niang) left.”

Tennessee transfer Kasongo expected on campus in July

Iowa State sat with one open scholarship as summer began and was prepared to take it into the fall, but got a commitment from Tennessee transfer Ray Kasongo in mid-June.

Kasongo, who will have three years to play two, must sit out the upcoming season per NCAA transfer rules, but Prohm already has a to-do list for the 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward.

The Toronto native, who averaged 1.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season for the Vols, is expected to arrive in time for the next session of summer classes that begin July 11. Through the sit-out year, Prohm wants to see Kasongo develop an understanding of the ISU system.

“Work on his skill level, get him the weight room, get him bigger and stronger so when he’s eligible he understands post defense and ball screen defense,” Prohm said. “(He must also develop his understanding for) ball screen offense and how we want to play so he can be a presence at the rim and change or effect shots.”

l Comments: montzdylan@gmail.com

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.