College Mens Basketball

Prohm embracing scrutiny at Iowa State

First-year coach drew praise from peers

New Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm stands for a portrait during the men's basketball team media day at the Sukup Basketball Complex in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
New Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm stands for a portrait during the men's basketball team media day at the Sukup Basketball Complex in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

AMES — Steve Prohm isn’t a stranger to the pitfalls and promise that comes with being a college basketball coach.

When it comes down to the single definer of success in Division I basketball, winning trumps all. Prohm knew that as an assistant, as head coach at Murray State and he hasn’t had a change in thought since arriving at Iowa State.

The microscope has always felt intense. But, naturally, Prohm is expecting things to be ratcheted up a notch because of the top-10 team he now coaches.

“This is like Murray State, but at a whole other level,” Prohm said at Big 12 media day last month. “Those people micromanaged everything, too, so I’m used to that part. I know people aren’t going to agree with you all the time, but I think everybody is going to know my heart is right and my best interest is always going to be in these kids.”

Since he replaced Fred Hoiberg as the Cyclones coach in June, Prohm has been adamant about his intention to focus the efforts of the program on the four seniors on the roster.

Prohm’s relationship with players has been give-and-take and built on respect. He hasn’t tried to fix things that aren’t broken — particularly on offense — but has tried to bring fresh ideas to the No. 7-ranked team with Final Four aspirations.

“He’s a really smart basketball mind,” said senior Georges Niang. “We’ll go in and watch games and he’ll have our plays drawn up and he’ll be like, ‘Well, what did you guys call this play and why did you run it?’ I think he’s so good at understanding the offense and putting his stuff mixed with our stuff so we can be successful.”

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That knowledge of identifying ways to improve X’s and O’s has extended to the recruiting trail. Iowa State is expected to sign four players during the mid-year signing period, largely due to the tenacity of Prohm and his staff.

“He’s done a great job of identifying players and helping players,” said Baylor Coach Scott Drew. “He coaches a fun style to watch so there’s no doubt he’s going to be very successful at Iowa State.”

“He’s highly respected for what he’s done at Murray (State) and inherited a really good team at Iowa State,” said Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger. “He’s aware of that and he’ll do great.”

Since moving from a mid-major to high-major program, Prohm has leaned on faith and focus. Humility has given Prohm an avenue to come to Iowa State, he feels, and it’s something he knows will be important to pass along to what is considered one of the best teams in the nation.

“I want to be humble,” Prohm said. “I think the more humble you are, the greater humility you have and the more success is going to come your way.”

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