AMES — Head coach Steve Prohm met individually with each member of the Iowa State men’s basketball team Thursday.
They were meetings to encourage the players as the Cyclones enter the second half of their Big 12 Conference schedule, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday against Kansas State (9-13, 2-7) at Hilton Coliseum (ESPN2).
“They were good,” Prohm said of the meetings. “Some were better than others but all of them were positive from the standpoint of they understand that we have to be better, they understand what’s at stake and the mistakes that we make and understanding that we have to be better than that.”
The Cyclones are just 9-13 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12.
“I just wanted them to understand that whatever our record is and it doesn’t define me and it shouldn’t define you by the way we carry ourselves and handle ourselves and by the way we represent this school,” Prohm said. “It can change quickly — we’ve shown that before in the past.”
In the 2015-16 season, Iowa State started conference play just 1-3 before finishing 10-8. But this season seems to be much more like 2017-18, when the Cyclones lost their first four Big 12 games and ended with a record of 4-14.
Really, all Prohm wants to see is improvement — much like how West Virginia improved at the end of last season. The Mountaineers finished with a conference record of 4-14 last season but they went 2-2 over the last four regular-season games and won two games in the Big 12 tournament. One of the wins in the conference tournament was against then-No. 7 Texas Tech, which went on to play in the national championship game.
This season, after a strong finish to 2018-19, West Virginia is a top-15 team in the country.
“What they did last year is they finished really well down the stretch — they beat Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament,” Prohm said. “That’s the approach we need to take and that’s how I challenged them.”
Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton is on board.
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“I would hope the last half of the (conference) schedule is very significant to everybody,” Haliburton said. “I would hope the games before this were significant to everybody.
“It’s a grind and a battle of a league. We’re on the second half of the Big 12 schedule and the best part of the first half is that it’s over with and we can move on.”
For Haliburton, success in the final nine regular-season games comes down to confidence.
“(Auburn coach) Bruce Pearl had a quote that sticks with me,” Haliburton said. “He said, ‘If you turn his (Haliburton’s) water off, he turns everybody else’s water on.’ Which is true, but that might be a problem with myself because I’m allowing them to turn my water off.
“I need to start playing with as much confidence as possible because we don’t have much to lose at this point. I’m going to play with as much confidence as I can and give my teammates and university everything I have for the rest of the year.”
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