AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team missed four games in a row in January. One was due to Kansas State’s COVID-19 problems and the other three were due to Iowa State’s own issues.
Now, it’s time to start making those games up.
The Cyclones will play seven games in two weeks, beginning with a game in Fort Worth, Texas, against TCU at 8 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU) that kicks off the opening stretch of four games in one week.
That’s a lot of games in an NBA schedule, let alone a college basketball one.
“We have a lot of games and we need to focus on getting guys healthy, keeping guys as fresh as possible and really focus on cleaning up things in between games as best as possible without overdoing it,” ISU Coach Steve Prohm said. “We’ll have some more mental days and attention-to-detail days. We had a good practice today, now we’re going down to Fort Worth and then after that, it’s really focusing on the scouting report and details.”
Prohm has a loose plan of what he wants practices and travel to look like but, as with everything this season, it’s subject to change.
“It’s like AAU,” guard Tre Jackson said. “Those games are back-to-back-to-back. It’s not the same intensity but it’s the same in playing back-to-back games and being ready at all times.”
The Cyclones (2-11, 0-8) have yet to win a conference game, but Prohm doesn’t want his team to focus on that. He knows that’s how they’re judged and evaluated, but he wants his team to focus on a few specific things that he believes will lead to that elusive win.
“We gave our team two goals,” Prohm said. “Offensively, play with great pace and ball movement and then execute the offense. We had 18 assists against West Virginia and 14 assists against Oklahoma and we missed 45 shots against (Oklahoma). We could’ve had a 20-assist game if we made a few more of those shots.
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“Defensively, we need effort, energy and toughness. Those are the two things we’re focusing on down the stretch.”
Over the last two games, Iowa State began getting its whole team back from COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Both WVU and OU are ranked teams and Iowa State had a chance late in both games to win but was unable to make the necessary plays down the stretch.
Now that they all have at least one game under their collective belt with the full lineup again, Jackson believes it’s only a matter of time before Iowa State turns those close losses into wins.
“It’s great to have everybody back healthy,” Jackson said. “I think you can see that if we had everybody healthy the whole season, maybe it could’ve been different. But we’re looking good, we’re coming together and we’re seeing what we can do.”
Prohm had a saying when the program got hit by COVID-19.
“You don’t pick your trials. They choose you and you have to choose how you respond,” he said.
Iowa State appears to have responded well.
“Obviously we need to break through and win games,” Prohm said. “But what we’ve seen over the last two games is a great connection. You saw people pulling for one another.”