New Iowa State coach Steve Prohm embraces high expectations
AMES, Iowa (AP) No pressure, coach!
Steve Prohm was introduced as the new coach at Iowa State on Tuesday, taking over a man so beloved in Ames that he was nicknamed ''The Mayor.'' And the roster that Fred Hoiberg left behind before bolting for the Chicago Bulls?
It's expected to compete for a national championship.
Prohm left Murray State on Monday for one of the most unique challenges in all of college basketball. The 40-year-old Prohm is following the enormously popular Fred Hoiberg and inheriting perhaps the most talented roster in school history.
''Someone asked me what attracted me to this job. I'll be honest. The first thing? That team,'' Prohm said. ''It's been a dream of mine to coach at the (high-major) level.''
Prohm is coming off a wildly successful tenure at Murray State, where he won 104 games in just four seasons and emerged as one of the nation's hottest young coaches.
''We all know that Fred left some big shoes to fill. But I feel fully confident that Steve has the personality, and more importantly the skill set, to not only maintain but build on that level of excellence Cyclones fans have come to expect,'' Iowa State President Steven Leath said. ''I am thrilled with this hire.''
While the Cyclones were hopeful that Hoiberg would stay in Ames forever, the idea that Hoiberg might leave for the NBA became a reality for athletic director Jamie Pollard weeks before Hoiberg's actual departure.
That gave Pollard plenty of time to conduct a thorough search for a replacement. Prohm emerged from a pool of seven finalists, including six head coaches and current Iowa State assistant T.J. Otzelberger.
As Pollard addressed the seniors about how similar Prohm's up-tempo offensive style and easygoing demeanor resembled Hoiberg's, star Georges Niang nodded approvingly.
''What made Steve the choice? Fit. He's a family man,'' Pollard said. ''He's grounded. He has an understanding of who he is and who he's not.''
Niang and fellow seniors Jameel McKay, Naz Long and Abdel Nader, along with juniors Monte Morris and Matt Thomas and transfers Hallice Cooke and Deonte Burton, make up one of the deepest and most experienced teams in the Big 12 or any other league.
Iowa State has reached the Sweet Sixteen just three times since 1986. Next season, it is simply an expected step for the Cyclones.
To be at a place that had great coach like Johnny Orr to your last coach, Fred Hoiberg, who everybody (talks) about replacing him. I'm not here to replace him,'' Prohm said. ''I'm here to learn from him and use him as a resource and hopefully benefit from all the success he's had here.''
Prohm seemed to get off on the right foot with his players, looking them directly in the eye for an impromptu pep talk while speaking with reporters. They responded in kind, giving their new coach a standing ovation after he finished his opening remarks.
There will undoubtedly be an extended transition this summer between the players - many of whom remain extremely close to Hoiberg - and their new leader.
Prohm has to find a way to click with a team full of veteran players and proven winners, while also navigating the jump from the Ohio Valley Conference to one of the best conferences in college basketball.
''I know he's going to have his own track record here, just like Fred did,'' Morris said. ''I've seen a few tweets that were like `Who is this guy?' But when you do the numbers, they're similar. They match up. It's the same style of play - and he's a great guy
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