Coach Steve Prohm has Iowa State back near top of Big 12
AMES, Iowa (AP) Former coach Fred Hoiberg raised the expectation level at Iowa State exponentially before leaving for the NBA.
His replacement, second-year coach Steve Prohm, has managed to keep the Cyclones winning despite a slew of adversity.
Iowa State (14-8, 6-4 Big 12) thrust itself back into the league title conversation by stunning then-No. 3 Kansas 92-89 in overtime on Saturday, snapping the Jayhawks' 51-game home winning streak with its first victory in Allen Fieldhouse in 12 years.
The Cyclones did so despite a front-court disadvantage so stark that at one point Kansas was outrebounding them 17-1. Prohm found a way to get his team to rally from a 15-point deficit for a much-needed, high-profile win. Iowa State travels to face Texas on Tuesday.
''What I tried to preach to our guys (Sunday) was, what are we going to do to build off this?'' Prohm said. ''I hope that's not our moment. I hope there's a lot more moments that we have this year.''
Last season, Prohm led Iowa State to the Sweet Sixteen despite losing guard Naz Mitrou-Long to hip injuries, which depleted an already thin rotation for a team playing in a league that, much like this season, doesn't offer any nights off.
This year, the Cyclones are seriously lacking in the post even though Prohm had planned for the loss of last season's entire starting front court. He recruited highly touted Emmanuel Malou and Cameron Lard. Malou decided to back out of his commitment in the spring and instead make himself available in the NBA draft, while Lard missed the fall semester to get his grades in order.
Prohm tried to make the best of it by bringing in fifth-year graduate transfers Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. Both players have been inconsistent at best, and while freshman Solomon Young has shown promise, he's still got some developing to do.
''We're not really an inside-out group. I mean, we can throw it in there but it's going to come out eventually. It's just not the makeup of this team,'' Prohm said.
Yet Prohm has adjusted. The Cyclones are tied for third in arguably the nation's toughest conference despite ranking last in the Big 12 in rebounds allowed per game. Iowa State's defense is as good as it has been in years, and it leads the conference with 211 3-pointers. The Cyclones have also been resilient, rallying twice from double-digit deficits to win on the road in league play.
''It just shows that we're willing to fight,'' said senior Deonte Burton. ''We weather through the storm.''
Perhaps the most impressive thing Prohm has done this season is get the best out of Burton. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Burton is one of the most unique players in the country - but he can also be inconsistent. He is having by far the best season of his career, averaging 14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Burton was brilliant in the win over the Jayhawks, scoring 29 points with eight rebounds and six steals.
''He's matured. He's grown,'' Prohm said. ''The biggest thing you have to do with him is stay in the moment. You can't take away his individual talent.''
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