Of course I knew this was possible, but I always held out hope The Mayor would get old and retire in Ames. As a huge Hoiberg-fanboy, I was reluctant to just about every candidate brought up to replace the beloved Mayor. His replacement, Steve Prohm, was no exception.
But, after looking over Prohm’s track record and coaching style, I began to feel more optimistic. He won over 100 games in just 4 years with Murray State, and in that time he led them to an NCAA tournament, and produced multiple NBA talents in point guards, including Isaiah Canaan and most recently, Cameron Payne.
But despite all of his success in the Ohio Valley Conference, the big question is whether or not he can translate that to the big bad Big 12. One can believe that he’ll be able to considering Fred Hoiberg didn’t just leave Prohm with a good team, but he left him a possible Final Four contender and one of the most potent offenses in the country.
So, how will Prohm operate will all of this talent?
During his opening press conference, he made it no secret that he operated an ISU-style game at Murray, and that he even would utilize some of Hoiberg’s schemes. I think the biggest factor will be the use of guard play, specifically Monte Morris.
Monte took big strides in his 2014-15 campaign, and showed his ability not just as a facilitator but as a scorer as well. And under Prohm he’ll only build on that. At Murray, Prohm had the pleasure of coaching two NBA-caliber point guards, and utilized them with a high ball-screen offense (similar to ISU’s), which capitalized on their scoring while also giving them the freedom to distribute. A well-spaced constantly cutting and screening offense (not too different from the style already set in place) paired with one of the best decision-makers in the nation and team full of shooters is a recipe for points. Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne were both shifty in getting to the basket, aggressive in pulling up to shoot, and had excellent basketball IQs. Monte showed some serious confidence as a youngster on the big stage, and with the second half of his college career starting, he may raise his draft stock much like the other two guards under Prohm.
How will teammates fare in this system?
Jameel McKay, who made some big noise in his first year as Cyclone, will also see growth in his game under this system. In recent Instagram videos, McKay has been showing off his work on the three ball. So with that said, Prohm will now have the pleasure of having a lineup full of guys who can pull up from downtown.
Other guards– Naz Long, Hallice Cooke, Matt Thomas, and Deonte Burton will all see success under this system as well. Long, who leads all Cyclone sharpshooters has never hesitated to pull the trigger and with another “player’s coach” in Prohm giving him the green light, he should pick up where left off. Thomas appeared more confident and poised last season scoring double digits 9 times including a big 17-point performance on the road in Texas. As long as Prohm gives him the confidence to fire away like Hoiberg did, then he should only continue to grow. Cooke, who is making his first appearance in cardinal and gold this fall, will be playing for the first time since 2013. Expect to see some rust from Cooke, who was also sidelined last year due to hip surgery. Cooke did shoot a solid 46 percent from deep at Oregon State, and should have no trouble getting his touch back this season. Burton will also be playing for the first time at ISU this fall. Mostly noted for his high-flying ability, Burton also has some touch from the outside. Much like Hoiberg, Prohm’s screens will open up mismatches, and while Burton only stands at 6’4”, he weighs in at a bulky 240 pounds. He will see a great deal of space to shoot 3s, lanes to drive for dunks, and with a much smaller guard on him, he’ll see a great opportunity to show his strength.
Forwards– Georges Niang and Abdel Nader will also fare well. Niang will undoubtedly go down in Cyclone history for his ability to score in unorthodox ways. With that unorthodoxy, he’s an enigma not just to defenders, but to me too, because I have no clue how Prohm will use “the biggest mismatch in college hoops”. Niang can hurt you in a number of ways, and with a similar system in place, I think we will see much of the same– an array of tear drops, flip shots, hooks off the glass inside and set 3’s off the pick and pop. Nader, was a bit of a surprise to some following his stellar opening season at Iowa State. Nader showed touch from the outside, but was more effective in his ability to muscle the ball inside and get to the line. Also, I was pleased with his ability to step up in big games (see: Iowa), and he may be a key player to get the offense going if it’s stagnant, especially with a different coach in place.
The sky’s the limit for this team, and while I am an extremely optimistic Iowa State basketball fanboy, you cannot argue that Prohm’s brand of basketball will keep this team successful. Prom also ran with a smaller line up at Murray State (with the four top scorers being guards or forwards), so I think he’ll pick up where Fred left off in a guard/forward-based system. I’m still concerned that the lack of post defense may hurt this team come tournament time, but Prohm will offer a different look for these Big 12 coaches, and with the amount of scoring ability, this team has the potential to do damage.
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