Ladies and gentlemen, basketball is (almost) back.
Today marked the unofficial return to basketball season, as Steve Prohm and company attempted to bring the media and us rabid fans up to speed through Cyclone Basketball Media Day.
Steve Prohm has finally settled into his role as head coach. Literally, his family finally moved to Iowa last week. He is also making this team his own, which he stated by his philosophy and expectations for both his team and his players.
Prohm spoke at length about the importance of defense and how much improvement is needed in that area. In fact, one could say that defense was the topic for a majority of his press conference. Whether its a 3⁄4 court pressure or a half-court zone, expect to see a difference on that end of the floor. Expect the Cyclones to switch screens, pack the paint to contain dribble penetration, and see (hopefully) much better closeouts on perimeter shots.
"We've been great offensively and now we have to make strides to get better defensively."— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneMBB) October 12, 2016
Offensively, expect the Cyclones’ style to be a little different. Dribble penetration and perimeter shooting will take center stage for this team, with less reliance on 1-1 situations and seeking mismatches to exploit.
Additionally, Prohm hinted at the style of play and pace he wants to run with this season. While Iowa State teams have recently been known to push the pace offensively (thanks, Fred), expect a little faster tempo from the Cyclones in 2016-17. The reason for this change has a little to do with the last major talking point from today’s press conference: Versatility.
Iowa State plans to do a little more zone and three-quarter court press this season. Monte Morris said last week they've worked on that.— Alex Halsted (@AlexHalsted) October 12, 2016
The Cyclones should have a deep squad this year, especially at the guard position. This not only creates an opportunity to push the tempo offensively, but allows pressure to be applied, as most players on this roster can guard multiple positions. The aforementioned plethora of guards will also allow the Cyclones to not only push it in transition, but to seek quick shots (transition 3-pointers) due to the amount of shooters on the roster.
Naz Mitrou-Long- 3sus is back. Back again. Tell a friend. He is also healthy, excited, and owning his role as a leader on this team. Expect his role to expand offensively, as Naz will be depended upon to do more than just hoist three pointers.
Monte Morris- According to Prohm, Morris, the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, has used the offseason to get bigger, stronger, and become more of a leader. It has been well noted that he is expected to become more aggressive offensively, but Prohm also hopes to play him less minutes to keep him more aggressive defensively and more able to push the pace offensively.
Prohm wants to limit Morris' court time to around 30-32 minutes. Said it'll keep him healthy and better in the long term. #Cyclones— Ryan Young (@RyanYoung44) October 12, 2016
Matt Thomas- Thomas has had a great offseason (has any player not had a great off-season, like ever?), and will be counted upon to take another step forward. Like Naz, expect his role in the offense to increase (helllllooooo increased usage rate).
Deonte Burton- Seeing an improved and consistent Burton will undoubtedly be the key to a having a successful 16-17 campaign. His role on the team and needed improvement was a hot topic this afternoon. Prohm noted that Burton has grown a lot as a player and leader, soaking up knowledge from Geroges Niang as well as working on his own. By testing the NBA draft waters, Deonte learned that he needed to work on his defense and become more involved/invested in other team aspects.
Prohm said Deonte Burton's made huge strides said he hoped to play a small part. "90 percent of it is him."— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) October 12, 2016
Donovan Jackson- Expect to see Jackson play primarily at the 2 position, as well as backup Monte Morris at the point guard spot. Prohm stated that he was healthy, but there are rumblings that he may not be fully healthy until the winter months.
Nick Weiler-Babb- Here’s a guy who may have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle last year. Weiler-Babb will be called on as a regular player this season. According to Prohm, he can shoot, take guys off the dribble, and get his own shot when needed in addition to being a + defender.
Frontcourt Players- Was it wrong of me to group these guys together? Well, that’s how Prohm discussed them this afternoon. He noted that much emphasis has been put on the trio of Merrill Holden, Darrell Bowie, and Solomon Young. Rebounding, learning the system, and finding their role on offense will be paramount for these three men in the middle.
Prohm says that Holden and Bowie have had good days. Also mentions Young. Top candidates for the 5 spot. #Cyclones— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) October 12, 2016
Babb and Burton drive the bus- I’m not sure what was more surprising, hearing Prohm say he expected Deonte Burton to average a double-double, or Babb being used in the same frame of reference as Naz Long and Matt Thomas...
Prohm on Weiler-Babb: "He may have the best NBA potential." #Cyclones— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) October 12, 2016
Prohm on Deonte Burton: "He should average a double double this year for us to max out."— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) October 12, 2016
Jackson and Morris? Not so fast- Prohm was directly asked about playing two point guards, and didn’t give a straight answer. In fact, he made it sound like Naz would spell Monte from time to time...
Cyclone death lineup?- Travis Hines continually asked about playing small ball with Burton at the 5, and Prohm didn’t say no. In fact, it sounded as if he liked the potential pace/match-ups that lineup provides. Lets just not think about the defense/rebounding we’d get with that grouping of players...
Prohm said that at times Iowa State will go with four guards and Deonte Burton at the 5. They ran that set for the first time yesterday.— Alex Halsted (@AlexHalsted) October 12, 2016
Brace yourselves for the return of Hoiball- Just kidding. Wait, am I? Prohm did say that the dribble-drive and kick to shooters, as well as baskets in early transition, would be the meat and potatoes of the Cyclones’ offensive philosophy...
Not one trick ponies- Steve Prohm may have a stable of shooters, but it sounds like they are going to be tasked with much larger roles in the offense than just being spot-up shooters. He specifically mentioned Long, Thomas, and Babb running pick & roll, getting to the hoop, and benefiting from being the focus of other types of offensive sets...
STU TO BE PLAYER/COACH/HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT- Wait never mind, this is just wishful thinking.