Steve Prohm has had a pretty solid first year at Iowa State. He’s led the Cyclones to 21 wins, two wins over top-five teams and, oh yeah, the Cyclones’ second Sweet 16 in three seasons.
This Sweet 16, though, is the first of Prohm’s career.
“Saturday after the game, obviously it was emotional, for me especially and our team,” the 41-year-old Prohm said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence, referring to Iowa State’s 78-61 win over Arkansas-Little Rock. “We’ve been through a lot this year with the coaching change, just learning one another, getting to know each other, trusting each other. We lost some really tough, close games throughout the year.”
Indeed, Iowa State went 5-7 down the stretch, with six of the losses coming to ranked teams. Three losses were by five points or fewer. Two were in overtime.
“This team could have wavered and folded many times, but I think it’s got really, really high character 1 through 13 and they stayed the course,” Prohm said. “Saturday night was really special. Getting back to Ames was great. . . . Guys are excited, but they’ve got more work to do.”
That work includes a date with No. 1 Virginia (26-7) this Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Virginia has knocked off No. 16 Hampton and No. 9 Butler, while Iowa State beat No. 13 Iona and No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock. The Cyclones were fortunate last weekend to avoid Purdue, which coughed up a late lead and lost in double overtime to Arkansas-Little Rock in the first round.
“Well, it’s a great part of March,” Prohm said of the upset-heavy first weekend. “It’s why you just got to keep playing. In March, anything is possible. That’s why it’s an honor to be part of the Sweet 16 because there’s only a few of us left playing. . . . The first two days or first four days are kind of for the underdogs and the great TV and the Cinderella. But most of the time, the Sweet 16 is usually going to have 13 or 14 BCS programs. This year it’s 15 and Gonzaga, which is really another high major.”
Either way, Prohm knows his team is in for a tough test Friday.
“Tony Bennett’s a terrific coach,” Prohm said. “You probably only want to give him a couple hours to prepare if you can. (But having a few days to rest is) great, I think, from our standpoint because we played Saturday. We can take Sunday and Monday off. We don’t play nine, 10 guys. We (have) six (guys who play) extended minutes, so it gives these guys a chance to enjoy what they’ve done so far, get some rest, but now get refocused for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday practice and then our game on Friday. So I think there’s a lot of advantages to it. It gives you more time to really prep and take your time instead of rushing into a game plan. I’m watching tape as we speak right now. You just make sure you’re ready to go come Friday.”