Cyclones kick off season against Colorado

Head Coach Steve Prohm talks to senior Jameel McKay during an exhibition basketball game against the Grand Valley State Lakers. The Cyclones would go on to win 106-60.

Ryan Young

After months of waiting, basketball season is officially here.

No. 7 Iowa State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) will travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., to take on Colorado (0-0, 0-0 Pac 12) for its season opener Friday, and first-year ISU coach Steve Prohm couldn’t be more ready.

“I’m excited; every year you’re excited,” Prohm said. “Every year has it’s own stories and it’s own special moments. I’m ready to get it going, I’m looking forward to it. Once the ball is thrown up Friday, man, it’s about playing and winning.”

For the past few seasons, the Cyclones have opened up their seasons against smaller, mid-major schools, a common practice for most Division I programs.

But opening up against the Buffaloes, a Pacific 12 Conference team, isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Cyclones. Senior Georges Niang thinks it can help them in the long run, too.

“You want to prep your first game as probably your best,” Niang said. “Whether it was a low-major school or someone outside the Power Five [conferences]. We’re all excited to finally get out there and play someone else, and the fact that it’s a better school probably means it’s better for us.”

The game will take place on a neutral site between the two schools: the Stanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. The game was set there to give people in the area a chance to see a game, as well as provide another opportunity for Iowa State and Colorado to play a game on national television.

The arena, though, only holds 3,200 people, which is significantly smaller than the arenas the Cyclones are used to. While it may seem different, players say the size shouldn’t make a difference. It’s the atmosphere they’re looking forward to experiencing.

“I may feel more at home because it’s a smaller gym,” Prohm said. “That’s probably what I’m used to from the league I came from, but it’ll be a great atmosphere. And [the players] are used to playing in great atmospheres, so I think that’ll help a lot.”

Colorado will prove to be challenging to guard on the inside, thanks largely to big man Josh Scott. Last season, the 6-foot-10-inch forward averaged 14.5 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting a team-high 54.4 percent from the field.

Niang said he believes center Jameel McKay will guard Scott on defense, but it will take a team effort to contain him along with the rest of the Buffaloes. He also knows that Scott and others will hit shots, and it’s how the Cyclones react to it that matters.

“Guys at this level are going to make shots on you,” Niang said. “You can’t put your head down and get frustrated. You just have to live with it and try to score on offense. If someone scores on us, we’re going to try to score twice.”

Since his arrival, Prohm has preached defense, saying that it’s the biggest thing this team needs to work on.

And while he said it has improved so far, Prohm still noted how important it would be to defend the ball inside against the Buffaloes.

“We have to do a great job keeping it out of the post and when it gets into the post to get it out of there,” Prohm said. “When a shot goes up, we have to rebound. We have to defend inside out against them.”

But in reality, it doesn’t matter who or where the Cyclones play Friday.

They’re just ready to get back out on to the court and get the season started.

“I’m ready to show everybody what I’ve been working on this offseason, both defensively and offensively,” said point guard Monté Morris. “I feel like me and my teammates are going to have a good year.”