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March 15, 2017

Steve Prohn

Nazareth Mitrou-Long

Monte Morris

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

THE MODERATOR: We have Iowa State student-athletes, Monte Morris and Naz Long. Questions, please.

Q. Monte, lot of guys from Milwaukee on this team, but you're a Flint guy, great basketball lineage here. Obviously, the nation is looking for you to throw this team on your back. Can you just talk about your mindset going into this, knowing you're on that 5 line and you got a very good 12 team coming at you tomorrow night?
MONTE MORRIS: The 5/12 line is always a line where they say that's where the upsets happen. Totally we got to stay focused. We know we're in Milwaukee, but the guys are locked in that's from here and just ready to play good for their homecoming. We also got to play good to help them.

As putting the team on my back, it's not about that. It's about going out and playing the right way. I got a great group of seniors with me who also playing for something. It's not just me. It's a collective group effort. It just starts my energy and it twinkles down to Naz, Matt, Deante, how we approach the game. If we come locked in, we should be fine.

Q. Naz, I'll ask you just your mood and the mood of the team as you approach this matchup?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: We're excited. We're very excited. It's a blessing to be here. You know, not many people can say that they've been at a tournament every year they've been at a school. We both can. So, you know, we're excited, man. We have a great opponent tomorrow that we got a lot of respect for. But we're playing the best basketball we're playing all year. We've looking forward to getting it going in the Big Dance.

Q. If each of you can address this, just playing in the tough conference that you do, how do you think that has prepared you for what you're going to face in this tournament? Naz first, please.
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: I definitely think that's a big factor, if not the biggest. Our preparation all year as far as playing against the best in the country is definitely what gets us prepared to play against other teams from different conferences that are ready to go head-to-head and do whatever it takes to become a national champion.

Playing in the Big 12 is definitely to our benefit. We play everybody twice. We get definitely a lot of different scouting reports thrown at us being the focal points. We're ready to go, man. We've seen the best, played against the best, and now we're ready to do the same thing here in The Dance.

MONTE MORRIS: Getting the different styles every night from the Big 12 is great for us and playing different types of players on different teams, they can bring you speed one night, just versatility, and just a balanced type of guy you might guard one night. When we play different teams in a tournament from different conferences, it definitely give us the edge because it's not a cakewalk in the Big 12. Not one game we played, you know, just a blowout or boring game. Every game was electrifying and we had to bring it.

Now we switch gears and play different teams in conference -- in a different conference. It's not going to be easier, but we've seen the best of the best. We've got to come focused and come with a good game plan.

Q. Both of you, if you could both talk about what are your concerns with a team like Nevada?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: You know, lot of people come into the tournament with a mindset that they're going to win just because they're a higher seed. We've been in that situation in the past. But definitely been through our experiences and so forth. Playing against Nevada is something that we're not taking lightly by any means. We've watched a lot of film on them as if we were playing them in conference.

We know what we're capable of. They didn't win their conference or have the record they had by fluke or accident. They have a great coaching staff. So, you know just keeping a even-keel mindset, approaching them as if they're the best team we've ever played and just understand that they're capable and they're here for a reason.

MONTE MORRIS: Yeah. Just not overlooking Nevada. In our previous year, sophomore year, his junior year, we kind of looked over UAB and thought we would just win because we were the higher seed as a 14 seed. But God does things for a reason and just let's you know you got to keep the same mentality no matter who you play at this level because everybody is good, nobody is here by fluke.

Knowing that, we gain knowledge, wisdom, and going to take that experience with us through the whole tournament.

Q. For both of you guys, you have one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation. Nevada is one of the best at defending the 3. What do you notice about how they go about trying to slow down the opposition's 3-point shooting and why they've succeeded in that department this year?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: They have a lot of lanky guys, very determined, jumping at 3-point threats that they've played throughout the year. So we got to credit them to their urgency on running guys off the line.

With that being said, you know, I think we have a good amount of 3-point shooters. They're not only just 3-point shooters, we're versatile. So we can make adjustments as much as they're going to have to make adjustments to the bunch of threats we have. You've got to give them credit for the way they run guys off the line and make them change their game plan.

Q. Monte, a lot of people have gone up there and said you're the best point guard in basketball history. Has your career exceeded thus far what you thought were you going to do at Ohio State?
MONTE MORRIS: I came first for education and secondly to try to play good basketball and be remembered there and play with a great group of guys. And my career this far has been amazing, you know. I honestly can't -- haven't been able to keep up with what I've been doing.

I'm just extremely blessed and just have a great opportunity in front of me to play with these guys. I'm just happy right now, and I worry about my career and things after my senior year. And I can look back with remembrance. Right now I'm happy I'm in this moment and just soaking it all in.

Q. Both you guys, you talked about playing lot of different styles of play in the Big 12. When you look at this Nevada team on film, is there a team they remind you of or maybe another team you guys played this season? For both you guys.
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: I wouldn't really say that. They're just versatile. If anything, you know, if we played against Iowa State, that's the team I would say they remind me of. They're very similar to us as far as having guys that can do different things, their 4-man shoots the ball really well. They have extremely talented guards. And, you know, that's kind of how we feel about ourselves. That's the team that I'd say is very similar to.

That's why it's going to be an interesting matchup tomorrow night. And the team that executes and plays the hardest is the team that's going to end up winning.

Q. If you both could answer this. I think it's human nature, you would agree, to go ahead and look at brackets and maybe fill them out yourself and have a little fun with that. You're going to have 80 percent of the fan base here. You're favored. I guess the idea would be if you don't get to Kansas City, a place obviously, where you guys have done really well, it would be a disappointment.
Does that give you added pressure? I know you say you take it a game at a time. At the same time, the expectations are that you get back to Kansas City and play potentially Kansas. Can you talk about how you may be block that out, or have you kind of processed that in your mind?

MONTE MORRIS: Like at the Big 12 Tournament, we knew it was three games total to win the championships and we know now you got to win two to get back to Kansas City. We're going to treat every possession one by one and just knock down 20 minutes by 20 minutes, media by media, and grind it out.

Everyone knows they say they don't look ahead, but you know what's ahead of you, but you got to stay in the moment. And whichever team stays in the moment, I feel will be successful. And not looking forward to Purdue or Vermont, that's the route we have to take.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: Having, like you said you think 80 percent of the people out there is going to be Cyclone Nation. Having them behind us is everything to us, but that doesn't rely any pressure. Win or lose, they know we're going out there to play every possession for them. You know, we're leaving it all out on the floor. And we've been playing this game our whole lives. Everybody in that Iowa State locker room has been underdogs their whole lives. I know we're favored, but I don't remember the last game that the Nation really believed we're going to win those games. That goes back to playing in the field house.

So we're just looking to the guys to our left and right and the people that really support us. And we're going to go out there and give everything for them. There's no will real pressure, man. We've played basketball every single day. Just going to go out there and give it our all and try to get a W.

Q. For both you guys again. Because you're saying that Nevada looks like a team very similar to your own, where do you see the ways in which you guys need to play well in order to win this game? Both you guys, if you don't mind.
MONTE MORRIS: I think just standing gaps, being gap conscious, not giving up a lot of inside paint points and contesting shots. Marshall, he could shoot the ball really well. And Caroline can shoot it good and Oliver. So, we just got to contest, you know, contest, contest, and make the shots. They're going to give up some and make a few. You got to make it tough and make sure it's not rhythm shots.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: Just like he said, you know, just make it tough, make sure they're not in rhythm. And again, if we're similar as we think that we are, the team that executes the game plan the best is the team that's going to come out with a W. That's just all we got to do, man, play the basketball that we've been playing, that's Iowa State basketball and it's the best we've been playing all year. Hopefully, the momentum continues into The Dance.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Guys, thank you. Good luck tomorrow night.

Steve Prohm is with us. Questions, please.

Q. I know this is your second year at Iowa State, but there's a long history of players coming out of Milwaukee and having success at the school both current and in the past. How much has that meant to the program and how important are those guys this year to your guys' success?
COACH PROHM: I think it's huge. Obviously, this program has had a lot of success here. We were just talking about Diante Garrett. A minute ago I was talking to Randy Peterson out there. TJ Otzelberger, the Head Coach at South Dakota State. He's from here and long-time assistant here. We've got three guys, Donovan Jackson, Darrell Bowie, Deonte Burton who have had big, big success. Deonte and Darrell being seniors. Donovan a junior. And so the pipeline has been very good and so hopefully we continue that.

We actually signed a kid, Terrence Lewis, from this city this year. And so it's something we can hopefully continue. The city has been very good for us recruiting-wise. Hopefully, it's very good for us the next couple days playing-wise as well. It's great to be in a location where their families can come and our fans can come.

Q. Coach, that being said, just talked to both Naz and Monte, and that is, your fan base is amazing. The ride up here, they're here already, probably 75 percent of the people. The Milwaukee kids, everyone admits they're looking ahead, they're human beings, college kids. How do you keep them in the moment when there's a history of UAB, and you see across the way, Middle Tennessee State picking off Michigan? How do you do that as a coach to get them to respond to that?
COACH PROHM: The biggest word I use a ton with them is humility. You stay humble. I've been on the other side coming from a Mid-Major for a long time as an assistant and the Head Coach. We've beaten teams in the past and advanced in the post-season in the tournament. I think humility. You keep them humble. I don't talk about that -- one time I talked about it last week and that's it. It's not something you keep beating them over the head with. They understand.

I've got great experience with seniors that understand what it takes to win this time of year. I think the focus of this team is a lot different. I think that they're totally tuned in to what we need to do and then we got to go play. I heard Monte -- I like to always go back and listen to hear what our guys are saying. The one thing he says, you stay in the moment and focus on the moment. You stay humble, you stay focused, and that's all we're talking about is Nevada. They're very good. We've got a ton of respect for them. They got a couple -- obviously they got several high major players on that team and a great coach, lot of NBA pedigrees there. If they didn't have all that, they wouldn't be 28-6.

We'll be ready to go, but obviously being in Milwaukee helps. This fan base, I've said it since I got here, there's probably not -- you can't probably name five, ten that are legitimately better when you talk about the way they travel, the way they come in. Every single night, whether we're playing Citadel, St. Mary's, Kansas, West Virginia, you're going to get 14,400 every night, and that's unheard of really when you really look around and put on the TV every night.

Q. When you look at film of them, they hold their opposing team to like 30 percent shooting from 3. Obviously 3-pointers are a big part of your game. What do you see on film? Why are they so successful in defending the 3 and how do you work against that tomorrow?
COACH PROHM: Their numbers are good defensively. Their numbers are good offensively. That's why they're 28-6. Very good offensive players. I think Dre really helps them defensively, very, very active, very long deflections. And I think their team prides themselves on that getting deflections, being in gaps, you know, trying to get their hands on balls, running at the guards sometimes to make -- you have to make plays.

So the biggest thing with the way we play is, you know, we're fortunate we've got guys who can make shots. We want to spread you out. Spread you out, make the extra pass. Not take quick bad shots. I think tomorrow's slot selection is going to be key. You got a lot of people who can make shots on the floor. Are you taking good shots or bad shots? Shot selection will be key. They're very good. They're a good team and we're looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned on your teleconference Cam Oliver is kind of the difference between two teams. What are his strengths, what do you guys need to do against them and the special abilities he brings to the court?
COACH PROHM: They were asking me the other day what are the similarities. We are very similar, I think, in the way we play. Both coaches give the teams a lot of freedom. You got guys who can make shots. Got two successful teams. But we have versatile 4 men, got good play. Our 5 men and their 5 man in Oliver is a stretch 5. The ball screen with Oliver is going to be a key to the game tomorrow and how to utilize him and him going inside out.

So, we've got to do a great job on ball screens. We have to have great ball pressure on him when he catches on the perimeter and make sure you contest every shot and when he doesn't shoot. You got to do a good job of closing out under control so he doesn't drive by you. We got to be able to get help when you need it. You can't overhelp because you got Caroline going to the glass every time. He's the toughness and glue to their team. Oliver is a tough matchup. He's one of the couple major keys.

Q. Obviously the rebounding number is favorable for them. Coach Musselman said he didn't put much stock into it because of the conference you play in them. How have you felt about your rebounding ability this season?
COACH PROHM: Somehow we've been able to win games. We've been out rebounding 18, 19. The one Naz has done, they're plus 14 on the glass. That's been a point of emphasis with our guys the last couple of days. When we got Solomon into the lineup whenever it was after the Texas game, I think we became a better rebounding team right away. He provides us a presence up there, whether it's blocking shots, boxing out, being physical, a physicality that he provides up-front. And so shot goes up, I think he helps us rebounding-wise.

The biggest step the other night against West Virginia, I think we were right, you know, even or minus 2 free throws. We outrebounded West Virginia that was huge for us. We've done a better job over the last couple weeks rebounding because we had some stretches during the year. Now we give up 18, 19, 20 offensive rebounds, get outrebounded. I think at home against Baylor we got outrebounded by 18 to 20 but still won. We've got an elite point guard and our assist to turnover ratio is pretty good.

THE MODERATOR: What are the challenges of playing in the last game of the day and do you want your kids watching other games or how do you handle it?

COACH PROHM: Yeah. The 9:00 start is the last one, so it makes it for a long day. I think we played the first game the other day in the tournament, that first to start the tournament in the Big 12. You know, we get up, eat breakfast, go shoot around. Come over here and shoot because we have a long day, which we normally we wouldn't do. Then we'll go walk-thru and then I let the guys watch games, enjoy the tournament. Get the feel. Once you walk over here, you got Purdue and Vermont going on and the energy going, you got the crowd, it doesn't matter if it's 9:00, 2:00, 1:00 in the morning. We'll be ready to go.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach? Thank you. Good luck tomorrow night.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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