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March 17, 2017

Steve Prohm

Naz Mitrou-Long

Monte Morris

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

THE MODERATOR: Joined by the Iowa State student-athletes, Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long. Questions, please.

Q. Monte, Coach said yesterday, which I'm sure he said before about you this season, you're the best point guard in the country. What's your response to that?
MONTE MORRIS: It's an honor, first off, and, you know, without my teammates, none of this recognition is possible on my end. But like I said, it's an honor. I take my hat off to him saying that, you know, it's a pleasure and blessing.

Q. Both you guys, how do you go about stopping a team like Purdue with so much size in the middle? What kind of stuff can you guys do to take away that advantage?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: With their size and their height and their ability, no one person can do that. They've been a force down there all year long. We've been watching them, especially with the Big Ten Network, we were able the see a bunch of their games.

So you know, it's not no one man on our team going to be able to do much. It's a collective effort. That's been our defensive principles since Coach Prohm got here. We definitely have to lean on one another like we have been all year to do our best to help the big fellas down low.

THE MODERATOR: I'll ask both of you, Monte first, is there a difference in styles Big Ten, Big 12?

MONTE MORRIS: I say the Big Ten got so many teams, it's a variety of styles at you. Some teams like to bang in and some teams run. Purdue is more of a post-oriented team. And our defense is going to have to be good, our post defense and rotation. I think Purdue give us more of a slow-it-down pace and play through the post.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: I'd agree with Monte. Having as many teams as they do, they're not able to play everybody twice. There's a lot of different styles there. I definitely say the Big 12 scores a lot more. And we're able to play everybody twice, so we get a little familiar and you can still see the scoreboard the way it is and what it combines for every night, that goes to show we score the ball a lot more than the Big 12.

Two different styles of basketball, but they're both great league, great styles of basketball and we got a lot of respect for the Big Ten.

Q. Monte, just to follow-up, are you the best point guard in the country?

MONTE MORRIS: Definitely.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: I had to get there and say that.

Q. I'm sorry, what did you say?
MONTE MORRIS: Definitely.

Q. You are.

Q. Where does the confidence come from?
MONTE MORRIS: I don't know. It's just something I carry with myself. If you don't believe in yourself or feel like you're the best, why are you playing this game? And I put in the work and overtime this summer, with the guys and every guy on our roster for like we're the best on the court at times. So we just got to carry that swagger so we can play with it.

NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: I definitely feel like he's the best point guard in the country. And the reason I feel that is because you want a point guard who doesn't turn over the ball, who controls the tempo, who scores when you need him to score, locks up when you need him to lock-up and makes everybody better. Not only is that, he's as humble as can be. If he was a cocky individual, I would be honest, I would say I didn't like him, but he's not. He's everything but that, and that's why everybody on our team loves him, including staff, the whole Cyclone Nation and community. He gives respect where respect is due to other opponents and other point guards, but Monte is the best point guard in the country and one of the best point guards, if not the best point guard, to play in the Big 12.

Q. Besides the size obviously when you watch film of Purdue, what stands out to you, what pops off the screen?
MONTE MORRIS: They're big. They're real big, physical. I think we had a lot of that on film with them just being active in gaps and getting a lot of deflections. And I just think they're coached very well by a great coach. That goes a long way, also.

Q. What makes Deonte so good in transition?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: He's just a mismatch nightmare. He's not a big man. He's a guard that just so happens to be playing the 4 for us because he's about 280 and he moves like he's 200. He's a special player to have on your team, and I mean, he can knock it down from the mid-range area, from behind the 3 and he'll go up there and finish against 7-footers, doesn't matter. Not only that, man, we got to give a lot of credit to him because we challenged him at the beginning of the year to be more of an assertive passer. He's taken that upon himself to do that, and he hits guys in the right spot to get some alley-oops. He does it all. That's why he's a great attribute to our team.

Q. Monte, the point guard on the other side, P.J. Thompson, what have you thought of what you've seen?
MONTE MORRIS: He's a solid point guard. He runs the team. He's always playing at a great pace. Got to do my best slowing him down. He can shoot the ball pretty well. I got to be -- pick and choose and be wise when I go gamble and things like that. I know he can definitely make me pay. So tomorrow night we got to play Cyclone basketball and trust the scouting report we have, and hopefully we come out victorius.

Q. Going back to their size for a minute, as guys who will have an opportunity to slash the basket at some point, what goes through your mind when you see 7-2, 290 that might be waiting for you?
NAZARETH MITROU-LONG: You want to get out of their way. You don't want to be in any type situation where you end up on SportsCenter. We got to respect their height and understand they're a presence down low and be smart with the basketball. If we can get in and maybe draw some contact or maybe draw them away from the basket if we're going to the basket, that's awesome, you know. But I mean they're a step in the paint, it's like it three people there. So again we respect their height and the way they use their big men. We got to find ways around it.

THE MODERATOR: Monte, couldn't help but notice the tremendous fan support in this building last night. I'm sure you hope for that tomorrow night. How much a difference can it make at tournament time?

MONTE MORRIS: It can be a -- it can determine the outcome of a game. Honestly, our fans travel in packs and they always been able to travel, Kansas City, they travel for like a home game. And I know tomorrow night it will be more people than it was. We just happy we got the best fans in the country that come out and support us whether we winning or losing. Just shows what type of tradition this school has.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student-athletes? All right. Thanks, guys. Good luck tomorrow night.

Please welcome Iowa State Head Coach, Steve Prohm. Questions, please.

Q. Coach, congratulations. In your wildest dreams, did you think here you'd be that the point with this team just seemingly on, I don't know, cruise control? And is your job actually easier coaching these guys at this level right now because of the chemistry and the way this team has jelled, eight guys team?
COACH PROHM: My dream, I did think we would be here. Dream about it all the time. I pray about it all the time for this team and for our guys all the time. And so in that regard, yes. In the moment at times, no. Because we were struggling at times. You know, sometimes a really good coach I admire and respect, some of the times senior laden teams can be tough to coach at times. And the biggest thing with this team was trying to figure out the best way to play with the losses, with Nader and McKay and trying to play like we were last year, but that wasn't best for this team, and also trying to get everybody to stop being selfish and playing for each other. If we could do that, the end result would be a lot better. Then you're mixing some of your transfers and got to get them to be selfless.

So it's easy coaching right now. You win with great players. We've got the point guards, probably one of the best players ever played at Iowa State, and you've got the winningest senior class with Naz and Matt Thomas and Deonte Burton, who is grown up as any -- as much as any player I've had in my six years as a Head Coach from one year to the next.

And so right now I think they're very easy to coach, very fun to be around, and they really understand what this thing is about.

Q. Steve, how well do you know Matt at all, and when you watch them, what do you think of the coaching job he's done with this team?
COACH PROHM: I know Matt more or less just to say, "Hey, Coach, How are you doing?" See him on the road, speak, say hello. I don't know him very well. Followed him from afar for a long time, you know, Southern Illinois, obviously because I was at Murray, that was close by, and then the job he's done at Purdue I think has been outstanding. He just won a Big Ten Championship. I think they've won 27, 28 games. He's done a really good job there. He's obviously one of the best coaches in the country. We just have two different contrasting styles of basketball that we coach, and everybody does it a little bit different.

He's in the Big Ten. They're physical and tough and big up-front. They play traditional at times. Those two big post guys, start Edwards and play four guards basically with Swanigan and Haas. He's done an outstanding job and obviously lot of respect for him and their program.

Q. Coach, you had said last night, I think after the game, Monte is the best point guard in the country. I just asked him. He agreed with you.
COACH PROHM: He should.

Q. Why do you say that about him?
COACH PROHM: Oh, man. I mean, I could go on. I could talk about him for a long time. I think first and foremost the reason why we're at the level we're at right now over the last six, eight weeks of playing really good basketball is because he's taken his game to another level, and not just on the offensive end but on the defensive end. Taken pride defensively. You look at how many near triple doubles that he's had. Last night he has two rebounds and we're an assist rebound short. Our last couple home games he was an assist shy, rebound shy. There's only 15 in the history of the Big 12. He almost had a second one and third one.

He's our leader. He's great in pick-and-roll. Doesn't turn it over. I can go on and on about why he's the best point guard in the country. All time -- he's going to be the all time assists to turnover ratio leader in the history of college basketball. He's Iowa State's winningest player. Already been to two Sweet 16s, won three Big 12 Tournament Championships. All time assist leader. His character is outstanding. The one thing that exemplifies him the best, he's great with kids. He's great with my son. I appreciate that. Then he sent all the Hy-Vee, local grocery store in town, sent sent water back home. Lot of pride in Flint and the situations they fight back there. That's why I probably was most disappointed about him not being a Bob Cousy Award Finalist. Not about the five people they picked. They missed out on an opportunity to really award somebody extremely, extremely deserving of the award. Will be fun to follow him. He's going to have a long time in the NBA because of his IQ and his ability to be a winner.

Q. You mentioned this, this looks like a very contrasting style, mix of styles between you guys and them. Is that how you see it? And then what do you do to negate or make it difficult for them to utilize their size advantage inside?
COACH PROHM: It is contrasting styles. It is from a standpoint, I guess, of how we try to score. Both teams average right around 80 points a game. Both teams shoot the 3-pointers very well. I think they're 40 percent. I'm not sure exactly where we're at. We do shoot the ball really well. And so from that standpoint, from the numbers statistical standpoint, we're very similar.

We do it different. The biggest thing for us to win this game is we've got to be the tougher team on the defensive end of the floor. Not about offense. We're going to do offense what we do. But can we extend their catches, can we have great ball pressure, can we defend the post and not give easy post touches for Swanigan, Haas, and then can we rebound and finish plays?

Our toughness -- I watched the first half of Vermont's game. The game was close because I thought Vermont played with an edge. I thought they played with great toughness. And that's how we got to play, and we got to have the same mentality we had when we played West Virginia the other day.

Q. Coach Painter mentioned Burton might be the difference. You had mentioned he's kind of grown up since you had him here. He's a unique player just when you look at him, right? He can just do a lot of different things. They joked he was 280. I don't think he's that big.
COACH PROHM: He's 265.

Q. Why is he a potentially tough matchup for teams?
COACH PROHM: Skill level and versatility. Skill level, versatility, and then when he's really locked in, his toughness level and athetisism throws him over. I compare him to the jump Abdel Nader made from his junior to senior year for us last year. He made that jump maybe even more so this year because we had to have him. For us to be great, I told him all the time, you got to max out. We can't be great. That's why sometimes I would -- you put up with some of the -- everybody jokes about shot selection with him and at times, but you put up with some of that because you know you had to continue to work him and coach him because we need him. If we were ever going to max out, he had to be at his best. His ability to shoot the 3. He spent so much time this spring and summer working on his game. His ability to be a mismatch. Want to play really big, obviously we'll have a mismatch with him. Then he's been great in all big games for us. He was huge in the West Virginia game, in the championship game, and he made big plays down the stretch the other day against Nevada.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, how does the gauntlet of the Big 12 and having to go to Allen Fieldhouse and other places, how does that prepare your team for tournament time?

COACH PROHM: It prepares you tremendously because you're going into Allen Fieldhouse, you're going to Morgantown, sell-out crowds, the physicality, the coaching, the guard play in this league is so good. You know, you look at the Big 12, I think we've been the number 1, maybe this year number 2, the last four years, number 1 or 2 in RPI in the country. Right now we're 3-1 in the tournament. We got a couple playing tonight, Kansas and Kansas State. It prepares you very well because it is extremely hard to win on the road. You're going against teams that are extremely well-coached and going against several NBA guys everyday.

Q. Steve, let's assume you don't sleep well tonight. Will it be because you're uptight about Purdue or will it be more nervous, excited anticipation?
COACH PROHM: Just anticipation. Anticipation, just thinking about different things. But not a nervousness or not -- I think we play better, I feel better when I have that -- those -- if you don't have that -- I don't ever think I'm ready if I don't have that little bit of nerves and anticipation jumping through your stomach and your body.

It's a great time of year. We're fortunate to be here. I'm blessed to be here. And if it's sleep, it's just because my room is next door to the weight room in the hotel and they're treadmilling when they drop the weights, I can hear it. Outside of that, I'll get a couple good hours of sleep.

Q. For good reason the conversation about Purdue is about Swanigan and Issac Haas. The complimentary pieces that they have, especially offensively on the perimeter, what have you seen of those guys?
COACH PROHM: If those guys weren't good, they wouldn't be very good because you just help off those guys and you double or you'd sit in the paint on Swanigan and Haas. But with the way Mathias shoots, Carsen Edwards off the bench, we tried to recruit him a little bit when I first got to Ames. You know, with those guys and their other perimeter guys, their ability to make shots, if they had a bunch of non-shooters, their whole team would change. But they all can make shots. That's why they can put so much pressure on you. Are you going to double, can they get it out of the double too quick? Now they get ball reversal 3. If you're not going to double, you got Swanigan and Haas, you got to guard 1-on-1 and you got Edwards kind of a mismatched guy like Burton. It's a lot more than Swanigan and Haas when you really research them and talk to other coaches. You got to defend the 3-point line as well.

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


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