Calm style of Prohm perfect fit for Racers
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 7:00 pm
By COLIN FLY
AP Sports Writer
Steve Prohm is sure he’s turned a few heads during Murray State’s undefeated start.
Not just because the ninth-ranked Racers’ are the only unbeaten men’s team left in Division I, but because the first-time head coach seems surprisingly unflappable.
“A lot of people would’ve thought I’d have been a lot different as a head coach — real animated, yelling, screaming,” he said.
The 37-year-old Prohm says his mentor Billy Kennedy taught him the show should be on the court, not in the coaches’ box. While Prohm, who worked 12 of his first 13 years as an assistant under Kennedy, is unable to keep his sports coat on for more than a few minutes during games, he is content to let his veteran group of players play.
“The players are the show and practice is when you want to get after guys, coach guys,” he said. “In games, they’re out there, just make sure you’re guiding them.”
That’s why Prohm rarely calls timeouts during stretches of poor play and keeps from unnecessarily raising his voice in key moments.
His approach is working to perfection.
“When things get tough, I don’t think they need you yelling and screaming at them. They need a plan. They need ideas. They need calmness. They need to know you’re calm because they’re going to reflect your demeanor most of the time,” Prohm said. “If I’m steady, they’re going to be steady.”
Murray State (23-0, 11-0 Ohio Valley Conference) faces Tennessee State (15-10, 8-4) tonight, and his players say Prohm’s patient approach should put him in contention for national accolades.
“I’d have to give him all the credit,” guard Donte Poole said. “We’re the guys out there playing. He can’t go out there and tie his shoes up and go play, but coach Prohm and the coaching staff do a great job with the game plans and the scouting reports and just having us prepared.
“I would put almost 95 percent of it in his hands. It’s just up to us to execute it, both on the offensive and defensive end because we know what we need to do.”
Prohm’s easygoing demeanor plays against the truth that he’s a self-proclaimed worrier, but he’s taken the Racers’ start in stride. His core group of players that includes Poole and leading scorer Isaiah Canaan already has two regular season conference titles, a victory in the NCAA tournament in 2010 over Vanderbilt and a 77-14 record since 2009-10.
“They’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of togetherness, so I think they can lean on each other,” the coach said.
“It’s about keeping everything in perspective, understanding what’s at stake each night and then having tough-minded kids and we have that.”
The wins keep coming even though the Racers are about to enter their toughest stretch with games against rival Austin Peay on Saturday, a trip to Southeast Missouri State on Wednesday and a BracketBuster game with No. 16 St. Mary’s on Feb. 18.
If the Racers can win the next four, Murray State will match St. Joseph’s start in 2003-04 that was the best since UNLV entered the NCAA tournament undefeated in 1991.
Prohm will keep moving up, too, with four more victories — passing Norman Shepard’s start at North Carolina as a rookie coach in 1923-24. After that, only Indiana State’s Bill Hodges would remain. Hodges began 33-0 as the Sycamores with Larry Bird went to the NCAA finals before losing to Michigan State.
Prohm is well-versed in the history. He’s more excited about what lies ahead in March.
“I’ve been blessed,” Prohm said. “This is a program that wins. It expects championships and this is just one of many special seasons that this program has had and that this program is going to have.”
Published in The Messenger 2.9.12