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BIG 12 CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 14, 2015


Fred Hoiberg

Monte Morris

Abdel Nader

Georges Niang


KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Iowa State ¬Ė 70
Kansas ¬Ė 66


THE MODERATOR:¬† We're ready to begin with the Championship team from Iowa State University, Coach Fred Hoiberg, three student‑athletes tonight, Mont√© Morris, Abdel Nader and Georges Niang.¬† And Coach, as we said yesterday, you know how to make things exciting.¬† Congratulations.¬† And your thoughts on today's Championship?
COACH HOIBERG:  Thank you very much.  It was obviously a tough game; we got off to a tough start.  I attribute the fact that we got back to the hotel at about midnight last night and had to get up.  We brought them over here to try to get them moving and get their legs going.
I thought we went out there with really good energy.¬† I attribute our lack of shot making maybe to having wobbly legs, which tends to happen.¬† I remember playing three in three days back, hell, a long time ago, I'll just say that.¬† But you've got to fight through it.¬† When you've got leaders like we've got, especially guys sitting up here, that can keep your team together ‑‑ and we got down 17 and they were still talking and positive in the huddle and that's a great sign when your guys can stick together through that adversity.
I couldn't be more proud of how we did it, to bounce back after beating Texas on Monté Morris's heroic shot, to beat an extremely talented Oklahoma team and Kansas.
I have so much respect for Bill and the program, and they have won 11 straight.  That's an unbelievable accomplishment.  To get the opportunity to play them for the Championship was great for us and just proud of our guys for finding a way to come out on top.

Q.  Georges, you're down 17 early in the second half.  Did you think you had another run you?
GEORGES NIANG:  Yeah, for sure.  With the guys that we have and the coach that we have, we have no quit in us.  We were all talking about what we had to do and we had to stay positive and push through and I think we did that.  It led us to a great thing in the Big 12 Championship.

Q.¬† For all of you, does having to rally from double‑digit deficits three straight ball games in close ones like this in three days take more out of you physically, emotionally or is it about the six of one, half a dozen of the other?
GEORGES NIANG:  I figured it would take a lot out of you guys.  I think it's all good.  I feel like we're built for this.  We don't want to come back every time, but it just seems to keep happening to us.  When our name gets called, we answer the bell.
I'm not going to say that's who we are, but if that's our emergency button and that's what we have to do, then we're going to have to do it.
ABDEL NADER:  I mean, especially the last couple games we fought through adversity.  We faced it all the time, all year long.  So Coach always talks to us about playing through adversity and staying together as a team and that's what we did tonight.
MONTE MORRIS:  To touch on what Abdel said, we have been down in situations like this before, being down 20 at home to Oklahoma and being able to come back.
We have only been playing a good stretch of 14 to 16 minutes of good basketball and we're just trying to figure out a way to put all 40 into one game and still come out victorious.

Q.¬† This is for Abdel.¬† Selden tied the game with a three‑point play, made it 63‑all, and you guys miss a 3, but then you keep the ball alive.¬† A couple of offensive rebounds and finally you end up getting fouled and hitting the 2.¬† Can you take us through that sequence and keeping the ball alive and how important that felt at the time?
ABDEL NADER:  I knew they were in a zone, so it's easier to offensive rebound all that.  I was on the backside of the defense, kind of snuck in there.  And I just knew if the 3 didn't go down that we had to get a rebound and I stayed with it.

Q.  For all of you guys, what does it mean to beat Kansas on this stage in the final?  And also, can you talk about the fans' support that you had?  They may have outnumbered KU fans.
GEORGES NIANG:  Coach touched on that, what Bill Self has going on over at KU and that whole program, the legacy that's over there is just astounding.  To be able to beat them, especially this year, is utterly the best league in the country is just phenomenal.
The fan support, we have the greatest fans in the country, the way they travel and the way they support and are never down on us and never give up.  A lot of other teams, their fans would have given up on them being down however much we were at halftime.  They stayed with us and we kept them involved and tried to make plays and they ended up helping us in the end.
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, you can go back to the locker room.  Congratulations.

Q.¬† Fred, why did you decide to play‑‑
COACH HOIBERG:  Ask them.

Q.  How was the 5K there; did you guys run it?  Why did you decide to play such an appealing style of basketball to begin with in your career and what goes through your head when you've heard this season how bad the game looks?
COACH HOIBERG:¬† Well, it's just‑‑ it's the style that I know.¬† I guess, coming from my years, I've got more experience, with ten years as a player and one year sitting out after my surgery and four years in a front office, with a 24‑second shot clock.¬† That's the style and the system and the pace we played with in the different organizations that I was fortunate enough to be with.
I'll tell you what, one guy that I think gets a lot of credit for coming in my first year and helping me establish my philosophy is Bobby Lutz who played an up‑tempo style at Charlotte.
And then I look back on my coaches, going Johnny Orr probably has as big an impact on the way we played at Iowa State, really trying to get up and down the floor, playing an exciting brand of basketball, that was great for the fans to watch and we have tried to do that, but at the same time not play out of control.
And tonight I looked, we had six turnovers against a Kansas team that really pressures and we practice it every day.  We practice transition basketball.  If you don't practice it, if you just tell your guys to play fast, you're probably going to be throwing that thing up in the third row.
I guess just from the way that I was raised and played the three years there at Iowa State with Johnny and my years with the great coaches that I played for in the NBA.

Q.  Fred, what I asked Georges earlier, what's the magnitude of beating Kansas on this stage especially with what they have done the regular season, and how can your fans get tickets?
COACH HOIBERG:  That first night against Texas, I'm not sure I'd ever heard a neutral court that loud in favor of one team.  It was just unbelievable how they helped will us to that win even being down 10 with about four minutes to go in that game.
Kansas has unbelievable fans, Allen Fieldhouse is one of my favorite places.¬† When I was playing, we got the hell beat out of us, but it was a fun place because of the history in that building.¬† And the fans, they show up.¬† It's 16‑3 every game, doesn't matter who you're playing.¬†¬†
And our fans are like that as well.  We have fan bases, and I knew tonight would be an exciting atmosphere because in my opinion you've got the two best fan bases in the Big 12 conference and you're basically split right down the middle.  Their fans were great when they were going on runs and our fans were great when we were going on runs.  That's what it's all about when you can have two fan bases like we did tonight.
I think the two teams have great respect for each other.  I know we do and I think they have the same for us.

Q.  Coach, what was with the blowout, piling it on late?
COACH HOIBERG:  Hell, I don't know how to answer that question.

Q.  Fred, how about Bill throwing the zone at you after you get the lead, and I thought it took you guys a couple of possessions to handle it?
COACH HOIBERG:  It did.  I thought they may throw it out there.  We talked about it.  Didn't know if they would go to it, but they threw it out there when we had success getting into the paint.  I'm really excited we got 46 in the paint against that length and against that team.  They slowed us down and I think that was the objective with that.
Out of the 3‑2 zone, we were trying to get it in the middle, shorten the game, get longer possessions and then kinda had to rush‑‑ had a couple of good looks.¬† Abdel had a good look and Naz had a great shot, and then the big offensive rebound in the zone as well that Abdel was able to get.
But it was great coaching by Bill to get us out of our rhythm.

Q.¬† Coach, did it feel like you got production from just about everybody in the lineup at different spots, key rebounds and free‑throws over the course of this game and over the course of the tournament?
COACH HOIBERG:¬† No doubt about it.¬† That was a big thing.¬† I talked to our team about ‑‑ Georges only played 36 minutes tonight, so we got him quite a bit of rest.¬† But we knew we needed those guys to come in and give us great minutes.
I thought Bryce Dejean‑Jones' steal and dunk when he got fouled might have been the play of the game that kind of got the momentum going for us when he tied the score.
And then Nader just continued to attack the basket.  We got him a couple of times isolated on the wing.  He's a really talented kid and it was good to see that come out tonight.
Our bench was awesome.  Matt Thomas is going to have a big role for us in the NCAA Tournament, and I'm confident he's going to knock down a couple of big ones for us.

Q.  Coach, what was your thought when you were down 17 besides here we go again?  Were you confident your team could come back?
COACH HOIBERG:¬† That was tough.¬† When they went up 17 and we called a time‑out, get 'em over there together and challenged them on, all right, guys, what have you got left in the tank, let's leave it out there, let's go down swinging and fighting and whatever happens, happens.¬† Our guys did exactly that.¬† We tried to talk to them about getting it to single digits and then anything can happen and I couldn't be more proud of how they responded in that time‑out.

Q.  Coach, you were in a similar spot in terms of momentum coming out of this tournament.  You had the injury to Georges and everything.  Do you feel like this is another year where maybe you guys have a chance to make a run and do something in the NCAA tournament?
COACH HOIBERG:¬† I hope so.¬† I think there is parity in college basketball this year, outside of Kentucky.¬† If we can get hot and keep the confidence goin', that's, I think, the biggest thing in a three‑day run like this against three great teams is it breeds confidence in your players.¬† They can battle through anything.¬† No lead is insurmountable.¬† And you find a way to battle and bounce back and I think from a confidence standpoint it certainly helps your team.

Q.  Fred, why does Dustin Hogue play with a toothpick?
COACH HOIBERG:  That's probably a question for Dustin.  We'll go one more, that wasn't a good last question.  Let me just say this:  This was a great week for us, for Jamie Pollard, this is a win for him and I know it was a stressful three days, but the end result I think was great for Jamie and his therapy.  He's the best, he's a great guy to work for, a great boss.  And to win this one for him is really a special moment, thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.  Again, congratulations, and we wish you the best next week. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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