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March 16, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Iowa State student-athletes.
We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Monte, what about A.J. English really stands out to you? How will you have to defend him?
MONTE MORRIS: His confidence that he plays with out there. On film, he takes some tough shots. He's capable of making some tough shots. We as a unit going to have to slow him down and make it tough on him all night.
Q. Monte, how healthy are you right now? A lot of people have been concerned about your health.
MONTE MORRIS: My health is at an all-time high right now. I have my legs back under me. For one, I feel a hundred percent of my legs and my shoulder. It's coming along great. I was able to get a lot of shots today. I was efficient on the shots I took today. I'm back smiling. Everything is getting better day-to-day.
Q. How did the shoulder affect you in the Big 12 tournament?
MONTE MORRIS: You know, it's more than just about me. My teammates stuck with me and picked me up when they knew I was down. I struggled there playing through a lot of pain. I'm willing to do that, sacrifice for my teammates.
Q. The first weekend, most fans in this arena are cheering for Cinderella. Why can that be tough for an accomplished team like your team, and how do you relax and enjoy the moment?
GEORGES NIANG: I think the biggest thing is you have to have focus. You can't lack any focus in games like this.
We've had some time off since we played our last game. There are times for lulls. But you have to have 100% focus on what you're doing, their tendencies. Really just to overcome all that and come out with a win.
I think that's the biggest thing is you have to have 100% focus. You can't lack focus at any time during the game.
Cinderella teams do happen and we'd be the first to tell you that.
MONTE MORRIS: Georges said it all, stay focused, take care on Iona, don't look ahead, try to get the job done tomorrow.
Q. I don't know how much you look at the national media stuff, but the 13 over 4, Iona over you guys, a trendy upset pick. Is that something you use for motivation or do you try to shut all that out?
GEORGES NIANG: I mean, people are allowed to have their opinions. I mean, we know what we think in our circle, and that's really all that matters.
I think this group of guys, we're really just hitting our peak and I think we're extremely locked in. I think that's a great thing for us going into March.
Q. Georges, how much have you talked about last year? How much has that affected your focus?
GEORGES NIANG: I don't think we can even run from last year. I feel like people are constantly reminding us, even if I just want to watch cartoons on TV, I think that pops up.
The biggest thing is we remember the pain of last year. I don't think focus is going to be lacked this game. We're taking these guys extremely seriously, really locking into their tendencies, really not taking anything lightly. It's a one-game deal. You mess up, you're out.
Q. So much has been made of the Big 12 this year, how strong the conference was. How do you think conference play prepared you for this post-season tournament?
MONTE MORRIS: I think conference play prepared us well for this opportunity that we got tomorrow just because the lower half of the league, you know, we split with everybody. A lot of people split with each other.
I just think it prepares you. You have to bring it every night no matter who you playing in the Big 12. We got seven teams in the tournament. That speaks volumes about the conference alone.
GEORGES NIANG: Yeah, I would just say it helps us become battle-tested playing in the Big 12. We've seen the best of the best. The lower half is pretty strong, too. I just think every night's been a grind.
I think that doesn't change at the NCAA tournament, especially playing a super-skilled Iona team.
Q. What is your pregame hype song?
GEORGES NIANG: You can go first (smiling).
MONTE MORRIS: I usually try to press 'shuffle' and whatever comes on. It can be from slow jams to hype-vibe music. It could go from Justin Bieber to a 'Future' kind of vibe, so...
GEORGES NIANG: I'm a real good kid. I like to think I'm a real good kid. Hopefully if I tell you my music choice, that doesn't throw anybody out.
To get going, I listen to DMX, 'Where the Hood At'. That's what's blaring in my head just to get me psyched up and ready to rock.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss our student-athletes at this time. Thank you, men.
We are joined by Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm.
COACH PROHM: It's great to be here, part of the NCAA tournament. Privileged to be in the tournament and excited about our seed and our matchup with Iona. Playing against a very, very good team out of the MAC.
Tim has done a great job. Obviously they've got talented guys leading with A.J. English. I think our guys will be totally focused and locked in. It's just about winning tomorrow. It's all about tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now take questions for the coach.
Q. How has it been for you this year, first year, what has the overall season been like? How does it feel to get this team back to the tournament?
COACH PROHM: The season's been great. Obviously there's been some highs and some lows. If I said replacing Fred Hoiberg, I'd be lying. It's extremely difficult. But it's a challenge that I wanted.
Iowa State is an amazing, amazing place. Hilton Magic, there's nothing like it. Got to be one of the top five places to play college basketball.
If you look at what our team has done, we've been through some adversity, injuries, suspensions. We're at a great place now. Cincinnati, Iowa, Chattanooga, some great wins with Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas. I think we're ready.
Five straight times we've been to the NCAA tournament, it's a school record. Five straight 20-win seasons is a school record.
Excited to get Georges and Monte to get out there and get ready to win and advance.
Q. Monte says he's 100% ready to go. Is that accurate? Is he 100% at this point?
COACH PROHM: If he said he's 100%, that's great. With kids, it's a mindset. If his mindset is that he's 100%, that's terrific.
When he plays well, we're really, really good, we're really tough to beat.
If you look at our big wins, he's played well and made big plays in all of them.
Q. Talk about the all-around challenge that A.J. English is.
COACH PROHM: First off, he's really good. I watched that game live, their championship game with Monmouth. Jay Bilas was on the game talking about to future pro. I followed them for a long time. They've been really good for a long time, a really good mid-major.
A.J. is great in transition. His range is terrific. Two, three steps behind the three, you have to get to him. You have to make him uncomfortable at all times. If you're off him a step or two, he's going to shoot it.
Tim gives them a great job of giving them a lot of freedom, confidence, to take big shots, tough shots, to where those guys don't have to think.
A.J. has had a tremendous year, I think he's one of the few guys in the country 25-5. Not only is he a great scorer, he's averaging almost six assists a game.
He's not all they have. They have four legit double-figure scorers.
Q. What are the advantages to having recent tournament experience?
COACH PROHM: I think it's huge. I think it's huge. I haven't talked with the guys too much about last year. I know they've probably talked amongst themselves. That brings them a great deal of focus.
You do have guys on this team that have been to the Sweet 16, won tournament games. A couple years ago, I was part of a team, we won tournament games. I think we have a lot of experience here of winning, advancing, understanding what that stage is all about.
But it's all about tomorrow. Our bracket right now is Iona and Iowa State, that's it, no further. If we're fortunate enough to win, we'll move the bracket further.
Our focus is good, having seniors, Georges, Dooley, Jameel, Monte, Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, that's a big thing for us.
Q. You hear about a lot of seniors being suspended, especially late in the year. Where is Jameel at now? What kind of progress has he made since you suspended him?
COACH PROHM: I think Jameel has been great. I think he's in a terrific place. I think our relationship is at a really good place.
He thanked me really 'cause I think it got his focus to where it needs to be.
When Jameel is right, when he's playing, like the best energy guy in college basketball, we're really good. We played well at Kansas the other day, up one with three minutes to go, we got beat, but we got beat by a really good basketball team.
Jameel has been great down the stretch. He understands that he impacts our team in a positive way when he's focused and when he's locked in. I'm looking forward to him playing really, really well this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time, coach.
COACH PROHM: Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports