Cyclones Win Big 12 Tourney Title: Quotes

"We don't have NFL. We don't have NBA. We don't have Major League Baseball. There's such a passion for college athletics in our state and especially for Iowa State"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The below quotes are courtesy of ASAP Sports and its stenographers (who you should watch work sometime, because it's insane)

  • THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the champions of the Big 12 Conference, Iowa State Head Coach Fred Hoiberg and student-athletes Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang and DeAndre Kane. Coach, congratulations on the victory.

    COACH HOIBERG: Just a gutty, gutty performance by our guys. After that start wasn't looking real promising out there. Didn't score until the first media timeout. I think started 0 for 13 and 1 for 17. And to find a way to shoot 50 percent for the game, it was a testament to these guys and how we didn't lose our composure.

    I thought we stayed in it with our defense, even though we weren't making shots that never got out of hand. Baylor's been doing that for the last three days, jumping out to big leads on teams just because that zone is tough to crack.

    But once we got it in there and continued to try to get the ball in spots where we could take advantage of it, we started making those shots, and it was fun to see. And, again, great job by our guys playing very well and poised down the stretch.

  • Q. Melvin, can you just talk a little bit about what Coach was addressing there, 0 for 13, starting from the floor but yet y'all just kept coming and finally it started clicking there on the 3 to give you guys the lead?

    MELVIN EJIM: We started off the game, we were getting looks we wanted and we just really weren't converting.

    Coach made sure to tell us just to calm down, that these were looks we were going to get. Coming out of the half he just said keep your composure and keep taking those shots and they're going to start to fall. And Naz started hitting some, Dre hit some, Georges came in and knocked some down and we were starting rolling. It was all about keeping our composure down the stretch. We knew that we were going to make a run just like they made a run and it was just a matter of time until shots started falling and we were going to jump out on them.

  • Q. DeAndre, what were your emotions coming to Iowa State? Obviously it was a new start. But could you possibly have dreamed it was going to end this way, Newcomer of the Year, MVP of the tournament?

    DEANDRE KANE: Not what I expected, getting MVP and Newcomer of the Year. But when Coach gave me a second chance, he brought me in, sat me down, and he believed in me and these guys believed in me. I sent Georges a text message and told him I just want to win. We bought into Coach's -- you know, what he wanted to do all year. We played together. We trust one another. We fight with each other. We're brothers. We love playing with each other. You see it on the court, even though we get down. We've been getting down in leads like that all year, but we trust one another, we keep fighting and we always find a way to get it done.

  • Q. Georges, could you talk a little bit about -- it seems like things turned for y'all midway through the second half when they started giving you the ball in the high post there and you were able to turn, face the basket and make some decisions there. What in your mind was the difference in y'all's getting through their zone?

    GEORGES NIANG: Realistically, I think it was getting in the middle, like you said. But Naz Long really just opened it up. When they had to worry about where he was at that opened up a lot of things in the middle for Melvin, Dustin, for me to get even better looks and one-on-one chances with Austin.

    No, I give a lot of credit to Naz Long, him knocking down those shots were huge for us. And Melvin hitting the two 3s off the design play was huge for us. So I think hitting some outside shots was really the key to open up the inside of the paint for us.

  • Q. Georges and Melvin, other teams in this tournament didn't want to challenge Austin in the middle. Looked like they fell back and you guys did not. Was that something y'all talked about going into this game?

    GEORGES NIANG: Coach told us in the locker room, we're going to try to punch them in the face first. We got off to a slow start, but I think we were getting good looks, they just weren't falling in. He kept telling us in the locker room keep going to at them, keep going at them. That's what we did and they eventually cracked. They're a very talented team, though, so we're real happy with this win.

    COACH HOIBERG: That was a figure of speech, by the way (laughter).

    MELVIN EJIM: We knew, even though they were long and athletic, if we could battle them on the inside, we can get rebounds on them and we can attack them if we went up strong and finished strong. And in the first half, we really didn't do that well, but in the second half we made it a point to attack them and we were able to get some easy buckets inside. And Georges was able to get some nice steals down there and really convert. Dustin went in there, made a couple of big plays. So we just, like you said, didn't try to shy away and tried to attack them straight on.

  • Q. I don't know if you all saw, but there were fans in the stands who had Band-Aids on their head. Do you all want that to be a thing going forward?

    GEORGES NIANG: No, no. I shot 5 for 15. The Band-Aid is obviously not good luck (laughter).

    DEANDRE KANE: Whatever Georges say, so...

    MELVIN EJIM: Cool with me.

  • Q. It may be safe to say that there were more people wearing cardinal and gold here than when Hilton is full, how did that impact the game for you guys?

    COACH HOIBERG: It had a tremendous impact on the game. It's so special to share this moment with our fans and the State of Iowa. It's all about the college sports. We don't have NFL. We don't have NBA. We don't have Major League Baseball. There's such a passion for college athletics in our state and especially for Iowa State

    These fans have such a great following, with all of our sports. And just in reading some messages last night, you just knew all the people that were going to come down and see us compete for this championship.

    And it wasn't looking great, I've gotta be honest with you, early in that game. But once we took that seal off the rim when Naz hit that 3, we slowly chipped away, and our fans had so much to do with that.

    When you've got a fan base like that, it had to be at least 16,000 of the 18,000 cheering and pulling for you. That helps you, that helps you when things aren't going well. And that was definitely a huge factor, I think, in the game, was just the support that we had from our fans.

  • Q. Fred, after the game you looked like you did a little bit of a lap there pumping your fist, can you describe that experience a little bit and what was going through your mind?

    COACH HOIBERG: The fist pump was such an emotional feeling for me, just -- I really thought about Coach Orr. I know he's been watching over us this year and this one's for him. Just the fist pump was in honor of Coach.

    And also to thank the fans as well. Just wanted to get around and let them all know how much we appreciated everything they brought to Kansas City. It truly was Hilton South today. And just again a special moment, but also a very emotional moment for me.

  • Q. Heslip hit a 3 from the sideline there, put them up 2 and then Naz comes down. Was that one of the deeper 3s he's made this year?

    COACH HOIBERG: Yeah, it's one of those Canada things, I think. Whatever you can do, I can do better. It was obviously a very timely shot to hit that.

    I think in the game down there, Baylor, Heslip hit one similar and we came down and missed one. Then they came down and Chery hit a couple of shots to push it to seven. That was as big a shot as we had all game to put us back on top and we didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the game.

    Just, again, guys sticking with it. To shoot almost 70 percent against that zone is huge for us. It's something we may see in the tournament. We played three different styles against three great teams in this tournament. And that will certainly help us moving forward.

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