SAN ANTONIO — As the severity of Georges Niang's injury came into focus Friday night in the post game locker room, the Cyclones, while somber, took on a next-man-up mentality.
Below are quotes from key players, coach Fred Hoiberg and a brief conversation with Vic Miller, the team's trainer.
Q: How hard, emotionally, is the injury to Georges?
Hoiberg: "Well it certainly overshadows an unbelievable effort by our guys tonight. That's an excellent basketball team we played with the fourth-longest winning streak in the nation. We went out and did a great job moving the ball and sharing it with each other.
"We're playing as well as any team in the country right now after three great games in Kansas City and after tonight. One of our main cogs will be out the rest of the tournament, but we'll see what we're made of. Some guys will be asked to step up that are itching an opportunity to get out there. We'll see. Adversity hit us tonight and it hit us hard. I believe in these guys and love the way we're playing. We've got a great swagger with our group. We'll put a gameplan in this next day and a half and hopefully come out and compete, which I know we will. If nothing else, we will come out and compete on Sunday and battle these guys. Hopefully it will be good enough.
"He's one of our leaders, with the two seniors Melvin and DeAndre, Georges is right there with them. He's as big a piece as we have. We play through him a ton, obviously. It's a blow, there's no doubt about it. … He's a guy that creates so many mismatches out there on the floor, he's shooting the ball in great rythnm. We'll miss him but we'll put that behind us. We'll try to get a good film session in tonight then go back to work tomorrow."
Q: What can you say about the three starters who haven't played in a tournament game until tonight, Dustin, Monté and DeAndre?
Hoiberg: "I thought all those guys were terrific. I thought Monté, again, he did the same thing his first Big 12 game where he went out and had 10 assists and one turnover. Thought he played a really good floor game, knocking down a couple shots. DeAndre was DeAndre, played a complete game overall with scoring, rebounds, assists. Dustin, I thought, was a difference-maker. He was so good. He was all over the glass. We posted him up on multiple occasions, switched him off on [Jeremy] Ingram, thought his size and length might bother him a little bit and he made him take tough shots. Drew a big charge."
Q: With all five starters scoring in double figures, does that make it easier to move forward? Does it give you more confidence knowing it can come from anyone?
Hoiberg: "That's just who we are. On any given night, it could be anybody. We've got guys that'll go in there and play to the highest level. I believe in these guys so much. It's been a complete team effort with what we've done this season and why we've been successful. Yeah, one of the guys we play through is gonna be out but somebody will step in. I'm confident in that."
Q: Is it Edozie? Naz?
Hoiberg: "It's gonna be a combination. Daniel's gonna have to be ready, Percy's gonna have to be ready. Obviously Matt and Naz. Sherron, we could play some smaller lineups with DeAndre at the 4. We'll see. We'll evaluate all that in the next couple hours."
Q: That was a good win for you guys, but how much of a damper is Georges' injury?
Kane: "Man. Like I said, it's a huge loss for us. Definitely a low blow. Georges is one of our, you know, definitely one of the top guys on our team. Definitely a leader. Like I always say, when things are not going right we know we can count on Georges to make a play out there for our guys, or score the ball, do whatever he does. He's really, really good. He's crafty. He's one of the best forwards in the game right now … I think. But for us, guys have got to be ready to play. Guys got to step up. Guys on the bench that have been itching for minutes all year. Daniel, Percy, Sherron, Matt, Naz. I believe in our guys and I know Georges believes in us, too."
Q: How well equipped is the team to deal with the loss of someone who scored 24 points tonight?
Kane: "I think we'll still be sharing the ball. For us it's unselfish, sharing the ball, getting out in transition. Shooting open shots, having confidence in each other, playing for one another. I think we'll still be able to do that Sunday."
Q: Started hot, stayed hot, finished hot. What was behind the quick start tonight and maintaining that?
Kane: "It was just us making shots. I think the game was kind of close early on but we finally got stops and were able to get that thing off the glass and go in transition. I think the second half's when we really broke it open.
"Those guys were good, taking nothing away from those guys. They played us hard and good."
Q: What was the conversation like when you had to break it to Georges he was out? At first in the locker room he seemed like he might play Sunday.
Miller: "There was no conversation really. He was seen by the orthos down there for the host school, Texas-San Antonio. They said it's a fracture. I think it's a kid that really wants to play, really wants to do it, and sometimes when you have that they hear kind of what they want to hear. And I think that's kind of the case of what happened with Georges. It's a broken bone, time will tell. There's no magic powder we have to make the healing process go faster. Just conservative care."
Niang: "I landed on somebody's foot.
"My role has changed. I go from the court to being the biggest fan on the sideline.
"I'm gonna be on the bench, the loudest cheerleader we have, if that's what it comes down to. These guys have handled adversity a lot this year so I'm not worried about them at all."
Ejim: "I definitely feel his pain. It sucks. There's nothing he can do about it. But we've got guys who can step up and who are gonna have to step up, because he's a big contributor. It's still a good win but definitely a damper. It's unfortunate he has to go down. But now we've got guys to step to the occasion.
"When I was out, these guys did a great job of focusing and getting the job done. So we'll lean on that experience. … Got to get refocused and focus on this next game Sunday."
Q: Thoughts on the Georges injury?
Long: "It's hard for us. That's my brother and I feel for him. But he's a warrior. If he can play, he can play. But if he can't, all good, he's only a sophomore. He's shown the world he's a hell of a player. Guys like myself, Matt Thomas, Daniel Edozie will have to step up."
Q:The team says he is in fact out for the year.
Q:That's what they're saying.
Long: "That hurts, man. That really does. But like I said, we've just got to fill in for him. That's my brother, man. I'm gonna lay my body out there, do things he would do. Not go out of my role but fill in his shoes. That's some big shoes to fill. But he'll be big cheerleader Sunday."
Q:Today, what was behind the shooting performance?
Long: "Preparation. Being able to come in here and get some shots, not take anything lightly. Ever since the beginning of the Big 12 championships we've been so focused, so determined. I credit our guys for that. There's one common goal. We want to be champions at the end of the day. We don't want to lose."