NEW YORK — Dustin Hogue was here and there, surrounded by packs on packs on packs of media — sincere apologies to the abstainers of hip-hop — who all wanted to know what it was like for Hogue, a native of Yonkers, to be back in the city and Madison Square Garden.
Hogue, a big Knicks fan, then dropped the bombshell of the day: He had never even been to Madison Square Garden.
When Iowa State's junior forward finally got to the floor, he stood in the middle and looked around, soaking it all in. The Patrick Ewing banner, the Mark Messier banner, the lights, the new, huge scoreboard, admiring all of it.
The Garden wasn't the only dome under inspection on Thursday, though.
Dustin, what is that on your head?
As he wore a beanie during the morning interviews, Hogue's shaved inscription wasn't visible until he began shoot-around, He kindly stood still so the back of hits head could get the photo shoot it deserved, revealing he had the job done back in Iowa.
We assume the "yo" is short for Yonkers, which should see its population dip some Friday night as a bevy of Hogue's familiy members travel to midtown Manhattan.
"I hope he's found time to get some sleep because he's getting pulled in a million different directions," ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said of Hogue. "I told our guys, you're gonna hear from every long-lost relative. You're just gonna have to find a way to shut all this out and go out there and focus on the game."
Cyclones Hit the City
Sophomore guard Naz Long made clear Iowa State's trip was one of business and not pleasure, but there's still room for fun.
The Cyclones on Wednesday night were treated to a dinner at STK in midtown.
"Nice little steakhouse," Long said. "Top of the line over there. You've gotta dress up and stuff.
"Been embracing everything, taking in the city. It kind of reminds me of home. I'm used to the fast-paced lifestyle."
Morris' Increased Burden
At the beginning of his freshman campaign, point guard Monté Morris was focused on doing the little things to stay on the court while avoiding the stupid things — namely, iffy shot selection — that might make him stick out.
"I knew at the time scoring wasn't the thing," Morris said Thursday.
Instead, Morris is simply in line to break the NCAA assist-to-turnover ratio with a clean clip of 5.0, while playing pesky defense.
Since November, three things happened — good and bad — to turn Morris into more of a scoring threat.
Niang out for the season, ISU has plenty of offensive touches to go around.
"Sometimes DeAndre [Kane] and Melvin [Ejim] need a little help, so why not chip in a bit?" Morris said.
In a Round of 32 squeaker over North Carolina, Morris made just 4 of 11 attempts, but three were triples, including a gutsy one in the left corner with the Cyclones down and not much time remaining.
In five postseason games (Big12 tourney and NCAA), Morris has thrice scored in double-figures.
"[After the regular season, Hoiberg] told me he thought I needed to be aggressive," Morris said. "I felt like [that] took all the stress off my shoulders and now I'm just able to play basketball."
Morris will also defend UConn's Shabazz Napier on Friday.
UConn's Daniels a Mismatch Problem
Napier's excellent season has at times overshadowed a great year by Huskies swingman DeAndre Daniels, a 6-foot-9 sharpshooter from California.
"He's a kid that's very versatile," Hoiberg said of Daniels on Thursday. "He can really shoot it from the outside, [he's] great off the dribble and they post him up some."
Dustin Hogue and Melvin Ejim are the most likely candidates to guard Daniels, and each will concede three inches.
"We're just gonna keep playing UConn basketball, keep playing how we always play," Daniels said. "We've had matchups like this before so we're gonna keep sharing the ball, penetrate, get the ball in the post. When they double-team we'll kick it out."