A transcript of Fred Hoiberg’s press conference after Iowa State’s 74-65 win over Baylor.
FRED 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.
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
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.
Q. This offense, when it’s rolling, Fred, is it Georges up top creating and then everything else just has to go from there when it’s at its best?
COACH HOIBERG: A lot of it is, yes. Georges and DeAndre are the two guys that really facilitate our offense for us, and then other guys play off them so well.
And when we have proper spacing, we’re able to take advantage of those guys, because they force so much help. Melvin had some great drives to the basket yesterday because his man had to sink in and help off Georges. Then Naz hit 3s when those guys sink in and help. Both of those guys have great vision, DeAndre and Georges, and they’re both very unselfish. When you have two playmakers, one your point guard and one really your 5 man, it makes it pretty tough to prepare for.
Q. The second half you guys were able to get some run‑outs that weren’t there in the first half. Baylor didn’t think it was because their energy level dropped, did you see it the same way?
COACH HOIBERG: I don’t think it was either. We were just able to force a couple of turnovers and it got us out going. Dustin had a Kevin Love‑type outlet pass there to get DeAndre in stride on a basket. He also had an outlet pass that he threw right to Chery. So it was just a couple of plays by our guys to get out. We didn’t want to play half court offense against that zone all game.
And by getting out and getting stops, more importantly getting rebounds, I told them if we outrebounded them we would win. I’m glad that held true because that’s how important that stat is. We outrebounded the number one offensive rebounding team in the nation by 10. I think that was the stat of the game.
Q. Most of the teams that start missing 15 of the first 16 are going to find themselves in a pretty big hole. How big was it you guys were only down ‑‑ you kept the distance pretty small there, right?
COACH HOIBERG: It was huge. I can’t stress it enough. I gotta quit saying huge. Somebody said I say that too much. It was very important, I guess I’ll say. (Laughter).
Our defense was really, really good tonight. I thought that second half against Kansas we really defended them, and then that carried over today. They shot ‑‑ really look at us, we shoot 32 percent at halftime. We’re lucky to shoot that. But we held them to 34, and that’s why we weren’t in too big of a hole.
Q . What does this do for seeding tomorrow and then playing actual games into next week?
COACH HOIBERG: That’s a great question. I can’t begin to figure out how they do all that with all the numbers and the strength of schedules, the BPI, RPI, Kenpom. So many numbers out there. Who knows. I know we helped ourselves obviously this week. And we’ll see what happens. But wherever we go, I know we’ll be excited.
We’ve got to ‑‑ again, we’ll enjoy it tonight, but we’ve got to get back to work. We’ll put this one behind us and hopefully give ourselves an opportunity to have a nice run here in the upcoming weeks.
Q. Speaking of the numbers, number one rated conference in a lot of different ways. You guys win the tournament against many of those top teams. It’s not going to end up with the top seed in the tournament. Does it just speak to the confusion maybe that some of those numbers lend themselves to?
COACH HOIBERG: I don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about, so…(laughter). So, again, there’s so many different numbers, and you don’t know which one has the most merit or which one they put the most weight into. But, again, you just gotta go out there and obviously try to win as many games as possible and do it against the best quality teams.
And to do ‑‑ I think we were undefeated in neutral site games. We went into BYU had a huge road win. And then you beat the Big Ten champs, nice win against Iowa. Then have a great conference tournament against, I think, Kansas is number one or two RPI team, and two other are very high quality opponents that are I think top 30 in whatever RPI, I think. So it’s good.
It’s something that we did to help ourselves moving forward, and hopefully we can take advantage of that.