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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Here is how the story was supposed to go (what I had written before Georges Niang left Iowa State’s 93-75 NCAA Tournament victory over N.C. Central with a broken foot.)
If you talked to an Iowa State fan on Friday that wasn’t nervous about a 3-14, NCAA Tournament matchup against N.C. Central, then that person lied straight to your face.
Did “Hampton” happen well over a decade ago? Yes.
Do DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim have anything to do with one of the lowest low-points in Iowa State athletics history? Absolutely not.
Should Iowa State fans be over it by now? Nope. Losses like that stick with a man for decades, and sometimes longer. Some men take moments like that to the grave.
Take a deep breath Fanatics. The workmanlike Cyclones avoided “Hampton” 2.0 in San Antonio and it wasn’t even close. The Cyclones, who are playing as well as any team in the country right now, cruised.
Here is how it really went, though.
After an 18-point NCAA Tournament victory, Iowa State’s locker room resembled a funeral parlor. Sure, Iowa State can still beat North Carolina on Sunday, but what lies after San Antonio is the issue.
With Niang, the Cyclones were a legitimate Final Four contender and national championship darkhorse.
Without the sophomore, who broke a bone in his foot in the big win? This is a completely different basketball team.
Sunday’s game (4:15 on CBS) must go on and as they have done all year, this Iowa State team will show off its toughness and resiliency. But what’s the plan? I asked Fred Hoiberg after the game.
“Daniel (Edozie) is going to have to be ready,” Hoiberg said. “Percy (Gibson) is going to have to be ready. Matt (Thomas), Naz (Long) and Sherron (Dorsey-Walker). We could play some smaller lineups with DeAndre (Kane) at some 4.”
The latter is my guess as to what will occur. Get ready for some extra small Hoiball. Four guards, spread it out, fire the trey. Without Niang, Iowa State simply does not have the option to go man-for-man with the Tar Heels down low.
Who knows what Iowa State will do as far as a game plan goes? I do know however that Hoiberg will come up with something. He always does.