Q&A: Georges Niang discusses the start of Big 12 play

Iowa State is 12-0 and ready for the Big 12 Conference season. Saturday’s league debut will be a tough one though as the Cyclones will travel to Texas Tech, a place where Iowa State was upset just last season. 

The Cyclones met with the local media before practice on Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript of Georges Niang’s question and answer session with reporters.

Q: How do you feel about opening conference play?

GN: I am really excited. I think we did a good job of handling business in the non-conference and this is when the season really starts. There are no real cupcake games in this league so we are going to have to be mentally prepared and ready to go from the get-go.

Q: Having experienced this once now, what do you tell the freshman about the difference in competitiveness and intensity once you start conference play?

GN:Everything picks up a notch, that’s for sure. Like I said, there are no cupcakes in this league. Now that we are undefeated teams are going to want to bring it to us every night. That’s not to say that things have changed from last year. Teams were wanting to beat us regardless. But the level of intensity picks up to a whole other notch and we have to be ready to go at the jump ball.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Big 12 so far this season?

GN:I think we have a really strong conference. People thought that Texas was going to be down and look – they are going off and beating teams and are what, 11-2 now? They are strong. Texas Tech is a really strong team too. We are going to have to be prepared going up against them. Like coach said, they are like a Northern Illinois on steroids. They do a really good job of crashing the boards and being aggressive. We are going to have our hands full going out there.

Q: What do you remember about last year down there?

GN:Oh. I remember being very disappointed. They are a tough team. They go at you from the jump. We need to be prepared. They do a good job of taking us out of our offense so we are going to have to get out early. 

Q: How did you handle the transition to conference play as a freshman and have guys come to you for advice? 

GN:We had a lot of seniors so that made it a lot easier. It wasn’t really hard for me to get things going. Somewhere that made it a lot easier so it really wasn’t too bad.

Q: How has playing a tougher non-conference schedule prepared you for playing in the Big 12 this season? 

GN:It’s huge. You know what you have before conference play. We played Michigan when they were at full strength. I think that really helped us. BYU is not off to a great start but they are a tough team and to go win out there, if you can battle before league play you are better off for it. I fully believe that.