NEW YORK CITY — Every college basketball pundit in America has written about the DeAndre Kane/Shabazz Napier matchup over the past five days and rightfully so. The duel features two dominate guards with contrasting styles meeting up inside of Madison Square Garden in the Sweet 16.
You can’t get much bigger and better than that.
Warning: Do not mention a “one-on-one” game between the two to DeAndre Kane.
“Well for me, I’m not looking at it as a one-on-one matchup,” Kane said on Thursday. “I know a lot of people are.”
The above quote came during Iowa State’s formal press conference at Madison Square Garden. Iowa State’s 6-foot-4 point guard was then asked a similar question by a different reporter 30 minutes later in Iowa State’s locker room.
“It’s not one-on-one but I’m looking forward to the challenge against UConn,” Kane shortly said.
This is a team deal and Kane isn’t about to make Friday night’s contest about him – that was his very clear message to the media.
“He makes big shots when they need it,” a complimentary Kane said of Napier. “He rebounds the ball, to be as small as he is, as good of a guard does in the country. He puts his team in great positions to win. But we’re going to do whatever we can to slow him down, slow him down in transition and we’ll take it from there.”
According to Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, Kane will not be the distinctive Cyclone to defend Napier on Friday night.
“A lot of guys will guard Napier,” Hoiberg said. “One guy can’t stop him. He is really, really good. You talk about great clutch players, I don’t think there is anybody in the college game right now who is better than Shabazz Napier. You can’t ask one guy to stop him. You try to slow him down. You try to have him make tough, contested shots and he is going to make some of them.”
Napier will enter Friday’s contest as UConn’s fifth all-time leading scorer. He’s the third all-time leading assist man in UConn hoops history. Napier, a senior, is averaging 17.8 points per game.
Meanwhile, Kane is currently third on Iowa State’s assists in a single season chart behind Jamaal Tinsley (2000) and Jeff Hornacek (1986). The first-team All-Big 12 guard has averaged 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season for the Cyclones.
Quotable: Shabazz Napier on DeAndre Kane…
“Kane is a great player but the problem is that everybody – you know, I think he’s definitely their motor. He gets them going. That’s what great players do. I’m pretty sure that if we try our best and try to contain him, which is sometimes difficult, because he’s seen everything. He’s seen and experienced everything throughout this year. We just got to try out best to contain him and they shoot a lot of threes and they make a lot of threes. We got to do a good job of contesting shots. We got to do a good job of rebounding the ball. And we just got to do a good job overall as a team of controlling the tempo we want.”