AMES — Naz Mitrou-Long‘s been running with the gold (or second) team in practice as he maps his rise back to full health after undergoing two hip surgeries.
So far, so good — and Saturday, the popular 3-point shooting ace will play some with the first team.
"That’s going to be a big indicator for me," Mitrou-Long, who made 77 3-pointers last season, said after the second Hilton Madness event concluded. "Just to see where I’m at."
Cyclones coach Steve Prohm said Mitrou-Long’s progress has been steady and noticeable.
"He’s been great," said Prohm, who dubbed the level of support for his first Hilton Madness (9,236 fans showed up) humbling. "He brings a different level of energy to practice. Right now he’s wanting to play on the gold team to get more reps, which is smart. (Saturday) I’ll mix him into the red and first team for one of the segments of our scrimmage. But basically, if we go six days, he goes three days, if we go four days, he goes two days. He brings a different level of intensity and leadership to the team, so he’s a huge, huge asset.”
Mitrou-Long said he still hopes to be in fine playing shape by the Nov. 13 season opener against Colorado at Sioux Falls, S.D.
"I’m praying that I’ll be good to go," he said.
Deonte Burton guessed he and his roommate, Hallice Cooke, would do a little boasting after each posted wins in Hilton Madness events.
“So our room won all of the festivities today," said Burton, who dunked to victory over runner-up Nick Weiler-Babb. "We might talk to a couple of players about it, you know.”
Burton strapped on a stylish pair of Timberland boots before throwing down his winning slam.
Cooke topped Matt Thomas from distance, then sank the "money ball" to edge ISU women’s star Jadda Buckley in the final.
"He’s looking good," said Cyclones forward Georges Niang, who again cracked jokes while helping to emcee the event. "I think he’s recovering well from his surgery."
Cooke, like Mitrou-Long, underwent two offseason hip surgeries, but his path to recovery began sooner.
As for bragging, Mitrou-Long expected to hear some from the roommates.
"100 percent," he said. "I don’t know if they did it in the greatest fashion — it wasn’t too pretty, but, hey, they got it done. No, they had some cool stuff. Again (Burton) with those Timbs on — Deonte’s a freak of nature and Hallice shot the ball well."