Jan 12, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Indiana Pacers forward Georges Niang heads to the court before a NBA game against the Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Georges Niang may currently wear the blue and gold of the Indiana Pacers, but he still bleeds the cardinal and gold of the Iowa State Cyclones.
Thanks to the NBA All-Star break, the Cyclone legend was back in Ames to take in Iowa State’s game against the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday.
Niang has had an eventful first half of his rookie season. He bounced from Indianapolis (where the Pacers are located) to Fort Wayne (where Indiana’s D-League team -the Mad Ants – are at). Niang has seen action in 22 games for the Pacers this season, averaging 4.1 minutes per game.
While making his return to Hilton Coliseum, Niang met and talked with reporters concerning a wide variety of topics.
On the first half of his rookie season
“It’s a little more than half. It’s been good though. I’m really learning a lot. I woke up and do what I love every day. So I have no complaints. I’m still in the midwest. I’m still a Cyclone at heart. So everything is great.”
On his interactions with ISU head coach Steve Prohm
“We just talk basketball. I think, that’s what it really is. Sometimes he’ll ask my opinion and sometime I give my opinion when it’s not asked. But, I mean, he jokes around, if he catches a tail end of (the Pacers’) game and if I get in, he’ll give me some feedback. I just think it’s the relationship that we have. I think we are both just basketball junkies.”
On his former ISU head coach and current Bulls head man, Fred Hoiberg
“That’s my guy. He’s doing good. He just beat the Celtics the other night. They’re doing good. They won.”
On bouncing between the NBA and the D-League
“I just take every opportunity I get to play as an opportunity for me to get better. I think that’s what it really comes down to at this point. It’s just really me focusing and competing with myself to get better day in and day out for when I do get my opportunity, so I can be ready to succeed.”
On the promotional stuff he does for the Pacers
“That’s like the biggest tease because (the Pacers) don’t let me eat doughnuts. In have to get them for everybody else. Some places we go have really good doughnuts. There’s a lot of cool things that the Pacer organization does and there is this whole rookie hazing, but that hasn’t happened yet. They take care of me over there and I am thankful to be a part of a first class organization.”–On him doing video promotions for the Pacers
On Iowa State’s season
“Man they beat Kansas at Kansas. I’m still jealous of them. I simply say how it is. So when I say ‘I don’t care what you say about this team, you have to respect them.’ For them to come in and be counted out and say ‘They are not going to be this good’, they just keep showing up everyday and fighting and running, even through heartbreak and some tough losses and still show up everyday. I watched practice yesterday and I was like, ‘I don’t remember going this hard in practice.’ They went hard and I am happy to call myself a Cyclone.”
“This actually brought back some memories. It feels good to be back here and it’s going to be weird and interesting at the same time to be here as a spectator instead of a part of the show.”–coming to back to Hilton
On being teammates with former Iowa Hawkeyes Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury
“I’m a team guy so since we were wearing the same jerseys, I was telling them how great they were, making them feel good. Off the court, I had to let them know what my record was against them. Jarrod Uthoff kept reminding me how he had 30 points in the first half of that one game, but I reminded him who won at the end of the day. They’re both great dudes. On the court, there’s obviously some tension but off the court those guys are real good guys, stand up guys. Doing the right things. No problems.”
On the transition from college to the pros
“Coming from college, I thought I knew it all, had a high basketball IQ, and really i knew nothing. It’s a tough adjustment. The speed, the athletes, the size of the guys. You really have to be focused 100 percent of the time and give 100 percent effort every night and I think that’s extremely demanding but that’s why it’s the best league in the world.”
On his eye-opening moment in the NBA
“I think we played the Bulls our third game of the year and I went up for a rebound. I was watching the ball come into my hands and (Robin Lopez) was just soaring and was like a foot over me, grabbed the rebound and I hit him and then I hit the floor. That was sort of the ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment. I was like, ‘Wow, I don’t think anyone else was going to get that ball.’ Like I said, that’s why it’s the best league in the world.”