The diagnosis of Georges Niang’s broken right foot took the wind out of Iowa State’s sails. Their 18-point second round win over NC Central felt like a loss, but if there was a stat for resiliency, Iowa State would lead the country. Nothing seems to bother this group. “It’s a tough blow obviously,” said coach Fred Hoiberg before Saturday’s practice in San Antonio, “We’ll miss him, but I can promise you this, we’ll here Georges and he’ll be out there being our biggest cheerleader.”
Losing a key player is becoming a March tradition. Last year, Chris Babb played through an ankle injury in the loss to Ohio State. It left Cyclone fans wondering ‘what if Babb was healthy.’ The ‘what if’s’ are back. “Typical Iowa State luck,” said Cyclone fan Gannon Hendrick, “this is what happens to us when we have a team that we can do something with.”
Niang averaged 20 points in the last 20 games. Iowa State will most likely go to Naz Long and a much smaller lineup for the rest of the season. “We got a thousand plays and we got to go into the bank and try and pick out the ones that we feel can utilize our guys strength’s,” said Hoiberg.
The Final Four dreams now seem like a stretch. But they’re motivated and still playing basketball, and sometimes in March that’s all you need.