Georges Niang practices his way back into stride for ISU men’s basketball


ISU sophomore Georges Niang makes a jump shot against Northern Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.  Although Niang fouled out before the game went into overtime, he was 9 of 16 from the field with a career-high 22 points. 

Dean Berhow-Goll

Two-straight games of single-digit scoring and foul trouble left Iowa State’s Georges Niang frustrated and looking for answers. 

This had him getting up before the sun, and most of the other students at Iowa State, finding his solution nowhere other than Sukup Basketball Complex at 6 a.m. Then again at noon. And again at 6:30 p.m.

Three gym sessions in one day isn’t crazy. But three gym sessions on the team’s off day? That’s the type of work-ethic that makes head coach Fred Hoiberg happy.

“He came in my office; we talked that next day; he said that’s what I need to do is get myself back in the gym that’s when I’m playing my best,” Hoiberg said.

Against Missouri–Kansas City on Nov. 25, Niang only made two of his six shots and played 19 minutes with the game in hand early. Then, on Dec. 2 against Auburn, Niang made two field goals again on eight attempts and fouled out of the game.

Niang said that in earlier practices he was going through the motions just getting a few shots up here and there. Getting back into the gym early and often is when he said he feels at his best.

“I feel like it was just me getting back to the old me,” Niang said. “I feel like I was a little stagnant before and just going to practice and getting a couple shots up but I feel like when I’m in the gym is when I’m the most confident and I felt like I needed to get back to that happy place or whatever you’d like to call it, so I did that this week, and it worked out for the better.”

Against Northern Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 7, Niang dealt with foul trouble again and had to sit out all of overtime and the end of regulation with his fifth foul, but it was what he did at the beginning of the game that mattered.

In the first half, Niang scored 11 of Iowa State’s 29 points and was the reason the team was only down 13 at half, after Northern Iowa had come out swinging, shooting above 50 percent from the field, making six of their 3-pointers and out-rebounding Iowa State 21-15.

“He had a great game against UNI; thankfully in the first half, he kept us within striking distance,” Hoiberg said. “Without Georges’ production in the first half, it would’ve been instead of sort of ugly; it would have been really ugly.”

His final totals filled up the box score with 22 points, five rebounds, four steals, three blocks and an assist in the 91-82 overtime win at Wells Fargo Arena.

One of those blocks and his lone assist came in the span of a few seconds after he blocked a jumper out on the wing before hitting Melvin Ejim in stride with what he called “his best Tom Brady impression.”

“Georges, I tell you what, after watching that film, the multiple-effort plays that he made in that second half against UNI again, fronting the post, he made a huge block on Rank, hit Melvin in stride for a layup on that play — that’s what you look for, those multiple-effort plays,” Hoiberg said.