Cyclones Ready For Napier, UCONN

By Rob Gray, Correspondent and Scott Saville, Sports Director

NEW YORK — For Iowa State's ultra-smooth freshman guard Monte Morris, playing winning basketball hinges on a simple, yet powerful equation: Bright lights equal a broad smile.

Same goes for facing a big-name performer on the other side — one such as Connecticut NABC first-team all-American Shabazz Napier.

"Most definitely," said Morris, who likely will draw at least part-time guard duty on the seventh-seeded Huskies' star in Friday's NCAA tournament East regional semifinal at New York's Madison Square Garden. "Getting the chance to see what he has and what I can pick up from his game after the game, watching it, and playing against it — going up against a senior as a freshman on that big stage, there's nothing else to look forward to but that."

As usual, the third-seeded Cyclones will employ an all-hands-on-deck approach against an opponent's star player. That means ISU's 6-foot-4 mismatch-producing guard DeAndre Kane as well as hot-shooting sixth man Naz Long likely will match up with Napier at times — as well as anyone else who can bother one of the nation's hottest, yet most consistent, players.

Napier scored 25 points on 9 of 13 shooting in UConn's 77-65 round of 32 win over second-seeded Villanova. The 6-1 senior did that despite lengthy bench stays in the first half (foul trouble) and the second (in-game bruised shin).

"He's as good as there is in the game in the clutch," said ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team (28-7) is riding a six-game win streak over tournament teams. "When a guy can step up and take over a game at any point in time, it's a tough guy to prepare for. You can do all you want, talk about him, but those guys that just know how to finish games are tough. You've got to make it hard on him."

Read more: http://thegazette.com/2014/03/26/cyclones-ready-for-napier-challenge/#ixzz2xIQaqehT
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