“That definitely motivated us,” said the 6-7, 245-pound freshman, who was cheered on Friday in Dayton by his mother, Alison Niang, and his uncle, Methuen native Ed Champy. “That was locker room material. I’m surprised that came out of his mouth. We didn’t want to be compared to (11-21) DePaul, no disrespect to DePaul.”
Niang generally lets his game do the talking, but he couldn’t resist.
“Obviously, I was letting him know,” said the former Tilton (N.H.) School star, who scored seven straight points to let the Cyclones blow the game open (44-31 to 51-31).
Niang has had to quiet the critics for years. But he still has to pinch himself over how far he has come.
“It’s really cool. I’m just a humble person,” he explained. “It’s amazing going from Michael Gorman and Rick Gorman’s couch to playing here! I’ve always had big dreams and big aspirations. I always dream big.”
Teaching Cooley a lesson or two was enjoyable, but he was equally satisfied to get the upper hand on his former AAU teammates. Pat Connaughton from St. John’s Prep and prep school rival Zach Auguste from Marlboro and New Hampton School play for the Fighting Irish.
“It’s great to get that first win, especially from my Mass. buddies,” said the first-team Big 12 All-Rookie team selection. “It’s good to get bragging rights for the summer pickup games.”
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET