AMES — Forget the Alamo.
Remember “the Hoiberg.”
And why not?
Everyone else is.
Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg’s celebratory dance routine performed after his team’s stirring 85-83 third-round NCAA tournament win Sunday over North Carolina certainly struck a chord with social and mainstream media observers alike.
But how did it come about in the locker room tucked inside San Antonio’s cavernous AT&T Center?
First, it wasn’t planned.
“If that was orchestrated, that’s pretty sad,” ISU’s somehow even more popular coach said Tuesday — one day before he and the third-seeded Cyclones would leave for New York City and a Sweet 16 East regional semifinal matchup at 6:27 p.m. Friday against Connecticut.
Turned out Hoiberg simply wanted to do something special for his players after they’d comeback from a late eight-point deficit to advance to the second weekend of the tournament for the first time in 14 years.
So, he consulted a Big Apple “expert”: Brooklyn’s Matt Abdelmassih, one of ISU’s assistants.
“He said, ‘Well, you got (Jay-Z’s) ‘Empire State of Mind’ on your iPad?’” Hoiberg recounted. “I said, ‘Actually, I do,’ which was surprising to him. We put it on and, yeah, I went to work.”
That work is what Big Apple expert No. 2 — forward Dustin Hogue of Yonkers — dubbed “the Hoiberg.”
The rest is YouTube history (courtesy of CBS and Turner Sports).
“I hoped we weren’t the only ones that got that treat, that saw him dance,” Hogue said.
No, millions have by now, and like most high-profile performers, “the Mayor” drew mixed reviews.
A section on USA Today’s website declared, “Fred Hoiberg is a Terrible Dancer.”
His kids — well, Hoiberg issued a light-hearted Twitter apology for “embarrassing” them.
Not needed, of course.
And Hoiberg’s players?
They loved the show, even if he didn’t move in precisely the same way they would.
“I was shocked,” Cyclone guard Monte Morris said, smiling. “I was in tears. I was happy for him. It was funny afterwards when we actually saw it on Twitter.”
Don’t tell Hoiberg that.
“I’m pretty impressed with myself after watching it again,” he said. “That’s the bad thing — the music wasn’t played. But when it’s set to music, it’s pretty damn good.”
That’s a fair assessment of ISU, which overcame the loss of key contributor Georges Niang (broken foot) to beat the Tar Heels and put themselves days away from playing in Madison Square Garden.
Hoiberg will be doing different work there against former Chicago Bulls teammate Kevin Ollie’s seventh-seeded Huskies, but his on-court moves will likely draw nothing but praise.
As for Sunday’s — let record-breaking senior Melvin Ejim have the last word.
“It was all right to me,” Ejim said. “I’d probably give him a ‘6’ because of his effort, but he’s a great guy. … If a coach comes out and does that, how do you not want to play for him?”WHEN YOU’RE HOT, YOU’RE HOT: The Cyclones ride a six-game win streak into Friday’s game against UConn. All the teams that fell to ISU during that stretch made the NCAA tournament — and one (Baylor) is still alive, as well. “It’s March,” ISU guard Naz Long said. “Anything can happen. … Anyone can go and cut the nets down in Dallas, and that’s how we feel.”