Following his team's victory over St. Louis University on Sunday, Tom Izzo hinted that he'd like to run with the Cards this Thursday. Specifically, he made the statement that he was looking forward to being a "race-car driver again" or in our case, "maybe a jockey." I say Izzo's either (a) blowing smoke in our general direction, or (b) he hasn't seen us play this year. He may indeed posture for the fans, and media, like a modern day rendition of Kilmer's Holiday; but, I'm convinced that while he may be that crazy, he's not that stupid.
The Spartans could probably play at a fast pace if they wanted to but it's not a pace they've played at very much this year, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to suddenly play faster than you have all year long. Especially when playing at the pace you have been, earned you a Big10 title and a one seed. In fact, they rank 235th nationally in possessions per game, whereas Louisville is currently sitting at #107. I think Mr. Izzo would like the world, and Rick Pitino, to believe he intends to run up and down come Thursday, but I don't believe it for a minute. I believe this game will be another grinder just like our recent battles with Cincinnati and New Mexico were.
I find Izzo's take on this subject to more inline with the character of Johnny Ringo. He says all the scary things, he plays the part well,... but if you look deep into his eyes you can see that he knows he's not fast enough, and that he hasn't had enough fights at that break-neck pace to defeat his opponent at his own game. In this case, I see it being Rick who falls more inline with the character of Doc Holiday; and, when push comes to shove this Thursday night it'll be Rick who's out to settle the score. It will be Rick who tries to play at a race-car driver's pace, while Izzo grinds it to a halt.
CRP: I beg to differ, sir. We started a game we never got to finish. "Play for Blood," remember?
Izzo: Oh that. I was just foolin' about.
CRP: I wasn't
I'm going to go ahead and say that it wouldn't take a Wooden-esk mind for the game to realize that the 2012 version of the Cards has struggled mightily against teams who slow it down, defend like the dickens, and rebound the basketball. Team's like Michigan State. In fact ole Tommy
Ringo-Izzo wouldn't have to look any further than our senior night game, against one of his former assistants, in order to realize that the best way to frustrate/ handicap our offense is to make the game into a half court rock fight.
CRP: Why Tom, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game? I know, let's have a spelling contest!!
I'm waving the BS flag on this one, folks. Tom Izzo has been one of the greatest coaches in the game for a long time now and I refuse to believe that he will purposely play at a pace that gives RIck, perhaps, the only chance he has to return the favor Izzo so cruelly bestowed upon him three years ago in Indianapolis. I refuse to believe that he actually wants to play the game in a way that gives the Cards their best chance to win.
Maybe I'm wrong,.... but I can't help thinking that Coach Pitino will be the one with a sly smile crossing his face if he sees the Spartans trying to push the pace early on.Can't you see it?
Izzo on one sideline thinking to himself : I've got you now you son-of-a-bitch!!
With Coach Pitino on the other, smirking wryly and thinking : You're a Daisy if ya do!!!
There's so much to look forward to this week, so many emotions to look forward to feeling on Thursday. All day long there will be thoughts of redemption mixed with that feeling of knowing that by bedtime we will either know the sweet taste of vengeance, or the sour agony of defeat. I can already feel the tension growing; and the possibilities of knowing what may be just around the corner well for this team, well..... it makes the strain (almost) too much for me to bare.
One thing that will bring me a small measure of peace from now until then is the thought that
Ringo Izzo may indeed want to get out and run with us. If it becomes apparent from the tip that he does want to run, I'll be sitting on my couch knowing that Rick Pitino is on the sidelines saying to himself,... I'm your Huckleberry.