Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cardinal sin and L To The Izzo

Two big upsets from Saturday, you probably already heard about them: 1. Hawaii blows out Michigan State in Honolulu. 2. UC-Irvine beats Stanford in Palo Alto. Both of these were big-time resume builders for the underdogs.

Interestingly enough, this blog saw all four of these teams play in person last year. Michigan State's loss at Wisconsin in the regular season; Hawaii's WAC Tournament 1st round loss to UTEP in Reno, NV; UC-Irvine's 1st round win vs. Idaho in Anaheim, CA; and the Stanford Cardinal's PAC-10 semifinal loss to Washington in Los Angeles, CA. Actually, the last 3 teams (UC-Irvine, Hawaii, and Stanford) were all witnessed in a 3-day span (March 9-11).

This blog doesn't remember a great deal from last year (and questions its relevance), but does recall UC-Irvine guard Aaron Fitzgerald looking relatively unstoppable in the Idaho game. Maybe not as unstoppable as this blog was in the halftime bungee-cord-shooting contest, but still pretty good. Stanford probably knew this going in, and held Fitzgerald to just 9 points, but his 7 assists show that he was able to find Big West pre-season All-Conference teammate Ross Schraeder enough for 19 points in the 79-63 win. The Anteaters were picked to finish 6th in the Big West this year, while Stanford was picked to finish 2nd in the Pac-10, and 14th in the nation by Sports Illustrated.

The lesson this blog takes from the Irvine-Stanford game is that UC-Irvine has been significantly underestimated. The Anteaters return 3 starters from last season, and 2 of them are pre-season All-Conference. This blog predicts at worst a 3rd-place finish, and Irvine might make some noise, especially with Colorado, Santa Clara, and Pepperdine on its non-conference slate.

The lesson out of the Michigan State game is nothing new: Tom Izzo is a whiner. This blog gives Izzo all the credit in the world for going into Honolulu to play Hawaii, not many big-time programs will do that (probably less after Saturday's game). But after having 4 starters cramp up badly enough to exit the game, Michigan State was not conditioned well enough to earn a victory. This is after Paul Davis had cramped up during the NCAA tournament last season, which should have been a giant red flag to Izzo and the MSU training staff not to let that happen again. Hawaii's fans booed MSU's Shannon Brown when he went down with cramps and caused an extended break in the action. Izzo took issue with this, as he does with just about any other action that might possibly be construed as a possible slight towards him or the Spartans. This time Izzo went as far as to disingenuously give credit to Hawaii, and claim that the booing shouldn't be the story, (knowing full well his comments would have the opposite effect). The media is always more than willing to patronize Izzo, probably because it makes for an enticing sound byte. This is a tired practice, and this blog is eagerly anticipating the day when the wins stop coming for Izzo and this classless behavior is no longer tolerated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does "disingenuously" mean?

- Moike

7:28 AM  
Blogger Cooler Brian said...

It means "not genuinely," or "like a phony." So there you go, an new way to describe Tom Izzo.

12:55 PM  
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