Iowa defeated Michigan State, 43-36, tonight. It was a huge win, but not necessarily for the fans. Honestly, who cares about us at this point? We're still Iowa fans, we still want them to win, but I don't think any of us are living and dying with every possession anymore. It was bigger than us. Think about that for a moment.
Now, think about this - Michigan State is (was) the #6 team in the country. Their only previous loss (against 14 wins) was against #2 UCLA. Tom Izzo* is a great coach with ridiculous talent at every position. Iowa is coming off a humiliating defeat to Ohio State where only through the grace of a friendship with Coach Lick, Thad Matta played walk-ons for much of the 2nd half, keeping Iowa within 50. It was the biggest mismatch of talent I've ever seen since I started watching Hawkeye basketball. This is the time when most people would give up, wouldn't you? Think about that for a moment.
Now, think about this - once the season starts, you can't control talent. You can't make your kids taller or get them to jump higher. They can't shoot straighter or run faster (or at all if you're Seth). What you can control is effort; and Iowa gave more than you could ask for. This was the best defensive effort I've ever seen from an Iowa team. You can go through the numbers if you choose - they're impressive. These guys came out and straight balled for 40 minutes. They took everything the Spartans had and held fast. This was an act of will; nothing more, nothing less.
When the final horn sounded, the fans stormed the floor, and the camera panned over the players' faces, I didn't see joy - I saw relief. Those guys have worked so hard, probably harder than any Iowa team in memory, for what will likely be the worst season in school history. Just think about that for a moment. These kids have invested so much in this season and they finally got a return. This was a great win. I'm going to enjoy it, for me, and for the players. Who knows when we'll get another one.
We're proud of you, Hawkeyes.
* Whom I hate more than any other coach in the Big Ten, this guy is such an ass and I cannot believe more people don't realize it. They were beating Iowa by like 30 last year and he had his starters in launching 3's with a full shot clock with a few minutes left in the game. He is a classless asshole and I hate him. I would go on, but his is a footnote in a positive, happy post, so, I'll talk about my hate for Izzo at another time.