By: Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures
The metal frame and circular glass fuse together to create clarity where the eyes naturally see fuzzyness. They create vision that open up a brilliant mind ready to prepare any and all athletes to come together and play as one cohesive unit.
During this season Olympiacos has had a sometimes cloudy future. They looked strong at the end of the regular season, closing out their ten games with three straight wins and a young team seemed like it was starting to gel.
Then the Top 16 came and Olympiacos seemed to look different game to game. They barely were able to get by group punching bag Anadolou Efes on the road and got embarrassed by more than 30 points at fellow Final Four participant CSKA Moscow. But when it all came down to it, Ivkovic had a plan. He saw that as long as they played Galatasaray close away and took care of business versus Efes, they just needed to win the stage finale at home. He saw through his glasses far in advance of the current thinking, slowly bringing along a team that he knew needed some time to feel each other out.
Then finally, he made all of these moves throughout the season to prepare his team for their Playoff bout. And by the time Montepaschi Siena knew what hit them, it was too late. His players were playing with a type of chemistry rarely seen on the court. He wasn’t just trying to get the best basketball out of his guys every game, all season long. No, he was poking and prodding, getting everyone ready to peak at the perfect time. Like a great orchestra conductor, he didn’t want to waste his team’s best performance in practice, no he saved that for the most important time of the season.
From the start as a strict coach, he knew that he needed relent some and he let his star Vassilis Spanoulis run wild. Spanoulis not only needed to be an extension of Ivkovic on the floor, but he needed to be in constant attack mode, as not to let the defense have a break. Then, he worked as a parent raising his kids, turning Kostas Papanikalou and Kostas Sloukas from boys into men. Instilling them with more offensive know how and confidence as they bought deeper into the team concept.
He dusted off Georgios Printezis who had lost his mojo in Unicaja the last two years and created a a semi-beast we had been waiting for. While he reins in Printezis’ game, he allows him one vice, the ability to jack up the occasional open three-ball, as long as he hustles, d’s up, and crashes the glass when possible.
Lastly his most impressive project as he guided this team was the integration of Joey Dorsey and Acie Law at mid-season. A Final Four team entered in two of its best five players into the roster just a few months ago. He saw through his genius bifocals that he needed to groom the rest of his team to be role players early in the season and provided roles for everyone, as the team waited to make a free agent splash.
As the behemoth of Barcelona looms in the very near distance, Ivkovic sees everything clearer than anyone else. Will he play Andreas Glyniadakis-Dorsey-Printezis as his frontcourt at times to match-up with Barcelona’s size? Will he go extra small with a Law-Spanoulis-Sloukas three guard lineup to throw Barcelona off guard with an up tempo pace? Will Joey Dorsey be assigned to follow Erazem Lorbek all around the court, trying to contest his deep jumpers to throw him off his game?
No matter the game plan he puts together and the chess like moves he tries to make, he’ll always be intently watching and staring through those rounded shapes that form the bridge between thought and reality. His glasses turning a mind of basketball brilliance into a grand spectacle on the court.