“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date.”
That quote comes from the Robert Louis Stevenson classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s a quote that’s been on my mind recently, specifically the first 11 words:
“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man.”
The fact that it’s been on my mind doesn’t have anything to do with the balance between good and evil in humans. It doesn’t have anything to do with the book that I haven’t read since high school.
I’ve learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of basketball players.
Instead of a balance between good and evil, it’s a balance between good and bad. It is the balance between playing your role, playing it well, and helping your team win or forcing things, making mistakes and hurting your team. It’s the balance between being a winning player and a losing player.
I know this is a cliché, but this year’s Iowa State basketball team has their Jekyll and Hyde moments. I don’t think it’s a crazy potion that brings out the Hyde in the Cyclones. It could be pressure moments, big egos or any number of other things.
I don’t know the answer, but the question this season has become, which Iowa State team will show up today?
Will it be the Dr. Jekyll that beat a hot Texas team by 10 points in Hilton Coliseum or the Mr. Hyde that surrendered a 15-point lead with eight minutes left at home against West Virginia? Really, it comes down to finding the balance between the two.
It comes down to not letting the high moments get too high and the low moments get too low.
This season teams have consistently followed Iowa State’s big runs with runs of their own, preventing the Cyclones from being able to build leads. Heck, the Cyclones would likely have two more wins if they’d just gone back to neutral in some of those moments rather than letting a high moment turn into a low moment.
Those low moments have been the product of a lot of different things that have been discussed ad nauseam. Poor shot selection, defensive mistakes and poor rebounding are just a few of them. If you follow this team closely, you know what its flaws are.
I know, finding that balance is much easier said than done. Although, I fully believe when, or if, the Cyclones find it, they’ll be nearly impossible to beat.
Taking the next step towards finding the balance starts Monday night when the Cyclones visit the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Here are my three keys to victory:
1 — Anytime the Cyclones play West Virginia the biggest key is going to be controlling the tempo.
That means making good use of ball reversals and not allowing the press to speed you up. I broke down the press before the Mountaineers visited Hilton Coliseum, and all the same principles will hold true here again.
Keep the ball in the middle of the floor, don’t panic and don’t let the defense get you moving faster than you can think. Once the press is broken, it’s just time to play ball.
2 — Iowa State most likely isn’t going to be capable of completely the controlling the boards against West Virginia. That’s not completely a bad thing and it’s just a fact.
The key for the Cyclones will be to keep the Mountaineers off the offensive glass to the best of their ability. That means getting their box outs on every possession and giving their best effort all the time.
They’re still going to get offensive rebounds given how hard they crash on every possession. It’s not allowing one offensive rebound to turn into two, three or four that will be important.
3 — When Iowa State plays downhill they might be the best offensive team in the country. When the Cyclones are attacking the rim and sharing the ball instead of settling for long shots, they’re nearly impossible to stop.
West Virginia is going to try and force Iowa State into taking those long shots but continuing to attack the rim at every chance is going to be huge for Iowa State offensively. The Cyclones are an elite team when it comes to scoring inside the 3-point line.
When the Hyde starts coming out in the Cyclones they’ll start to settle, force shots and stop sharing the ball. It’s what makes them such a frustrating team to watch sometimes.
It’s those Jekyll moments that make it all worth it.