Was Jack Taylor's 138 Points A Sham?

 
on November 21 2012 2:40 PM

By now you've probably read about Jack Taylor's astounding 138 points last night for D3 Grinnell, in its 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible.

 

Taylor broke the NCAA scoring record as he and Grinnell stole headlines across the country.

 

As Barry Petchesky at Deadspin points out, however, this sort of accolade is nothing new to Grinnell, who, Petchetsky argues, continues to selfishly flout the traditions of fair, competitive basketball in order to break records and gain publicity.

 

Deadspin reports that Grinnell players have three separate times shattered scoring records, in 1998, 2011, and now one year later in 2012. Each time the media swarmed to profile the Grinnell record-holder. Obviously, Grinnell cannot control the media attention it receives, but, as Petchesky uncovers, something more sinister, more knavish is at play.

 

Deadspin spoke to a former Grinnell player who described the system as this: Grinnell would establish a full-court press after a made basket, with the player seeking the record not crossing onto the defensive side of the court. With an odd-man rush, Grinnell coach David Arsenault -- correctly -- supposed that opposing teams would either turn the ball over due to the press or force quick shots on the other end.

 

“The rationale is to essentially trade off a quick two or more attempts at lower probability 3-point shots,” the player told Deadspin. “Given the high pace required for the system, Grinnell shifts in five players every 30 to 45 seconds. Within each shift there is a primary shooter who will take the bulk of threes (or shots) during the shift."

 

Taylor was the primary shooter last night, and the team regularly shuffled players in and out leaving him on the court to attempt three pointers — 71 to be exact. Taylor finished the game with three rebounds, which all came on the offensive end of the court.

 

Essentially, Arsenault's system isn't so much concerned with playing actual defense as it is agreeing with probabilities that allow one of its players to attempt an unsightly amount of shots in order to break a record and receive media attention.

 

An observer noted that when Taylor would miss a three, one of his teammates would grab the rebound and pass up an open shot underneath the hoop in order to kick the ball out to Taylor who could attempt another three.

 

On the other side of the court, David Larsen scored 70 points for Faith Baptist, mostly off of wide-open layups set up by heaves over the pressing defense's head.

 

One further unctuous Grinnell tactic involves subbing in five freshman during the double bonus, immediately fouling the opposing ball handler, and then subbing their starting five back in so they don't waste fouls or time.

 

The game's announcer said on TV that Grinnell purposely seeks out lowly opponents so they can run up the score and break records. Faith Baptist seems to be the perfect type of matchup for Grinnell to game the system against. The 330-student non-NCAA, non-NAIA school plays in division two of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

 

What Jake Taylor did is like a college basketball player walking into a 6th grade rec game and taking every shot in order to break a meaningless record. Taylor eventually shot 38 percent from beyond the arc—commendable on the surface but not nearly as impressive as his 138 points looks to the viewing public.

 

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