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Jack Taylor's second act falls short

11/26/2012


Thankfully, mercifully, Jack Taylor-mania is officially over.

It swept the nation briefly last week, when the Grinnell guard broke the NCAA-record for most points in a game with 138. The numbers were incomprehensible -- 138 points in 40 minutes, 108 field goal attempts, 71 3s -- until you realized exactly what was going on here. Grinnell College coach David Arsenault is renowned for his hyper-uptempo, Paul Westhead-on-steroids system. His teams frequently score 150 points, and they do so by running minute-long shifts of five, playing very little defense, and shooting 3s at the first possible opportunity. It's a circus, in other words. Normally it's a balanced circus. Against something called "Faith Baptist Bible," Grinnell apparently decided to let one player take every shot -- 108 to his teammates' 28 -- in the hopes he could break the NCAA record.

Once the Internet processed this information, 138 points no longer looked quite as impressive. In fact, it looked cynical -- a team running up a score on an inferior opponent and allowing one player to chuck 108 shots (he didn't even shoot 50 percent) for the sole purpose of breaking a record and garnering some buzz. It was genius marketing, but it wasn't good basketball. The backlash had teeth.

After a couple of days of that, I just wanted to go home, eat some turkey and never discuss the 138-point record again.

Fortunately, that shouldn't be a problem now. In his first game since the record-breaker, a 131-116 Grinnell loss to William Penn, Taylor scored -- wait for it -- 21 points. He shot 6-of-21 from the field and just 3-of-13 from beyond the arc.

A less cynical person would say that Taylor decided it was time to get back to normal, to hang back and not take too many shots (in Grinnell's system, 21 shots isn't a ton of shots), to share with the teammates who gave him the go-ahead for the record-breaking performance last week. A more cynical person would say that Taylor's follow-up performance shows pretty clearly (as if we needed further confirmation) that there was nothing natural or "in the flow of the game" about the record -- that it was entirely contrived.

Whatever your thoughts, it happened, it was wild, not everybody liked it and we can now all move on. Good.