November 22, 2012

Shots fell, and so did the records

Jack Taylor left the best in basketball awestruck with a 138-point game for a Division III school.

The Associated Press

How did Jack Taylor of Grinnell College wind up with 138 points in a game?

click image to enlarge

Jack Taylor hit 27 3-pointers during his 138-point game Tuesday night. But other times he settled for a simple layup for Grinnell College.

The Associated Press

Jack Taylor
click image to enlarge

Jack Taylor

Well, he did miss 56 shots, more than he made. And he didn't play for four minutes.

Otherwise he would have scored even more.

As it was, Taylor shattered the NCAA scoring record by 25 points Tuesday night in a 179-104 victory against Faith Baptist Bible in Grinnell, Iowa.

Taylor hoisted a mind-boggling 108 shots, one every 20 seconds. Layups, fadeaways and 3-pointers (27 of those) were all working in a display that had the NBA's basketball royalty buzzing a day later, from Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

"It's like a video game," Anthony said. "How can you shoot 108 times?"

"It's unbelievable, honestly," James said. "There's two games that I would love to see: One was Wilt, when he had 100, and this kid, I want to see him, too. Sir Jack."

Wilt Chamberlain's record of 100 points scored in 1962 still stands as the NBA mark. Taylor was the third player in NCAA basketball with at least 100 points, but his performance was the most prolific.

Taylor himself was still trying to catch his breath Wednesday.

"Honestly, it's still not settling in. It was hard to sleep," Taylor said after appearing on "Good Morning America" and the "Today" show.

Understandably so. Taylor is just a 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore from Black River Falls, Wis. How did he score more points than anyone in college history?

Well, he had 58 at halftime. And then he scored 30 more in the first nine minutes of the second half, draining seven straight 3s at one point.

The Division III record was the first to fall; Taylor reached 91 points on a 25-footer from the left wing with 11:14 to go. He cracked 100 on a layup three minutes later, and with 4:42 to go he drained yet another 3 to pass the NCAA record of 113 set by Bevo Francis of Rio Grande against Hillsdale in 1954.

In 1953, Francis had 116 against Ashland Junior College but Frank Selvy is the only other player to reach triple figures, scoring 100 points for Division I Furman against Newberry in 1954. The previous Grinnell record was 89 by Griffin Lentsch last Nov. 19 against Principia.

Taylor made 27 of his 71 3-point attempts and was 52 of 108 overall. He had a hot hand, sure, but he plays in a system designed to reward high-volume shooting.

Grinnell's goal is to shoot within 12 seconds of getting the ball, something borrowed in part from the breakneck system Paul Westhead installed at Loyola Marymount in the 1980s. The 3 is the shot of choice -- in fact, every player must shoot 100 3s every day in practice -- and the four guys who don't shoot crash the boards. The Pioneers also press relentlessly on defense, hoping to force a turnover or a quick shot so they can get back to scoring points.

The style demands fresh legs, and the Pioneers typically substitute every 60 seconds or so.

"It's just something completely different than you face any other time you play," said Brian Fincham, the coach at Faith Baptist Bible, a school in nearby Ankeny, Iowa, with fewer than 300 students. "If they've got a little bit of ability on you, it's tough to keep up."

When Coach Dave Arseneault landed at Grinnell 24 years ago, he inherited a program that went from 1965 until 1994 without a winning season. Because of their high academic standards and rural location 50 miles east of Des Moines, winning basketball had simply eluded the Pioneers for decades.

(Continued on page 2)

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