Jack Taylor's 138 Point Outburst: Heroic or Pathetic?

November 27th, 2012

Last week, Jack Taylor, a sophomore guard on Grinnell College, scored a whopping 138 points in a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible College in Grinnell, Iowa in a men’s collegiate basketball game. Taylor set numerous NCAA records, including most points scored in a game (138), most field goals made in a game (52), and most three-pointers made in a game (27). Taylor has received seemingly nothing but praise and adulation - from countless news articles featuring quotes from NBA players to a live interview on Sportscenter. But Taylor’s record numbers certainly do not tell the whole story.

Taylor had 58 points at halftime, while his team led 85-46. However, Taylor shot only 20 of 50 (40%) in the first half. Somehow, neither the lopsided score nor Taylor’s mediocre first-half shooting performance discouraged Taylor, his teammates, or Grinnell Head Coach David Arseneault - the most guilty of the bunch - from a second-half Taylor “hog-a-thon”, and subsequent assault on the record books. Taylor attempted 58 more shots in the second half, all with his team extending the already embarrassing half-time lead.

The Faith Baptist Bible College (and Theological Seminary) Eagles, a team that had lost all of their previous games by at least 15 points, is a school of about 300 students (compared to Grinnell’s approximately 1600). And while it remains a mystery why they did not double- or even triple-team Taylor once he got going, the school is part of the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II - not the NCAA Division III as Grinnell is - and listed the game against Grinnell as an exhibition on their website.

Somehow, Grinnell Coach David Arseneault felt that a game against such an opponent, would be a great opportunity to glorify his own program by enabling his best scorer to shoot the ball every 20 seconds - yes, 108 shots in 36 minutes played - in an attempt to break a few records
and grab a few headlines. The second most attempts by a Grinnell player in the game? Six That’s just not right.

While such a spectacle may help Grinnell with recruiting, the message it sends to young basketball players nationwide is ultimately damaging. It says that when you score a lot of points in a game - no matter the opponent, the score, or the situation - you have done a great thing. One player taking 108 shots in a game his team wins by 75 points is never a great thing. And by grabbing such headlines, not only did Grinnell paint a bullseye on its own back, it painted an extra large one on its best player, for the rest of the season. Did you think about that, Coach Arsenaeault?