Division III guard Jack Taylor was little known outside of Grinnell, Iowa before today.
Then he became an NCAA record setter—the new owner of a milestone that’s stunning, yet in so many ways, equally unimpressive.
Taylor set the NCAA single-game scoring mark on Tuesday night, dropping 138 points in Grinnell College’s 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible. His offensive explosion shattered the previous Division II record (113 points) held by Bevo Francis for the last 58 years.
That’s the story most will recall, and understandably so. Just don’t forget the subtext, like Taylor’s record-setting 56 missed shots too.
Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Taylor’s surreal performance is that he needed 108 shots to notch those 138 points. That amounts to 1.28 points per shot, which is still very good, but certainly not extraordinary like the glitzy, bare numbers would lead you to believe.
The Grinnell College star made a record-setting 27 treys too. Impressive. Too bad he also missed 44 and shot 38-percent—which is good, but certainly unspectacular—from behind the arc. Last season alone, more than 200 Division III players shot better than 38-percent from 3-point range on the season. Can you name them all? Even one?
Taylor didn’t record an assist, he didn’t make a proactive pass all night. His defense was, for the most part, subpar. The overnight sensation played a 40-minute game of 1-on1, chucking up bombs from long-range as a novice would playing NBA Jam. The other eight guys on the floor were only there for a closer look.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be celebrating the player who shot a run-of-the-mill 48-percent from the floor. Rather, let’s extol [or denounce] the coach whose unorthodox system enabled that player to attempt three shots per minute, as Taylor did. After all, if other college basketball players had the freedom to shoot once every 20 seconds, 100+ point performances would be commonplace.
David Arseneault (pictured right) is the real star of the night. The Grinnell head coach runs a helter-skelter offense that renders Mike D’Antoni’s ‘up-tempo’ system a slow motion replay by comparison. His philosophy, well-known in the Division III ranks but unheralded elsewhere, calls for his players to jack up at least 94 shots per game, at least 47 of which should ideally be 3-pointers. Taylor took that philosophy to heart on Tuesday. He covered those baselines by himself.
“Taylor drops 138” makes for a sexy headline. How he got those points, however, makes for the appealing story. Even more impressive than Taylor breaking the single-game scoring record by 25 was his ability to get off 108 shots with the support of his head coach in the first place.
Forget the gross points, if you can. Blot out the number 138. Taylor’s most impressive attribute of the night wasn’t his jumper; it was his stamina, his willingness to log 36 minutes in a sped-up game and create a play by and for himself on 108 different possessions. There is the substantive story in Grinnell.
Jack Taylor tallied 138 points in a 75-point team win, and remarkably he wasn’t even the best player on the floor. That distinction goes to David Larson of Faith Baptist Bible, who rung up 70 points himself while making 34 of his 44 shots (1.59 points per shot).
But the night wasn’t about Taylor’s 138 points or 56 misses. And it wasn’t about Larson’s jaw-dropping efficiency.
Tuesday night in Grinnell belonged to David Arseneault, whose unprecedented coaching style enabled his star player to miss 56 shots and still shatter a single-game scoring record.