BY HAYES GARDNER
A couple weeks ago, I gave my teammate Jack Taylor some aspirin because he thought he might be getting a cold. I like to think that was one of my contributions to him having the game of his career this past week.
On Tuesday, November 20, basketball player Jack Taylor of Division III Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa scored 138 points on 52 for 108 shooting and 27 for 71 shooting from behind the arc, breaking NCAA records for points in a game, field goal attempts, field goals, three-point field goal attempts and three-point field goals. The overwhelming media response was one of impressed awe, but a portion of the media had negative messages, labeling Taylor as ‘selfish.’
However, don’t think for a second that this was an individual performance. From me, a bench player who doesn’t wear a jersey, all the way up to Jack, every player and coach on the team had a role in this record.
Following the record-breaking game, ESPN’s Stuart Scott tweeted “Not a big fan of Jack Taylor’s 138-pts in Grinnell win. He took 108-shots including 71-3’s…Just say that out loud. Now say “team”!”. Jack wasn’t the only one working and sweating to score on Tuesday–it was a group effort. It takes a village.
On Tuesday night, the team started out hot and we knew Jack had had a great first half, but when our head coach, David Arseneault Sr. informed us in the locker room that Jack had compiled 58 points in the opening 20 minutes, our eyes widened and he told us that tonight could be a special night.
Players like Griffin Lentsch, a senior who led the team with 26.2 points per game last year, could have objected to playing second fiddle to Jack, a transfer sophomore who was in his third game wearing a Grinnell Pioneers uniform, but the team embraced the strategy to feed one of our best scorers, working hard on offense to get Jack open and on defense to force a record 49 turnovers.
Even Grinnell’s second leading scorer from the 2011-2012 campaign, sophomore Luke Yeager, finished with zero points and four assists.
Film of the game reveals not only Jack’s ridiculous ball-handling skills and ability to split double teams for buckets, but also the exuberance expressed by the entire bench, including assistant coach Larry Jackson Jr. leaping in the air and waving his arms up in down in jumping-jack fashion as Jack hit his last three from NBA-range.
After the game, the team gathered at a local restaurant and roared with joy as we saw the Grinnell Pioneers ‘Honor G’ logo appear on ESPN.
Some players’ roles were to set screens for Jack in order to free him for shots, others were to acquire steals and rebounds to create fast break opportunities and others were to be loud and positive on the bench. But Jack’s point total was far from individual.
Since the game’s final buzzer, Jack has taken more requests for interviews than he did shots on Tuesday night, but the rest of us haven’t twiddled our thumbs watching him bask. When we hear the media talk about how great this performance was, we nod our heads.
And we when hear the media talk about how upset the rest of the team must be with Jack, we scoff. Jack didn’t score 138 points for himself, he scored them for the Pioneers. Personally, I’ve received dozens of phone calls and text messages from close friends, less than close friends, and even some tweets from strangers.
There’s also a sense of excitement from turning on network television and seeing images of the guy I sat by at our team’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Fans chanted Jack’s name during the game and stormed the court afterwards, but campus wasn’t the only place filled with chatter. On Tuesday night, both “Jack Taylor” and “Grinnell” were trending worldwide, blowing some excitement to the liberal arts college set halfway between a cornfield and I-80. The exposure received by the College is nothing short of remarkable. According to Front Row Analytics, the media explosion earned the College $2.3 million worth of exposure.
It may have been only Jack Taylor who fielded questions from Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday night, but his record was not achieved alone and the benefits felt were shared by many.
Records are made to be broken, but I don’t see this one being broken anytime soon. It takes a special player to score 138 points. And it takes a special night. But, most of all, it takes a special team.
Lexington native Hayes Gardner graduated from Henry Clay High School in 2011. He currently attends Grinnell College, in Grinnell, Iowa and is a History major and member of the men’s basketball team.