The Writearound: How many points is too many points?

Asst. Sports Editor David Schantz discusses Grinnell College sophomore Jack Taylor’s 138-point game on Sunday Nov. 20. Sports Editor Rebecca Fitzgerald, Asst. Sports Editor Victor Wang and Opinion Editor Ben Cosman add commentary as well.

Schantz: Was the achievement disrespectful? No. As former NFL head coach Herm Edwards would say, “You play to win the game!” Grinnell’s opponent had a player score over 70 points in the same contest, so clearly it was a unique game and it would be unjust to call Taylor’s performance embarrassing or disrespectful to the game of basketball.

Cosman: Unless it’s a little league game with children, you can’t call any performance disrespectful. These are kids who go to college to play basketball – if they’re going to let a kid drop 138 on them, maybe they should practice a little harder. If Taylor can score that many, then let him.

Wang: While not disrespectful, the game was a bit embarrassing. Red flags should have been thrown as soon as Taylor scored 30. Play some defense.

Schantz: Embarrassing to the opposing team? For sure. That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there – it was Jack Taylor. Play a different defensive system please.

Fitzgerald: If you watch some of the video clips, too, the opponents don’t seem to try to defend Taylor when he’s throwing up 3-pointers every 20 seconds. Either the opposing team didn’t catch on to the Taylor-dominated offense or they didn’t want to try to stop it.

Cosman: Taylor’s performance is an example of the kind of offense-centric style of play that has taken over. Sports exist to entertain and who can argue that a 138-point game isn’t entertaining?

Schantz: I can only imagine what it was like being in the stands for that game. I’m sure even the opposing team’s fans were rooting for him once they realized what he was doing.

Fitzgerald: Agreed, but this type of sports is far from the traditional sense. Is it bad? I think so.

Cosman: I definitely agree that it’s bad, but again that’s coming from the traditionalist in me. I’d like to see the game played for the sake of the game, both offense and defense. But now players put up triple doubles on the regular – the game is fast and exciting and it fills seats.

Wang: So do you think Grinnell’s tactics are used to fill up seats or to win games?

Schantz: I have been known to be naive, but I think that Grinnell’s coach [David Arseneault] puts this style of offense in place to win games and force opponents to play his style of game.

Cosman: The coach said this style of play wins games something like 95 percent of the time. Sure, I think it wins games, but it also is the kind that garners national attention – no small feat for a Division III school. It’s undeniably gimmicky, because it does indeed work. Once people catch on and it no longer remains successful, the coach will revert back to traditional play.

Wang: That’s true that they have garnered national attention. A Grinnell game was the first Division III game featured on an ESPN network.

Fitzgerald: Who even heard of Grinnell before this?

Schantz: Can’t say that I had.

Wang: Well I’ve heard of the Grinnell’s tactic called the “system.” It was funny, I was reading about it a week before Taylor erupted for 138 points.

Cosman: I didn’t even know who Taylor was or Grinnell when you told me what we’re talking about. I had to look it up. I just knew of the player that had broken the record.

Fitzgerald: Exactly!

Wang: Well, that’s life for a Division III school.