Jack Taylor's historic 138-point night on Tuesday wasn't a sham, as some people are putting it. It was just a product of a ridiculous system and laughable competition.
Should it be celebrated as one of the best record-breaking performances ever? Not even close. But was it a fun occurrence that not only gave us some entertainment, but gave a small Division III school in Iowa some national exposure?
If you haven't heard the story by now, here it is: Taylor, a Grinnell College sophomore, poured in 138 points Tuesday night during his team's 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible. He shot 52-of-108 and 27-of-71 from long distance.
And it has absolutely set the world on fire. Even LeBron James and Kobe Bryant got word (via ESPN):
"It's unbelievable, honestly," James said. "I would like to see the game. I want to see the game.
"I watched Kobe's game when he had 81," James said. "I watched some of the greatest games ever played when guys scored big numbers. 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."
Hate to burst your bubble, LeBron, but this is not a game you want to see. I would know because I watched it.
Grinnell's Jack Taylor took a shot once every 20 seconds. In his 81-point game in 2006, Kobe Bryant shot once every 73 seconds.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 21, 2012
Or this (via ESPN Stats & Info):
Want to know what 138 points looks like? Jack Taylor's shot chart from last night's game! Check this out: yfrog.com/nb30qp— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 21, 2012
Or freaking this (via Numbers Never Lie):
Entering today, 218 D-I teams hadn’t taken 71 three-pointers this season, which Jack Taylor took in a game last night. #JACKedup— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) November 21, 2012
The short answer? It was essentially a pickup game in which Grinnell was gunning for the record books.
On offense, the Pioneers immediately looked for Taylor every time. More often than not, he would stand in the corner; his teammates would give him a handoff and a screen, and he would curl off it for a three. There were other variations, but more often than not, the play would result in an early-in-the-shot-clock bomb or isolation for Taylor.
While the defense, which allowed constant open shots for the obvious No. 1 option, was atrocious, it was Faith Baptist Bible's offense that made this record attainable.
Grinnell put on the full-court press all game long. The Pioneers stuck four players in the backcourt in a diamond press, and Faith Baptist was completely inept at breaking it.
Seriously. Like, they've-never-played-basketball-before inept. Like, my-freshman-basketball-team inept.
With the way both teams set up every agonizing time, Faith Baptist would have literally had a two-on-one break every possession if its players simply knew how to make some cuts and crisp passes. But nope. They tried to make full-length baseball passes seemingly every time.
It was ugly. It was like watching a bunch of second graders run around. It resulted in 49—yup, 49—turnovers.
Just to get an idea of the pace of this game, here's how a first-half sequence played out: Taylor missed three, offensive rebound, Taylor missed three, offensive rebound, Taylor made three, steal, Taylor made three, Faith Baptist baseball pass straight out of bounds (there were a lot of those), Taylor made three, Faith Baptist baseball pass into missed layup (there were also a lot of those), Taylor made three.
And that all happened in about a minute.
This was an incredibly fun and entertaining performance, but it was just clear that Grinnell was aiming for the record books. It would, ahem, jack up a shot as quickly as possible and, if it didn't get the steal, would essentially let Faith Baptist get a layup as quickly as possible.
At one point, the announcer revealed this magical plan: If Faith Baptist would have reached the double bonus, Grinnell would unleash the "Bomb Squad," which is comprised of all freshmen who would immediately go for the steal or foul right away to get the ball back.
In other words, they would use any of their 20 suited-up players to hack whoever has the ball.
Jack Taylor shot 48 percent from the field and 38 percent from long range, which are far from bad numbers. He deserves credit for being a solid basketball player, and he deserves his moment in the spotlight. But he doesn't deserve Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain comparisons.
Nonetheless, it's nights like these that remind us why we love sports. They can be wacky, and 5'10" D-III college-basketball players can win over the nation in a moment. And no matter how ridiculous—or un-basketball—they get, they'll never be a sham.
They'll just be...different. Jack Taylor's Tuesday night was a different night in sports.
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