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Overview of the Grinell Offense & Jack Taylor Scoring 138 Points in One Game

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During this past season, nearly every basketball fan in the country went into semi shock when they heard that a 5'10 sophomore named Jack Taylor from Grinnell College in Iowa scored 138 points in a single game (58 in the first half and 80 in the second half).

Now we could probably debate for hours on questions such as "Why did his coach still have him in the game when his team was ahead by 70 points?" or "Why did the opposing coach let that happen? Did he switch defenses? Switch defenders? Try a Box and 1? Put two defenders on him? Try denying him the ball? Etc." Instead, however, this article is going to briefly discuss the Grinnell offensive system that helped produce such ridiculous numbers.

Several years ago Coach  Dave Arsenault found himself in a dilemma that is familiar to many NCAA Division III programs, who are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships.

Since his program was losing much more often than they were winning, Coach Arsenault was having trouble finding enough players to field a full roster.

Players who found themselves outside of the normal playing rotation of 7-8 players would just quit and those who could see the writing on the wall would refuse to play in the first place. It became obvious that the only thing worse than playing on a horrible team was sitting the bench on a horrible team!

In an effort to get things turned around Coach Arsenault implemented what he calls "The System" which is somewhat similar to Paul Westhead's Loyola Marymount Fast Break but only ten times faster.

Here are the system's keys to success:

  • Grinnell takes at least 25 shots more than its opponent
  • Grinnell takes at least 94 shots over the course of the game
  • The ball should be shot every 12 seconds, or quicker if possible
  • At least half of these shots are three-point attempts
  • Grinnell rebounds at least 33% of its own missed shots
  • Grinnell forces their opponent into at least 32 turnovers

Originally, Coach Arsenault divided his squad into three separate "teams" of five players each. Each team had a point guard, a shooter, a post player who could and would sprint every possession, and two athletes. Likewise each team of five had its own quick hitting offense based on the strengths of its players, especially its shooter who always got the first two looks at the basket.

They ran this one play each and every time and if it didn't produce an open look for their shooter then anyone was free to take the first available open shot. Defensively, the Grinnell teams pressed nonstop trying to get steals and creating turnovers but were satisfied with giving up wide open shots as long as they were taken quickly.

What made the system unique was that the groups were evenly divided in terms of skill level and personnel and they rotated in and out of the game approximately every minute. Play one minute and then rest two minutes while the other two groups played. Everyone plays. Everyone has the green light to shoot and there's no such thing as a bad shot.

The focus was no longer on winning and losing but instead was on getting more shots up than an opponent. The theory was, and still is, that if Grinnell can get twice as many shots as an opponent then they don't need to shoot as well to win, especially if the majority of their shots were three point attempts.

Of course, the system has been tweaked and adjusted over the years to fit particular personnel, (Jack Taylor, the player who scored 138 points, played 36 minutes, which is impossible using Arsenault's original substation pattern of constantly rotating five in and five out approximately every minute.) and the results in terms of wins and losses have been good but not great. But Grinnell is winning more than they are losing; they are nationally recognized and Coach Arsenault doesn't have any trouble filling out his roster any more. In fact he is currently the only coach in the country who can honestly tell a potential recruit, "Hey kid, come to Grinnell and you just might become the next Jack Taylor!"

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