I am done. I have had enough.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote an op-ed on Jack Taylor’s 138-point “performance” in the opening week of the season. I indicated I didn’t understand the point of the effort, it made me sick to my stomach and it flew in the face of everything I know to be the true spirit of sportsmanship. I also pointed out that a school of Grinnell’s stature probably shouldn’t be exploiting the accomplishment. Did I expect anyone at Grinnell to read the rant and change their tactic? Certainly not. However, I did think that since the record had been shattered and the attention had been garnered, they would shy away from their 15-minutes of fame.
I could not have been more wrong.
My first clue something was amiss was Friday night. As I arrived for the first game of the 2013-14 season and my 19th season as the public address announcer for Goucher College basketball, I read a retweet from D3hoops:
— D3hoops/Pat Coleman (@d3hoops) November 15, 2013
I have been around basketball long enough and I know the Grinnell system well enough to read into that very quickly. Taylor had 17 of the team’s first 20 points. Anyone who knows the system knows that means they are just feeding the ball to Taylor. Usually the offense Grinnell utilizes, The System, would have plenty of players scoring and most likely you wouldn’t have anyone with more than maybe eight or so points in the first 5:38 of the game. But Taylor had 14 of 20. Then at halftime:
At the half, Grinnell 70, Finlandia 47. Jack Taylor 42 pts (12-29), Pat Maher 9 pts, 6 reb (3-5). For Finlandia, K. Arnold 10 pts (3-4)
— Grinnell Athletics (@gcpioneers) November 16, 2013
Yep… 42 points of 70. He had cooled off, but he had clearly played nearly the entire half which is another example of Grinnell getting out of its offense because usually players don’t tend to play much more than 15 to 20 minutes in an entire game as they rotate three sets of five players in and out of the game. Taylor finished with 71 and I figured that would be the end of it.
Boy, was I wrong, again.
Now the national media is flying around the story like flies on a piece of fruit in the hot sun. However, this time I am hearing more voices being critical. Deadspin resurrected their criticism from a year ago, though I disagreed with how they portrayed The System, an offensive scheme I actually have no problems with. My problem is how Grinnell gets out of their offense just to try and break a record while embarrassing their opponent in the meantime. To compound the problem this year… they tried to do this a second time after clearly Friday’s attempt didn’t work.
As I mentioned, more voices are being critical and one of the best articles I have read so far is from CBS Sports’ Greg Doyel who did a lot more digging then many national media types did last year or have done since. He found some rather fascinating facts behind the recent record breaking attempt and alludes to some of the reasons probably behind these national headlines.
I have always wondered what was behind these record attempt plans and I can never get the answer from anyone at Grinnell (fans included) that adds up with reality. The usual explanation given to me on Hoopsville or off the air is that the record attempt isn’t considered until halftime. As I did last year, I call BS. By getting out of the normal flow of substitution, equal distribution of the basketball and easy shots after attempted three-pointers, coach David Arseneault is actually stepping away from the tenants of The System he writes in books. Also, consider that last year the video commentators stated they knew a record was going to be broken that night. There are rumblings even the PA announcer has told the crowd of said efforts. Sorry, but the explanation the decision to go for the record was only made at halftime after looking at the box score is hogwash. Then it hit me… is he trying to sell books? Doyel makes the exact same conclusion, but he points a timeline on the fact. We didn’t see these record attempts until books were being considered and published.
I also jokingly said to some that maybe Grinnell is paying teams to come to their gym to be a patsy, whether they knew it or not. Doyel tackles that as well and as a surprising answer: yes, in a way. Crossroads, the latest victim, was offered and paid $1,400 to come to Grinnell on the opening weekend of the season. They didn’t know why, but they accepted because they needed the money. Then they saw last year’s 138-point outbreak and got worried. However, they still needed the money.
This time of year, schools do pay teams to come to their gyms for games. But those games are for tournaments where the schools are enticing teams to take part in their event and help with the costs of hotels and transportation. In Division I, they pay lower-end Division I, Division II and Division III teams to play all the time, however have you ever seen a Division I team decide that their game against a Division III team is the perfect excuse to break a record? Not once.
Grinnell paid Crossroads to be a patsy. They paid Crossroads to come to their gym and ultimately humiliate them. Many Grinnell supporters indicate that the players and the opposing teams don’t mind or don’t care, but that isn’t true. In Doyel’s story, he talked to a Crossroads player who said they couldn’t stop Taylor because the refs were being tight with their calls and they were worried about finishing the game with just four guys on the floor (they arrived with nine). In other words, they were trying to stop Taylor but short of actually taking him out and sending a message, they couldn’t.
So I stand by everything I said in last year’s rant and I applaud those like Greg Doyel who have clearly figured out this is a sham. And with that I tell you this… I have had enough. I am done talking about Grinnell. I am moving on the rest of the season and seasons to come and I won’t mention them again. That’s right… I won’t talk about Grinnell online, in social media or on Hoopsville. They don’t deserve the attention or the spotlight. I am also tired of giving a program that seems to think sportsmanship isn’t a value worth respecting and upholding to its highest values attention.
But as the title indicates, there is an “unless.” I will talk about Grinnell should they win their conference tournament and we are talking about their first-round game in the NCAA tournament. Then we will know they deserve the national attention. They have earned it in their conference and won the right to be recognized. Until then… no more talk. I won’t even utter the school name.
I am doing what other teams for whatever reason can’t… I saying I am done with…