In basketball, 100 is a sacred number, especially in the Philadelphia area. After all, it was only a short distance away in Hershey, Pa., where Philly basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain dropped 100 points in an NBA game. The record still stands in the NBA after 50 years.
Last Tuesday night, while Cabrini was ringing in another basketball season on their home floor, another Division III athlete was making history.
The NCAA record for any division was 116 points set by Bevo Francis in 1953. Grinnell College (Iowa) sophomore Jack Taylor shattered the record.
Taylor netted 138 points in a single game, making 52 of 108 shots including 27 three-pointers.
Before everyone jumps at this crazy show of shooting, note that this is a system that Grinnell has run for 24 seasons under head coach David Arseneault.
The system features a full-court press defense for the entire game and possessions that last approximately five seconds each with quick shots. On this night, the instruction was clear: give the ball to Jack Taylor and let him fire away.
While this may be a familiar system to the Grinnell program, this is not a system that other schools in the nation can relate to or understand. NBA stars are acclaiming this performance. I am not.
My first thought when hearing of Taylor’s record-setting performance was to instantly apply the ball hog tag. When I learned he played for a Division III basketball team, I instantly thought about my Tuesday night experience.
Cabrini had just swept the Battle of Eagle Road in basketball. They won both games with strong team play. And after the game, both coaches enforced the team aspect of the game.
That’s the truly great thing about Division III sports, no matter the playing field. Win or lose, players operate as a team and a unit with a goal and a mission.
Grinnell may be in the record books but one player doesn’t win championships. Teams win championships. And that’s just the way it should be.