Iowa Athlete’s Historic Performance Still Admired and Vilified
There are those who want to mark the 10th anniversary of Jack Taylor's historic feat with an asterisk, but it's hard to deny the teamwork and talent it took for him to achieve it.
On November 20, 2012, the Grinnell basketball player scored an NCAA record 138 points--by himself--in a game. As ESPN reported, the likes of the legendary late Kobe Bryant and LeBron James stood in awe as they had never even achieved such a feat (also, neither of them ever played in college). He got the attention of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, and national networks and publications picked up the story.
Then, the naysayers appeared. Either because Grinnell is "just" a Division III school, or because of grumblings that Taylor got to his 138 points by seemingly monopolizing the game, with the help and blessing of his coaches and teammates. In another game, Taylor single-handedly scored 109 points, but there was a system at Grinnell where this "running up the score" is allegedly a way of life, or at the very least the typical gameplan.
It's a philosophy known as the "Grinnell System" that relies on rapid rotations of players to keep them fresh, and a focus on three-point shooting, making such high scoring possible. But some say it's an unfair system.
Once the adrenaline rush of his achievement wore off, out came the critics. The team he did it against was Faith Baptist Bible College, who had already been on a 10-game losing streak. Taylor had 58 points at halftime (80 in the second half). He ended up making 52 out of 102 shots, and 27 made three-pointers out of 71 tries.
A former Iowa State basketball player even had a few choice words, or just one, as according to ESPN, DeAndre Kane called Taylor's effort "weak." All around, the ethics of the "Grinnell system" were questioned from multiple circles.
Ryan Kane, who was coach at Ripon College when they also played Grinnell that season, said to ESPN:
When they broke off from the way that they normally play to try to achieve a record, and they're going to specifically single one player out to try to score all the points against an inferior opponent just to gain some notoriety, [it] probably raised the eyebrows of a few people inside the industry
The record still stands and the outcome of the game still counts, but Taylor had to leave basketball behind for a while because the notoriety (good and bad) apparently became too overwhelming.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, Taylor recently returned to his "alma mater" where he was snuck into an open gym practice to play a trick on current players. In a medical mask meant to disguise him and act as a precautionary measure (remember COVID?), Taylor played alongside the current team, with his old coach David Arseneault Sr. in the stands. It was indeed an opportunity to get his "mojo" back in front of a more appreciative group.
Taylor now runs a video production company in Wisconsin.