Grinnell’s goal is to shoot within 12 seconds of getting the ball, something borrowed in part from the breakneck system Paul Westhead installed at Loyola Marymount in the 1980s. The 3 is the shot of choice _ in fact, every player must shoot 100 3s every day in practice _ and the four guys who don’t shoot crash the boards. The Pioneers also press relentlessly on defense, hoping to force a turnover or a quick shot so they can get back to scoring more points.
The style demands fresh legs, and the Pioneers typically substitute every 60 seconds or so.
“It’s just something completely different than you face any other time you play,” said Brian Fincham, the coach at Faith Baptist Bible, a school in nearby Ankeny, Iowa, with fewer than 300 students. “If they’ve got a little bit of ability on you, it’s tough to keep up.”
When coach Dave Arseneault landed at Grinnell 24 years ago, he inherited a program that went from 1965 until 1994 without a winning season. Because of their high academic standards and rural location 50 miles east of Des Moines, winning basketball had simply eluded the Pioneers for decades.
Arsenault wanted to make up for Grinnell’s lack of athleticism and size, and make the game more fun. The Pioneers have won four conference championships with the pour-it-on style but have yet to win an NCAA tournament game, raising questions about whether the emphasis on scoring at the expense of defense and patience doesn’t reflect traditional basketball strategy and sportsmanship.
“Maybe they’re right,” said David N. Arseneault, the co-head coach and the Arseneault’s son. “But the way I look at it is … there’s no chance we would have been able to have even close to the amount of success we’ve had without this system.”
“A lot of people are saying it wasn’t the most team-oriented thing to do,” Taylor said. “But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the encouragement and support from my teammates.”
Taylor didn’t leave the game until the closing moments with his team up 70. Arsenault said he thought about pulling Taylor earlier, but after watching him drain six straight 3s in a two-minute span, he couldn’t bear to pull the plug on something so special.
“My thought was `Hey, man, the kid’s got it going. I’m going to let him go,’” he said.
Fincham said he wasn’t offended by Taylor’s pursuit of the record. In fact, Fincham decided at halftime that it would try to get at least 50 points for his own player, David Larson, who finished with the quietest 70-point night in the history of basketball. He broke the school record of 47 and gave his teammates a reason to hold their heads high.
“Our students come for ministry,” Fincham said. “They don’t come for basketball, obviously.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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