The Jack Taylor era is officially over, but the Grinnell basketball team shows no signs of slowing down. The Pioneers have started this season right where they left off from last year’s specular run, going 2-1 in their first week of action, beating both Silver Lake College and Crossroads College by convincing margins.
Julian Marx ’17 and Kyle Parker ’17 paced the Pioneers in their first victory, with 31 points apiece against Silver Lake College as the Pioneers cruised to a 125-90 victory in front of a home crowd at Darby Gymnasium.
“We played with a lot of energy. A lot of guys just played really well individually and we were able to come together as a team and make a lot of good, unselfish plays,” Marx said.
Ky-Sean Johnson ’19 led the way with 22 points in the game against Crossroads, in which Grinnell won 102-75, a great sign considering how many Pioneers graduated last year.
“Ky-Sean has been doing a great job of scoring and also making plays for others,” Marx said of the Johnson’s production.
Grinnell had an excellent chance to improve to 3-0 against Wartburg College at home on Tuesday when the Pioneers were leading by double digits during the first half. However, Grinnell came out flat in the second half and Wartburg took advantage, outscoring the Pioneers 55-33. The final score went 105-91 to Wartburg.
Head coach David Arseneault was obviously unhappy with the lack of offensive production in the game against Wartburg.
“Right now our offense is behind our defense. So for the next month as we stabilize our playing rotation we will focus on creating offensive synergy within each group,” Arseneault wrote in an email to The S&B.
Despite the loss on Tuesday, Parker and Marx both had extraordinary weeks. The two players led the team in minutes played and points scored with 75 and 64, respectively. However, when asked to comment on their performance, both accredited the team performance over their own.
“[My success is] mostly due to my teammates getting me open screening, passing me the ball when I’m open and when I miss, getting the ball back to me. They did the dirty work,” Parker said.
Marx echoed these sentiments.
“My teammates just put me in a place to succeed. Guys like Braedon [Bayer] and Vinny [Curta ’19] throwing great passes and guys like Nick [Curta ’17] and Jacob [Ekstrand ’18] setting great screens. I’m glad I was able to be the beneficiary of that,” he said.
Grinnell has had to adjust to losing a number of key contributors who graduated last year, specifically top scorers Luke Yeager ’15 and Jack Taylor ’15.
“Losing a pair of scorers like Jack Taylor and Luke Yeager is a challenge. We are grooming their heirs but it will take some time,” Arsenault wrote.
Parker is optimistic about the Pioneers ability to thrive despite the loss of 2015 talent.
“It is a matter of filling in different spots. We have a lot of depth this year so I think we will be okay,” he said.
Basketball fans do not have to wait long to see the Pioneers in action as Grinnell hosts Colorado College on Sunday at noon in Darby Gym.