So by this point, if you haven’t heard, there is a legend living among you. He walks down your loggia, eats in your dining hall and goes to class in the same academic buildings you do. His name is Jack Taylor ’15 and last Tuesday, he scored 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible College. Yep, 138. That’s quite a few. As a matter of fact, it is the most ever.
It is not surprising that Jack’s performance has drawn a lot of attention to himself, the system that the team runs, and the school. However, there has been a surprising amount of criticism. ESPN analysts and Deadspin writers, among others, have all had some harsh words to say about this unbelievable scoring output. There are people attacking the lack of passing and defense, and the overall style of offense, claiming it is a mockery of the sport.
In all honesty, I agree with a lot of what people had to say. I feel like a pretentious basketball know-it-all saying this, but it is a bit crazy. The team literally pulled defenders off of the opponent so they could get quick layups. Jack was sitting on the other end waiting for a quick outlet pass to shoot one of his 71 three pointers. The style of play is disrespectful. It is a bit video game-esque, but very entertaining for the fans. And that was the whole point, break some records and excite the home crowd. And it worked. Give a ton of credit to Jack; he played 36 out of 40 minutes and he hit his shots. That takes some serious endurance, confidence, and cold-bloodedness. I mean at some point, the fact that you are about to shatter records has to pop up in your mind. That would throw a lot of people off their game, but not Jack.
I don’t think it is fair at all to criticize Taylor for this performance. If you have to attack something, attack The System. But is that even fair? I mean, yes it is not standard by any means. The common understanding is that defense wins championships. And that is true at the NBA level. You don’t see the Warriors ever doing well, do you? That run-and-gun style of play is ineffective against teams of that caliber. But this is a Division III college team. It is an entirely different ballgame. And who cares how they win games? They just do. What matters is that Jack still had to knock down his shots and he did.
So regardless of my feelings about The System, Jack Taylor deserves a lot of credit. So does the entire roster. That type of performance takes a complete team effort. Everyone has to put their ego aside and find the shooter. And no doubt the shooter was on fire. He clearly has a great jumper, but it was not just catch-and-shoot. He created his own shot, breaking double teams often and triple teams occasionally. He was not just getting lucky and throwing up prayers, he was finding his own shot and beating people off the dribble. He has a nice crossover and step back to free himself up and his unselfish teammates absolutely catalyzed this performance.
More importantly, this game is one of the most historic single player performances in sports. The whole basketball world was aware of Jack’s big game. Any time you are getting interviewed on ESPN or the Dan Patrick Show you know it is a pretty huge deal. LeBron told ESPN “I watched Kobe’s game when he had 81. I watched some of the greatest games ever played when guys scored big numbers. There’s two games that I would love to see: One was Wilt, when he had 100, and this kid, I want to see him, too. Sir Jack.” That type of appreciation from LeBron makes it pretty clear how impressive this game was.
138 points is a LOT. If he were to score 38 points, that would have been a big performance. Michael Jordan’s most was 69 points in a single game. That would have been absolutely incredible. Kobe’s single game career high is 81, which if matched would have been a huge deal. Breaking teammate Griffin Lentsch’s record of 89 and Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points in a single game would have been global news. But 138 is by far one of the most unbelievable and shocking statlines in the history of sports. Jack Taylor broke a record set in 1954, and it won’t be broken again for a very long time if ever. It is a huge milestone for the game of basketball; so don’t criticize Jack, or The System for that matter.
Whatever your opinion is about how basketball should be played, other people have their own. Coach David Arsenault Sr. developed his own style and it is creative enough to draw attention from the entire basketball world. It is not orthodox and it is not necessarily realistic at the highest level. But it worked last Tuesday, better than it has before, and Jack Taylor has 138 points and a record in the books to show for it.