Grinnell player scores 138 points; everyone loses
That was a bully move by Grinnell College on Tuesday night, by the player who did it and by the coach who wanted it to happen.
Bullies come in all shapes and size. Man, woman. Adult, child. Criminal and non-criminal. Athletes can be bullies, too. So can coaches.
A bully move is, at heart, the act of lording over someone else -- dominating someone else -- because you can. You take their sandwich at lunch. Push them down at recess. Laugh at them in the school hallway.
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Score 138 points at the gym.
That was a bully move by Grinnell College on Tuesday night, by the player who did it and by the coach who wanted it to happen. Don't get lost in comparisons -- Are you saying that scoring 138 points is the same as beating up a smaller kid? -- because not all bully moves are the same.
But that was a bully move, scoring 138 points simply because you can. Grinnell didn't need 138 points from Jack Taylor to beat Faith Baptist Bible; they won by 75. They got 138 points from Taylor because the coach at Grinnell, David Arseneault, wanted some headlines -- here I am, giving him another one -- and because the kid, Taylor, didn't have the character to say no.
Grinnell won 179-104, and that 104 scored by Faith Baptist doesn't mean the school is good at basketball. It means Grinnell stopped playing defense once Faith crossed halfcourt. Grinnell didn't entirely quit defending -- it was pressing the whole game -- but its plan was to force a turnover in the backcourt (and get the ball to Taylor for another shot) or give Faith a layup and hurry the ball back up the court (and get the ball to Taylor for another shot).
That's Grinnell's style of play, and while I wouldn't want to coach that style, my problem isn't with the style itself. My problem is with the nature of this scoring onslaught, the way Arseneault identified Faith Baptist as a weaker team, a blank canvas upon which he could let Taylor paint a masterpiece.
Had the score been close at the end, and Taylor was still playing -- and still shooting -- because Grinnell needed it to win, I'd have no problem with what happened. But that's not what happened. Grinnell was winning in a blowout, but Taylor kept shooting. Why? Because Arsenault wanted the attention, and because Taylor didn't have the character to say no.
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