Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Part 2: Jack Taylor's record performance misses the point

By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)

(Author’s Note:  This column is long.  Please stick with it.  It gets better at the end.) 

Well, a lot of new information has come out since the initial this-is-wonderful reaction to Jack Taylor, a 22-year-old sophomore, scoring 138 points in a college basketball game against non-NCAA school Faith Baptist Bible College on November 20, 2012 (final score, Grinnell 179, Faith Baptist 104).


With the full game now up on You Tube (courtesy of Grinell Pioneers Athletics, by the way), much can be learned by watching the game and listening to the announcers.  The most interesting thing?  Well, it is submitted that this is the most interesting thing discussed during the game by the announcers:

“An interesting note here, Grinnell, this game will count for their season wins and losses but for Faith Baptist this will be counted as an exhibition game for their record.  Today I’ve been told that our athletic director and head coach were confirming to make sure that, although this will not be going on Faith Baptist’s record, it can still count for Grinnell and IT IS CONFIRMED THAT IT WILL STILL COUNT FOR GRINNELL.” (emphasis added).

Hard to believe, but, obviously, the coach and AD, realizing that they could script the game against a very weak opponent, actually called somebody (presumably at the NCAA) to make sure that this shooting-fish-in-a-barrel game, DESPITE being an exhibition game for the opposition, would still count in terms of wins, points, and oh yes, records, for Grinnell.


Well, hopefully, one of these major institutions (you know, ESPN, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, etc.) with big “investigative reporting” budgets and/or great access can delve into this question.

While there are many other things to discuss (including, see below, did Jack Taylor start believing his press clippings?), this main question (how is this even a real basketball game against a college team that, in their mind, is playing an exhibition game and is a college that plays in the NCCAA (that is, the National Christian College Athletics Association – not to be confused with the NCAA)) should be answered.


Special thanks to Deadspin, Tyler Burns and @Busted Video for being on the downside of this game from the get-go.  Before the game, when asked what Grinnell fans should look forward to in this game, the color commentator (named Dan) said: “Tonight, Rob [the play-by-play guy], we are looking for records, we want to see points scored and a lot of them.”  Rob then said: “Tonight that record [89 points in a D III game held by Grinnell senior Griffin Lentsch] was going to be attempted possibly to be broken by another Grinnell member, not Griffin Lentsch, but new transfer sophomore Jack Taylor,”

Clearly, everybody on the Grinnell side knew this was a joke game and they were going to shoot for many records, Bible College or no Bible College.

But wait, there’s more.  Early in the game (and forgive the grammar or lack thereof), an announcer said, “The plan would be to try and see how as much as he [Taylor] can score.”  And this gem: “This is a game that the [Grinnell] Pioneers scheduled.  They’ll try and look for those records.”

Anybody getting disturbed yet?

The first time an announcer mentioned the word “blowout” was with about 8:30 left – in the first half (Grinnell was up about 33 at the time).  Shortly thereafter, the announcer mentioned that there were “bone-chilling chants of GC pride”  (Grinnell College pride).

There were some (unintentionally, it is assumed) comical statements during the game.  About 9:30 into the game, Grinnell called timeout because, according to an announcer, “Grinnell’s coaches not appreciating the recent lack of defense.” Well, it’s part of the plan, apparently, to try to press and steal and, it seems, to NOT play defense if the other team breaks the press.  The score when this timeout was called was 33-12.  Late in the game, an announcer said, “At this point, Grinnell’s not even playing defense,” which, one would guess, was a downtick from their prior barely playing defense.

When Taylor scored his 100th point, an announcer said, “Wilt Chamberlain, what do you gotta say.”

Seriously.  As you may know, Wilt was not available for comment.

When the game ended, announcer Rob said that he was “speechless.”  Shortly thereafter, however, he said, “All I have to say is GC pride, GC pride, GC pride.” 

It would have been better if he had remained speechless.

One other comical note: when the game ended, announcer Rob said, “and the fans are mildly storming the court – more like walking out there.”  The view on You Tube of a little more than half of the court showed two students on the court.

Hey, maybe some of the intelligent Grinnell students (Grinnell, a fantastic liberal arts college) actually understood that maybe, just maybe, this was unsportsmanlike?
 Here’s hoping.


Interviewed by the New York Times, Faith Baptist coach Brian Finchum said “we tried” and “I’m proud of my guys and the effort they put in.”  He also said that they double and triple-teamed Jack Taylor at times.

But a review of the game tape shows that, of Jack Taylor’s 108 shots, he was double or triple-teamed less than 10 times (it’s probably six, but some of the You Tube video seemed to freeze in certain spots (despite multiple viewings on two different computers), so it’s not perfectly clear).  Finchum apparently was never asked things like, why didn’t you go box-and-one or why didn’t you run the shot clock down at least once in the entire game or why didn’t you just throw two or even three guys at Jack Taylor to make him give up the ball (hey, he might have gotten one assist that way).

None of the above suggestions (that a rec league coach probably would have tried) was tried by Faith Baptist.

Hey, maybe the Faith Baptist coach was playing the game like an exhibition (or is that half an exhibition; it’s still not clear).


Lentsch, the previous record-holder in D III (89 points in a game last year against Principia), was actually announced as the team’s “shooting guard.”  Lentsch shot 2-3 from the field and made two foul shots for seven points against Faith Baptist.

In another unintentional comedic comment, one announcer said that Lentsch “has been uncharacteristically quiet this game.”

You think?


As pointed out by Derek C in a comment to my first article last week, Larson was the recipient and beneficiary of Grinnell’s “system.”  You know, essentially no defense.  So, while Larson did make 34-44 from the field, the overwhelming majority of them were lay-ups.  Despite my thoughts originally that this could be a debate (who had the better game), Jack Taylor clearly had a better game than Larson.


Well, he had some shaky comments after the game.  He told the Times he was going to take Taylor out with about five minutes left but he was on a hot shooting streak.  He told the Times, “I wasn’t going to take a guy out who was in the zone.  I’ve never been in a zone like that, and if I was I certainly wouldn’t want my coach to end it for me.  So we just let him go.”

Gee, coach, even if he already had over 100 and your team was up 60 or more?

Actually, a look at the play-by-play shows that this is simply untrue.  At the five-minutes left in the game mark, Taylor had been just 2-6 in the previous 1:43.  Under no definition of “in the zone” was Taylor in the zone at that time.  Indeed, he would make SEVEN threes in a row from 3:54 left in the game until 1:57 left in the game (by the way, for the record, Grinnell kept its full-court press on after all seven threes; hey, that’s just how they play).  Given his New York Times comments, it’s surprising that the coach took Taylor out of the game with 1:33 left because THAT was when he was REALLY in the zone.


Well, they wrapped themselves around this “achievement.”  Grinnell posted videos, etc. to publicize the achievement.  But wait, there’s more.  Grinnell’s media relations department put out a press release entitled “Grinnell College by the Numbers – 138 and More.”  It explains some of the greatness of Grinnell academically, presumably to get the word out on what a fine academic institution it is (and it is).

Maybe Grinnell should have put out a copy of its “Mission Statement” instead.  Originally chartered in Iowa in 1846, that original statement set forth a mission to educate its students “for the different professions and for the honorable discharge of the duties of life.”  The 2002 statement, up at Grinnell’s website, concludes with “The College aims to graduate men and women … who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.”

By the way, did anybody notice that the New York Times reported that, the day after the event, Jack Taylor had to take a two-hour break from doing interviews to attend two college classes, one of which was “Introduction to Christianity.”

Is there a conflict there, between scoring 108 points against a Bible College, taking all of the accolades and then, the next day, going to Intro to Christianity. 

Was that really the “Christian thing to do?”

Just asking.


Well, on Rick Wolff’s Sports Edge show this past weekend, virtually all of the callers were disgusted with the record, one even suggesting that his team would have gone after Jack Taylor, maybe even hurt him.  While that happens in the schoolyards of New York City on a not-infrequent basis, hard to believe that Faith Baptist Bible College would do that.

But Jack Taylor seemed to start believing his press clippings.  Interviewed by ESPN a few days after the game, Taylor actually said the following:  “I think I was just in that mental state to where it really didn’t matter what the defense did.”

Come back to us, Jack.  You were pretty cool before that statement.  And as we said repeatedly on Rick Wolff’s Sports Edge show (up under Rick Wolff’s picture at, nobody could blame Jack Taylor.  He did what the coaches wanted him to do.

But after that statement, he should take a step back.  The defense (and the Faith Baptist coach) did virtually NOTHING to stop Jack Taylor.  Very few double teams (less than 10 on 108 shots), no box-and-one, no 30-35 second possessions (NONE), no run two guys at him to make him give up the ball.

Frankly, the fish in a barrel had a better chance.


A basketball team with 10 kids of 275-300 enrolled in a Bible College, playing an exhibition game, was torched by a very good shooter whose coach and AD called in advance to “confirm” that any records set that night would be valid.  They were inexplicably told that they would be valid (real game for one team, exhibition game for another).  So, Grinnell College, apparently, reached the goals they wanted to attain by winning 179-104 and having one player score 138 points.

Just as Part I concluded, draw your own conclusions.  


The goal of letting Jack Taylor take a ton of shots against Faith Baptist Bible College was, according to many, to let Jack Taylor “shoot himself out of” his shooting slump.  It apparently did not work.  Taylor shot just 6-21 (29%), 3-13 on threes (23%), against a good William Penn (Iowa) team as Grinnell lost it’s next game, 131-116.

Does Grinnell play Faith Baptist Bible College again this season?

That’s a rhetorical question.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Jim Schwartz and the NFL: Dumb and Dumber

By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)

Well, you can’t make this stuff up.  By now you’ve seen the play in Texans-Lions on Thanksgiving: 3rd quarter, Lions up 10, Houston’s Justin Forsett runs it up the middle and gets tackled about seven yards downfield.

Except, according to the officials, despite his elbow and knee touching the ground, he didn’t get tackled.  Forsett gets up and keeps on running for an 81-yard TD.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz throws the red challenge flag and then the Alice-in-Wonderland Through-the NFL-Looking-Glass takes over.

Clearly Forsett was down and, since every scoring play is now reviewed in the NFL, clearly it would be overturned on review.  This is exactly what NFL replay was invented to correct:  an obvious mistake by officials.

But not in today’s NFL.  When a coach challenges a scoring play, not only is it a 15-yard penalty, but also the upcoming review is not allowed to take place.

Talk about the NFL cutting off its nose to spite its face.


It’s hard to believe that an NFL head coach in 2012 could so easily lose his mind and turn a seven-yard run into an 81-yard touchdown.  But that’s exactly what Jim Schwartz did.  We already know that Schwartz is a macho man with a short temper: remember the embarrassing (on both sides) handshake between Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers last year?  What a disgrace.

What did Schwartz say after the game?  “I was so mad that I overreacted.”

You think?

How can you expect a team of players to play and keep their heads and keep their cool when you have a guy like Schwartz on the sidelines.  Emotion is one thing; stupidity quite another.  Maybe that lack of control by an NFL head coach leads to the embarrassing on-field activities of an excellent player like Ndamukong Sue (last Thanksgiving, Suh stomped a Green Bay blocker out of frustration; this Thanksgiving, he kicked Houston QB Matt Schaub in the groin and is waiting to see if the NFL takes any action against him).

What’s the solution?  Well, that’s actually pretty easy.  These coaches who can’t control themselves in big-game situations simply need to hire a football guy with a brain who knows the rules AND can keep his head.  Let that guy hold the red challenge flag.  Take it out of the hands of the over-the-top emotional coach.  We are not talking about a young football player a year or two out of college.  We are talking about a grown man who simply reacted like a 12-year-old because he “was so mad.”

Hard to believe, but that was a major play that contributed mightily to the Lions losing the game to the Texans and all but eliminating themselves from playoff contention.


As dumb as Jim Schwartz might be, the NFL is dumber.  It’s been a bad year for the hierarchy of the NFL, which can’t kill the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg no matter how hard they try.  From the absurdity of the replacement refs (nickel and diming the real refs) to the stupidity of the over-the-top penalty of not allowing a review because a coach throws the challenge flag (it should just be a penalty, not an elimination of the review, if the NFL’s goal is to, you know, actually get the play RIGHT).

Throw in what is far worse, the NFL’s  (until recently) blindness to the scary concussion issues in football (at all levels), and to say the NFL is having a bad year is an understatement.  With thousands of former players suing the league, and with the new information that doctors examining NFL players (like Mike Webster of the Steelers) recognized fully that repeated blows to the head in NFL games did (and does) cause concussions and serious brain trauma, well, it’s only a matter of time before the NFL takes an incredible financial/ integrity hit to its already shaky reputation.

But just to focus on this stupid challenge rule, which should be amended this week (not next year), the notion that a coach (or anybody) as a penalty (on top of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty) can negate a review of a scoring play (and, this season, a turnover) is so incredibly wrong-headed that it’s hard to describe how stupid it is.

Maybe throwing out the baby with the bath water?

In the law, there is a centuries-old statement that says you shouldn’t “let the law make an ass of itself.”  It’s applicable when it is clear, from a common-sense perspective, that a particular legal ruling makes no sense at all and should not be allowed.

Well, in this instance (Schwartz’s throwing the challenge flag when he was not allowed to), the NFL has made an ass of itself, by eliminating replay of an obvious mistake call (non-call) by officials.

While nobody outside of Detroit wants to help Jim Schwartz or the Lions, the reality is a terrible non-call was made (by the real officials, by the way), the NFL had instituted a way to easily correct the mistake and, poof, eliminated its own safe guards to protect against terrible (game-changing) calls because an uncontrollable coach lost his mind.

That shouldn’t be the intention of the rule. 

But that’s the result.

Dumb and dumber.  You can’t make it up.

Friday, November 23, 2012

NCAA Week 13 picks

By Rick Morris
NOTE: 4-1 last week, 38-22 for the season
Ohio State -4 over Michigan
Georgia Tech +14 ½ over Georgia
Wisconsin +2 over Penn State
Alabama -33 over Auburn
USC +5 ½ over Notre Dame

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #217 – NFL Week 12 fantasy football

By Rick Morris
Here is the 217th mini-episode of THE FDH LOUNGE with THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER.  In this one, we preview the NFL Week 12 fantasy football landscape.

Lounge on YouTube: 2012 NFL Week 12 picks

By Rick Morris
Here is Mini-Episode #216 of THE FDH LOUNGE, a preview of the NFL Week 12 slate with FDH Lounge Dignitary Kyle Ross.