The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Men’s basketball experiences ups and downs during break

Jack Taylor ’15 and Luke Yeager ’15 trap a Blueboy on Thursday, Jan. 23. Photo by Sarah Trop.

The men’s basketball team has played six games since its return to the season on Saturday, Jan. 4, improving its record to 11-4. The recent string of games put the Pioneers in third place within the surprisingly competitive Midwest Conference.

The second half of the season started with a loss at Ripon 126-99, who the Pioneers will play again on Saturday, Jan. 25 this time at home.

Despite this early loss, the Pioneers found their shooting form again two days later with a 164-144 win over College of Faith. The game featured a stunning performance from point guard Pat Maher ’14, who broke the NCAA record for most assists in a single game held by his coach and former Pioneer, Dave Arseneault Jr. ’09. (See the sidebar on this page for more on Maher’s performance.)

Jack Taylor ’15 and Luke Yeager ’15 trap a Blueboy on Thursday, Jan. 23. Photo by Sarah Trop.
Jack Taylor ’15 and Luke Yeager ’15 trap a Blueboy on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Photo by Sarah Trop.

Aaron Levin ’14 scored 51 points and helped Maher achieve his record.

“We started hot,” Levin said of the team’s performance. “I think Pat’s record kind of helped us get going. It really built a lot of momentum.”

Indeed, the Pioneer men went on a roll at home, beating Knox College 124-85 on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and Carroll College 105-95 on Saturday, Jan. 11. They then took their shooting show on the road, earning an encouraging 118-97 win against Cornell College.

This form, however, did not continue as the Pioneers struggled the next two games. The first loss came in an away game on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc. with a final score of 111-94. The Pioneer men also lost the next game, which was at home, to Illinois College 98-75.

“These last two games, we’ve just sort of fallen into a funk. We’re really not sure what’s going on, but we’re regrouping the rest of this week,” Levin said.

Arseneault placed the blame directly on himself and his colleagues.

“[The loss against Illinois College] is on the coaching staff,” he said. “I did not have our team ready to play and I asked our guys to do some things that they just couldn’t do.”

The team finds itself in a tough spot as the season nears its end. Levin describes the upcoming game at home against Ripon as a “must-win” if the team is to hold a top-four spot, which would earn the Pioneers a trip to the playoffs.

For his part, Arseneault is confident in his ability to rally the team to a victory on Saturday.

“I can assure you that I will have our team better prepared for our home game on Saturday against Ripon College,” he insisted. “If we play to our potential, I have confidence that we’ll have the desired outcome.”

Maher hopes reflection on their recent losses, along with hard work, will bring them a victory.

“For right now, we can only look at ourselves, do our part [and] make sure that we’re doing our role,” he said.

The now record-breaking point guard insists that the recent losses are no reason to lose determination. Although he surmised that the losses might reflect a problem with the team’s non-stop pressing, Maher insisted that the team needs to play with confidence despite the slump.

“[The team] had an ‘off’ shooting streak, but our energy, our hustle and our focus need to be there every single game, whether shots are falling or not,” he added. “That’s just something that we need to get better at.”

Echoing his sentiment, Arseneault noted the highly interdependent nature of The System played by his team.

“The System only works when all five players on the court give maximal effort,” he said. “Therefore, everybody who steps on the floor is important to our success. Jack Taylor [’15] and Patrick Maher have garnered national attention with their record breaking performances, but we won’t make the post-season unless everybody buys into their role.”

In a team praised this year for individual records, the players and coaching staff are thinking only of teamwork going into the upcoming game. In this way, Maher’s record may be more telling of the team’s character than Taylor’s widely-reported shooting record. At Grinnell College, The System is more than the sum of its parts.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *