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Alum authors book on Jack Taylor, The System

Photo contributed.

Following his record-setting basketball game in 2012, Jack Taylor ’15 has been interviewed on national news time after time. Articles have been written attacking and defending him. He has trended nationally on Twitter. And now he’s the subject of a new book that explores his historic performance.

Written by Ross Preston ’10, “The Road to 138” focuses on the team’s rapid style of play, known as The System, which involves shooting three-pointers, applying constant pressure and making frequent player substitutions. Printed by Curiosity Publishing, the book will be available Tuesday, Sept. 23.

According to Preston, it was “one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.”

Preston played four years of Pioneer basketball at Grinnell from 2006 to 2010, and then he came back for more. After graduation, he stayed in contact with Grinnell men’s basketball head coach David Arseneault, who developed The System.

“Coach Arseneault got in touch with me because he was writing his own book,” Preston said. “And I was helping edit and put finishing touches on it.”

Arseneault has also written two books on The System. “The Running Game: A Formula for Success” was published in 1997 when the play style was first gaining traction. His second book, called “System Successes” and published in 2013, is about coaches from various levels who have adopted The System.

“The Road to 138” began as a collaborative effort between Arseneault and Preston, although the idea was something Preston had already been toying with.

“It was an idea I had even when I was a student,” Preston said.

Preston was following the team for the 2012-2013 season and was there when Taylor scored his record-breaking 138 points in one game.

Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on a basketball court,” Preston said.

Preston’s book focuses on The System as it works in the Grinnell College men’s team exclusively, and the lead up to the record-setting night, in contrast with Arseneault’s books that deal more broadly with The System.

“When Jack Taylor had his incredible moment we both agreed that he should focus on that story instead,” Arseneault wrote in an email to The S&B.

Taylor was also able to get a sneak peek of the book, which he enjoyed.

“I was impressed because Ross not only writes well but knows the game of basketball and The System in particular since he played four years of college basketball at Grinnell College,” Taylor said.

Preston hopes college basketball aficionados, coaches, players and casual readers alike will enjoy the book. He intended for his writing to be a mixture of technical information and entertaining anecdotes.

“I want it to be a wonderful story that also has a lot of technical information for [those who are interested in that side],” Preston said. “I hope that there will be some people who read this book and enjoy it who normally don’t read sports books.”

The publisher’s description of the book says that Preston answers questions such as “What makes ‘The System’ so different? How does it work? Why do so many people seem to hate it?” But Preston and others are neither trying to convert anyone nor vehemently defend The System.

“I don’t really care if people like what we do or not. I know that my former players have loved being a part of our unique program and that is what matters most to me,” Arseneault wrote.

Taylor agreed. “I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to play the game of basketball and I think the criticism is based on personal preference. If you’re a fan of what we do, great. If not, that’s fine too,” he said.

However, the book may help clear up issues with The System that result from misinformation.

“I think it’s a great idea for basketball fans to have an understanding about what took place that night and what this System is about. There are so many misconceptions about our program that I think will be corrected with Ross’s new book,” Taylor said.

Arseneault is also looking forward to the book’s release. “I think Ross did a wonderful job with this story.”

Print editions of “The Road to 138” will be available Tuesday, Sept. 23. Pre-order for the book is currently available at

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