The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Basketball Pioneers are the Team of the Future

Kramer’s Rules (do you guys get the math joke, by the way?) is usually dedicated to, in order, my narcissism and the national sports scene. With my immense level of sports expertise and training (I played middle school basketball and I read frequently), I like to sound off on the same issues as highly-paid TV analysts like Lou Holtz, Dick Vitale or (shudder) Charles Barkley, but with less florid idioms and a better vocabulary. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it was time to give some love to a couple of cutie-pies rather than myself or a nationally-known athlete. It’s time to give some credit to the purest form of college sports, Division III, and send a valentine to the Grinnell Men’s Basketball team. And don’t worry—this valentine doesn’t feature the Jonas Brothers. Especially not Kevin. 

It may seem an odd time to choo-choo-choose the Pioneers, since this has not been a marquee year. Their record currently stands at 5-14 overall, 3-9 in Midwest Conference games with four such games remaining, though only three by the time we go to print. The Pioneers are, however, likely to avoid last place in the conference as two of those remaining contests are against MWC cellar-dweller Knox College (2-17). If those presumptive wins aren’t consolation enough for Grinnell basketball fans, one need only examine the Pioneers’ roster to find a yet more optimistic picture. After having to replace the top three scorers, John Grotberg, Bobby Long and Davey Arsenault, all of which averaged more than 20 points a game, from last year’s conference co-championship team, this year’s squad will lose only two seniors from its 19-man roster. The top six scorers will all return, including guards Griffin Lentsch ’13 (18.1 ppg), Matt Skelley ’12 (16.0 ppg) and Dylan Seelman ’13 (14.2 ppg). With formidable offensive production from such young players, we need only grab some plutonium from a corner drugstore and hop in my Delorean to see the 2011 Pioneers boisterously celebrating their MWC championship in Darby. I may be wrong about the team’s overall success next season—we may have to hit 88 mph again and check out 2012, instead. 

But I’m steadfast in my belief that next year will be fun to watch. The balanced offense provided by the development of so many young scorers, along with the offensive rebounding of big men like Kale Knisley (5.1 rpg), will bring Grinnell back to its rightful place as national scoring leader. My point in previewing next season before this one has even finished is not to write off this season as a lost cause or in any way denigrate the hard work put forth by all the players and the coaching staff for so long. Rather, I think we, as a student body, need to come out and support the men’s team in their last home game on Saturday, Feb 20 at 4 p.m. against Monmouth’s Fightin’ Scots in Darby Gymnasium. At Grinnell, basketball is our sport. We have a strong winning tradition despite academic standards, both for admissions and in the classroom, that put much of the conference to shame, and the team is featured in national media from time to time for its high-scoring ways. If we can provide the kind of fan support that will make Darby the toughest place to play in the Midwest, there’s no limit (pun intended) to what they Pioneers can accomplish. So let’s come out in droves on the 20th and cheer the Pioneers to victory. 

Additionally, the Grinnell Women’s Basketball team has also had a tough season and is deserving of our support—their last game is the same day at 2 p.m., also against Monmouth. Some possible ideas for signs to display at the game include: “Fightin’ Sucks” (not derogatory—pacifist) and “Not Even a Safety School” (to encourage the Scots to adopt better campus safety practices).     Finally, their slogan seems to be “Monmouth—What college was meant to be,” which begs the response, “Monmouth—What high school was meant to be.” 

Of arguably more global importance than Grinnell’s upcoming double-header against Monmouth, the 2010 Winter Olympics kick off this week in Vancouver. I, for one, am excited to root on Team USA in such riveting events as curling, speed skating and, my favorite, the biathlon. Home Depot’s enthusiasm, however, seems to have faltered as it has dropped its sponsorship of the Olympics this year. I’m saddened that we will no longer hear the inspiring tales of Home Depot employees past and present (Bode Miller) winning Olympic gold. 

Lastly, I’d like to wish luck to the Grinnell Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams, which will travel to Appleton, Wisc. to compete for their respective 8th and 11th consecutive conference titles. I’m hoping they’ll throw up the dynasty sign à la Jay-Z after they take home the hardware.

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