The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

KAI IS THAT GUY

First years dominate men’s basketball
Kai Te Huki `27 leads the National Collegiate Athletic Association across divisions in average points scored per game and in three point attempts. He scored 30 of the Pioneers’ 111 points against Knox College on Jan. 23. (Marc Duebener)

With roughly four minutes left in Grinnell’s game against Knox, Kai Te Huki `27 stole the ball at midcourt and charged toward the opposition’s basket. Few in Darby Gymnasium expected him to take off five feet from the basket and dunk the ball, as a simple layup has a higher chance of going in, especially when Grinnell only led 95-90. After all, he had not dunked since the first few minutes of an away game against Lawrence University — nine games ago. 

Despite never living in the United States before coming to Grinnell from New Zealand, Te Huki has seemingly found a second home in Darby. He had often been the highest point contributor in the games preceding that dunk, and since then, he has only improved. 

Te Huki has only scored fewer than 20 points twice since that game against Lawrence and has scored more than 40 3 times, with a season-high 51 against Andrews University on Jan. 12. As of Feb. 1, he is currently ranked first in all divisions of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball in average points per game. 

Despite his clear offensive prowess, Te Huki emphasized the role his team plays in his success. “I think it’s a bit of a mental thing,” Te Huki said. 

“I think it comes from the backing of your team and the backing of your coach,” he added. “As long as they have faith in you to shoot as many shots as I do.”

Te Huki is right — he does take a lot of shots. As of Feb. 1, he is ranked second in field goal attempts and first in three-point attempts across all NCAA basketball divisions. 

As he approached the basket late in the Jan. 23 game against Knox, deciding whether to dunk or not, he had already attempted 15 field goals which led the team. Nearly half of those attempts passed through the net.

Jordan Lee `27 looks past an opponent in the Jan. 23 game against Knox College. Grinnell won 111-104. (Marc Duebener)

Fighting off a single opposing defender, Te Huki picked up his dribble, planted his foot and launched into the air. A split second later, the ball flew through the hoop, but not off the backboard — Te Huki had emphatically slammed the ball into the basket.

Five of our top six scorers are first-years and they’re really talented. They’re really competitive, they love the game, they love to compete. They want to do whatever it takes to help the team and help the team win.

— David Arseneault Jr. `09, head men’s basketball coach

Te Huki’s dunk made the crowd roar in excitement, with screams, applause and yells filling the gym, raising the volume by tens of decibels. Jordan Lee `27, point guard on Te Huki’s line, ran over to him and cheered him on. 

But Te Huki is not the only first-year with scoring ability. Lee and Gabe Garcia `27 ranks third and second in scoring on the team, respectively. 

Garcia commented on the responsibility he feels as a high scorer. “I want to show my teammates that I can handle that scenario,” Garcia said.  “And being in that pressure situation, being a freshman doesn’t mean I can’t handle it.” 

Garcia and Lee both showed the ability to handle pressure in the game against Knox — Lee made a critical 3-pointer with 39 seconds left in the game, giving Grinnell a 7-point lead and almost guaranteeing a win. Garcia followed shortly after by making 2 free throws with only 14 seconds left. 

Head coach David Arseneault Jr. `09 has not overlooked the skills of the first years.

“Five of our top six scorers are first-years and they’re really talented,” he said. “They’re really competitive, they love the game, they love to compete. They want to do whatever it takes to help the team and help the team win.” 

Gabe Garcia `27 goes for a dunk when warming-up for the Jan. 23 game against Knox College. (Marc Duebener)

Another one of those five top scorers is Ryan Tarighi `27, who Te Huki encouraged to shoot more often before the Knox game. In the two games following the win over Knox, Tarighi has been the top scorer behind Te Huki, with 11 points in a much-needed win against the top team in the conference, Illinois College, on Jan. 27. In the following Jan. 31 game against Cornell College, Tarighi again delivered with 13 points. 

The win against Cornell may be the best example of Te Huki’s dominance on the court. Grinnell was held to 91 points, an unusually low total for the Pioneers, but was 3 more than Cornell could muster. The rest of the Pioneers combined only outscored Te Huki by only 5 points — he had 43 and the rest had 48.

Even though they have already qualified for the Midwestern Conference playoffs, the Pioneers are back at Darby Gymnasium on Feb. 7 in a rematch against Illinois College, who are tied with Grinnell at the top of the conference. With a win, Grinnell would move into first alone, which, if maintained until the end of the season, would guarantee home court throughout the playoffs.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Henry Horn, Staff Writer
Henry Horn is a second-year history major from Pasadena, California. He likes riding his bike, listening to songs that don't belong together, and watching soccer. He can easily be bribed with Hot Tamales or a bloody mary sandwich with no tomato but with jalapeños from Jay's Deli.
Sadie Staker, Video Editor
Sadie Staker is a fourth year Sociology major with a concentration in Film and Media Studies. She is from Marion, Iowa, and enjoys walking outside, singing, and above all, eating ice cream.
Khanh Do, Visuals Editor
Khanh Do is a first-year Computer Science intended. She calls the famous melting pot of culture and food, Hanoi city, Vietnam, home, and so, as you can guess, she is *surviving* D-hall.
Marc Duebener, Staff Photographer
Marc Duebener is a first-year chemistry and economics major with a concentration in science, medicine and society. He says he is from Chicago, Illinois but really lives in the suburbs. On campus you can find Marc shooting sporting events and documentaries, studying in Noyce, or hitting the gym.
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

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