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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Arseneault’s son to Coach second half of season

After 23 years with Grinnell’s men’s basketball team, Head Coach David Arseneault will be handing the reins over to his son, Assistant Coach David N. Arseneault ’09, for the second half of the 2011-2012 season. The senior Arseneault plans to use his sabbatical to research and write a book on Grinnell Basketball’s renowned “System” of fast paced play.

Matt Skelley '12 dunks during practice. Photograph by Andrew Kelley.

“I tell people this all the time: my life is a holiday,” said Head Coach Arseneault. “I’ve had the chance to coach my son, I’ve had the chance to have him be my assistant and now I have the chance to see him make decisions. The time that we’ve spent together has been the best part of my coaching career.”

Assistant Coach Arseneault has been running the practices since the start of the year, to ensure that there is a clear chain of command before his father begins his sabbatical. But both coaches have been working hard to ensure the team’s success, given its experience and talent.

“We like to say that my dad’s got 49 percent, and I’ve got 51 percent of this year’s team,” said Assistant Coach Arseneault. “We’re returning 13 of our top 14 scorers, so as long as we’ve got the team chemistry down, we should have a great season.”

After playing as a point guard for Grinnell and graduating in 2009, Assistant Coach Arseneault spent a year in Germany’s semi-professional league. Although that experience was enjoyable, his return to Grinnell was especially exciting, because many of the players were his former teammates.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Team Captain Matt Skelly ’12, who lived on Assistant Coach Arseneault’s floor during his first year. “It’s great to see your friends do well, and he’s doing an absolutely outstanding job.”

The quality work has already become evident. Grinnell was voted first in an online poll for the Midwest Conference and hopes are high for post-season success.

“This has been the deepest team I’ve been on,” Skelly said. “We’ve got a lot of talented first years, and a lot of people coming back who were big contributors last year. If we stick to it, we should be strong contenders for the (Midwest Conference) Championship.”

One player in particular has been a standout to both coaches. Griffin Lentsch ’13 had a strong second year, consistently scoring over 20 points a game. This year, Head Coach Arsenault hopes to see him go All-American.

“Griffin’s got a good shot to lead the country in scoring if he stays healthy,” said Assistant Coach Arsenault. “We’ll give him some more playing time this year, which translates into more shooting opportunities and therefore more points.”

“I did a lot of one-on-one training over the summer, and I got in the weight room a lot,” Lentsch said. “It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in the offseason.”

Even with players like Lentsch leading the team’s effort, the job of coaching is still not always easy for the younger Arsenault.

“It’s more frustrating to be a coach. Instead of being on the court and just doing it, I have to be able to communicate with the guys. It’s a lot more difficult,” said Assistant Coach Arsenault. “The hardest decision is the roster, though. We started the season with 24 guys, and we had to cut it down to twenty. Plus, during games, we only play 15 to 16 guys. It’s hard to tell some of these guys that they won’t be in the rotation, and then telling them how to improve to get to that level.”

However, his father has expressed absolute confidence in his ability to handle the harder aspects of the job.

“It’s going to be interesting when we get to the final two minutes of a game,” said Head Coach Arsenault. “That’s when I what to see how the wheels are turning—who he wants on the floor and who he wants shooting the ball. In some ways, he knows Grinnell’s System more than I do, so it will be great to see how he handles it.”

As his father works on his book on the System, the younger Arsenault will be putting it into action on the court, in an entirely new capacity. He will be one of the first people who both played with the fast-paced offense and then implemented it as a coach. It also helps that he was present for its creation and development.

“When he was finally able to play, he was able to do it with an IQ level that we’ve never had before. I’m very jealous of the fact that he can see things differently as a player, so I’m interested about how he will make different decisions,” said Head Coach Arsenault.

Eventually, Head Coach Arsenault hopes to finish his book and make a return to work at Grinnell. However, he envisions a slightly different future for his own career.

“My ultimate goal is to eventually be his assistant coach.”

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