Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Anniversary ...

... to young David Arsenault! (I sound as if I should be on "PTI," don't I?)

On this date two years ago, the son of Coach A set an all-division NCAA record with 34 assists in a single game. Yep, you read that correctly, 34 assists in one game. An amazing performance, yet those aren't the only numbers from his stat line that night that jump out at you.

He played 38 minutes, which is about double what a point guard normally sees in "The System." He also had only two turnovers, which gave him an amazing 17-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio for that game. Pretty sweet.

The Pioneers went on to beat North Central University 151-112 that night, with John Grotberg leading the way with 49 points. Talk about numbers: Grotberg finished 14-of-38 on 3-pointers in that one, and as a team, Grinnell was 23-for-86 from beyond the arc. Overall, the Pioneers put up 129 shots.

When I was in Grinnell over the weekend, I had a chance to talk to Dave and Coach A about that performance, and the help he got from his teammates to make it happen. Here's some snippets of that conversation:

Dave Arsenault: "I can tell you, I didn't do anything defensively. I was by far the worst defensive player in that game that we've ever had. It was fun, and it was interesting. All the guys were supportive of the idea, because going into the game, we had the idea that I would play up front on the press, and John also was going to play up front on the press. So that meant we were going to have big nights.

"The other guys bought into it, worked hard during the game, and made sure that everything we were doing was revolving around that game plan. Which was great, to have everyone be supportive of that, instead of thinking, 'Gosh, I wish that could be me up there,' they were buying into what we were doing as a team."

Coach A: "He took some heat on that, from some people. What those people fail to understand is that it set David off on a stretch of play where he played better than he can for about 10 straight games. People don't understand that, statistically, if you can get people to reach for the stars, and then achieve it, they can start being better than they are.

"Our level of play gets better when our best players are statistically significant. You can't explain that to people. Even though it was somewhat manufactured, the reality is that every time we've done that for somebody, it's been a long-term positive for the group."

Grinnell did the same for Jeff Clement back in 1998, when he scored a Division III record 77 points against Illinois College. On that night, Clement didn't cross halfcourt on defense and played all 40 minutes, finishing 19-for-52 on 3s.

So congratulations again, Dave. You earned it.

Oh, and FYI, the Pioneers' trip to Knox College on Wednesday night has been postponed due to some inclement weather in that region. Apparently, Tim and I got out of town just in time. They hope to play that game Thursday, when Grinnell (1-6, 0-2 Midwest Conference) will be trying to snap a six-game losing streak. Good luck, fellas.

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