Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grinnell moves to 4-0 with road victory

The shots might not be falling as much as coach David Arseneault would like, yet the NCAA Division III Grinnell Pioneers improved to 4-0 with a 100-83 victory at Wartburg on Saturday night, the first one on the road for the nation's highest-scoring team.

Talk about balance -- Matt Skelly led five players in double figures with 16 points (4-of-7 on 3-pointers), with Matt Chalupa (12), Marques Valdez (11), Griffin Lentsch (10) and Jesse Ney (10) getting in on the fun, as well. Lentsch played 17 minutes, the most of anyone, and 13 other players got at least 10 minutes of run. In all, 18 players got on the floor for the Pioneers, who set an all-division NCAA record in their previous game when 19 different players made a 3.

No such luck in this one, not that it mattered. Grinnell finished 14-for-46 from beyond the arc, with Lentsch, Ney, Chalupa and freshman Aaron Levin making two in addition to Skelly's outburst. Here are your (actually, Grinnell's) Formula stats:

- Attempted 85 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 46 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 41 percent of its own misses (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 32 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 29 more shots than Wartburg (goal is 25)

Again, it's easy to see, if you've been paying attention, that the vital goals are offensive rebounds and turnovers. Meet those numbers and that gives you more possessions in which to shoot. And it's even more prevalent with the Pioneers, since they have been particularly adept at "squeezing the orange," as CBS college hoops analyst Clark Kellogg would say. They turned it over only 13 times themselves in this game, a pretty amazing figure when you consider how fast they push the ball up the court.

Grinnell took control with a 12-2 spurt shortly after the midpoint of the first half, keyed by 3s from Levin, Ney and Dominique Bellamy, that broke the fifth and final tie to make it 37-27. The score was 56-43 at the break, and when the Pioneers scored the first six points of the second 20 minutes, they were off and running. Brian McManamy got three the old-fashioned way with an and-one from in close, followed by a 3-pointer from Valdez, to make it 62-43.

The lead never got lower than nine the rest of the way and Kale Knisley's layup in the final minute pushed Grinnell to the 100-point plateau. That makes Coach A's squad 4-for-4 in reaching that number this season, and it is average more than 117 points so far.

The schedule continues to get tougher, with a Midwest Conference road trip next weekend to favorites St. Norbert on Friday and to Ripon on Saturday. St. Norbert was ranked 10th in the preseason poll. Good luck to the Pioneers, and you can check back here for the results.

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