Even the most casual reader of this blog knows that updating everyone on records set by my favorite teams is nothing new. Most every System team sets some type of record periodically, it simply is the nature of this terrific style of play.
This post, however, will break some new ground, and it fittingly comes from the team that started all this craziness 20 years ago: Grinnell College.
The NCAA Division III men's team opened its season Saturday on the road against Principia College from Elsah, Ill. Last season, the Pioneers won this matchup fairly easily, setting a school record with 90 points in the opening half on their way to a 150-90 victory. Grinnell star Griffin Lentsch had 36 points in that game in only 15 minutes of run, making 10 3-pointers along the way.
He did even more in the return game. Playing an almost-unheard-of-for-The-System 36 minutes, the junior from Forest Lake, Minn., scored an NCAA D-III record 89 points, beating the previous mark of 77 set by another Grinnell player, Jeff Clement, in 1998. Lentsch was 27-for-55 from the field, including 15-of-33 on 3s, and converted 20-of-22 at the line. Oh, and the Pioneers won 145-97, not that anyone really cares about that at this point.
Lentsch's point total is the third-highest in NCAA history, behind the 112 points scored by Bevo Francis of Rio Grande College in 1954 and Frank Selvy's 110 points for Furman in the same year.
"It's still setting in," Lentsch said, according to the Grinnell Website. "I didn't think I would ever score that many points."
He had 40 points at the break and then really got down to scoring in the second half. Lentsch went to the line 15 times in the second half, making 14 of them. After teammate Patrick Maher made a jumper with 7:26 remaining, Lentsch scored the final 24 points. His last two came with 19 seconds left on his final shot of the game.
"We knew Griffin had a chance to put up big numbers, but something like this is simply amazing," Grinnell assistant/interim coach Dave Arseneault said, according to the Website. He will take over full-time when his father, System creator David Arseneault, takes a sabbatical in the spring semester to work on his latest book.
"But it really was an entire team effort. The guys contributed in terms of setting screens and getting him the ball. It was incredible to watch. As Griffin scored more and more points, our bench got louder and louder."
That is one of the neatest things about Lentsch's record, the help and support he received from his teammates. The screens, the passes and the unselfishness all combined for a special night. Maher ended up with 13 assists and six steals while scoring 10 points, and Jack Adams added 10 points, too.
All in all, a wonderful game for Lentsch and the entire program.
"All the credit goes to my teammates, in all honesty," Lentsch said. "They did such a great job of setting screens and getting me open. I never would have come remotely close to doing this without them."
We will see what he can do for an encore Tuesday night, when Grinnell plays its home opener against Wartburg College. Game time is 8 p.m. EST.
Have no fear, I will be back with more updates later Sunday. I felt a record such as this deserved its own post, but I have exciting news about all our other System teams, including some important victories for the girls' team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS, along with the women's teams at NCAA Division II Glenville State and NAIA Olivet Nazarene.