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Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Tiny college putting up big numbers

December 11, 2002

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— Basketball at Grinnell College is all about numbers. Big numbers. Numbers so big they look as though they're typos.

Grinnell has launched 83 three-point shots in a game this season and has made as many as 31. The Pioneers scored 160 points in their opener and rang up 152 on Monday night, when they shot 114 times.

The Pioneers average 136 points per game, better even than last season, when they set an NCAA all-division record of 124.9. Grinnell allows an average of 121 points, but so what? To get something, you've got to give something up.

"Our game plan is try to win by one," said Grinnell coach David Arseneault, the architect of this freewheeling system at the NCAA Division III school 50 miles east of Des Moines.

"If we lose and it's 133-132 instead of 57-56, it's a lot more fun to watch."

Wednesday night, Arseneault will find out how his system works against a Division I program when the Pioneers play at Drake, a major step up for a team used to playing Lake Forest, Beloit and Ripon.

"I hope it's a good experience," he said. "You're always a little concerned, especially the way we play because if you're not shooting well, you can look pretty foolish."

It will be a new experience for Drake, too. Drake is averaging 49 shots a game. Grinnell averages 68 :quot; from three-point range.

Grinnell's style is similar to what Paul Westhead used to gain national attention at Loyola Marymount. Arseneault, who began running the system in 1992, has added his own wrinkles along the way, including a hockey-style substitution system.

When Arseneault sends in subs, he does so in waves of three or four at a time, often as early as the first 35 seconds. At least 17 players have appeared in every game, and no one has played more than 21 minutes.

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