The Te’o Saga: Every Piece of Content I’ve Found Interesting Up To This Point

manti-teo-notre-dameIf you follow me on Twitter, you’ve been inundated with tweets about the Manti Te’o story. Apologies to those who haven’t taken as big of an interest in this story as I have. I must say, the past two days have featured the most gripping, bizarre series of events I have ever experienced. I have never seen a single story dropped from one source cause such a shock wave throughout the interwebs. And not just nationwide, either—we’re talking worldwide. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Pieces to the Te’o puzzle have been popping up so fast, I’ve have a hard time keeping up. But that’s what makes the story so compelling. Deadspin lit the fuse, and the whole thing just exploded. I wanted to start from the beginning and trace exactly how the story unfolded. Maybe you’ve already read every link/tweet I’m about to list. That’s fine. If anything, this is a personal exercise for me to take a look back and re-live the story. At a maximum, it’s your guide to get yourself caught up on anything you may have missed.

I’ll obviously start with the original Deadspin post. I’m not even going to bother giving a fluffy intro to this masterpiece. I suspect many people have not even read it, but instead gathered the gist of the story through tweets and reactions of others around the web and on the news. Even if you know every facet of the story, go back and read it. It’s packed with extremely interesting details. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s pretty amazing how dead-on they were, now that several pieces of the puzzle are in place.

As soon as the story broke, the internet blew up. It didn’t take long for other bloggers to dig up tidbits relating to Deadspin’s story. One of the first links I saw was a post from @TheBigLead. It contained video of a Te’o post-game interview where he references his deceased “girlfriend” and how she was the inspiration behind his play. It was really creepy to see.

Everything described above happened from about the time I left work on Wednesday to the time I arrived home. My wife and daughter were out of town visiting family, so the minute I got home, I went straight to a computer. I became obsessed with this story. While Deadspin’s piece was fascinating and showed a few of the Twitter interactions between Te’o and Lennay Kekua, I wanted to see them all. So I went through Teo’s Twitter timeline and extracted every tweet he sent to the three accounts that Deadspin pinned as ones belonging to Kekua. His tweets were sloppy and extremely difficult to read, so it was hard for me to understand how interactions like these could lead to love. It was clear that these tweets were only a fraction of the bigger picture.

It was around 8:00pm Wednesday that I saw a tweet from @McMurphyESPN that said Notre Dame planned on holding a press conference in response to the Deadspin story. I, like many others, was shocked by this. The fact that the University would swoop in so quickly and hold a press conference was baffling. Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick fielded a barrage of questions surrounding the hoax, and actually gave a surprising amount of detail. One particular detail, in my opinion, led to the undoing of Te’o as the public awaited more details. Swarbrick said that on December 6th, Te’o received a phone call from a person with the same voice as that of Lennay Kekua, his girlfriend that he thought had died. We all assumed this was when Te’o first learned of the hoax. The AP reported at least two instances after that date in which Te’o, with supposed knowledge of the hoax, spoke in public about his deceased girlfriend. Without that little detail, it would have been difficult for the public to view Te’o as a liar, given the murkiness of the other evidence at the time. But the timeline proves that Te’o was deceptive, at least on the back end. Whether it was out of embarrassment of revealing his online relationship or him being in on the hoax to boost his Heisman campaign, he lied. That didn’t sit well with many.

After the press conference wrapped up, @TheBigLead posted a story detailing a claim from Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia that he actually met Lennay Kekua. He described her as athletic, tall, and beautiful  This really threw everyone for a loop, leaving readers scrambling to connect Deadspin’s report to Mauia’s claims. Is Kekua real, or was Mauia mistaken? (We still don’t know the answer to that. Mauia seems to have backed off his claims a little bit)

At around midnight on Wednesday, follower @knicksinseven alerted me to the Twitter feed of a user named @justinrmegahan. I checked out his feed, and I was stunned. Below are his tweets.

— Justin Megahan (@justinrmegahan) January 17, 2013

Justin’s findings spread like WILDFIRE across Twitter. I remember when I first looked at his profile, he had a few hundred followers. He now has almost 6,000. Heavy hitters on Twitter such as @bomani_jones, @richarddeitsch, and @SarahSpain were directing their followers to Justin’s timeline. His findings were getting hundreds of RTs. I honestly have no clue how he found these tweets, because by the time he must have conducted his search, the Te’o story had been out for hours and there must have been tens (if not hundreds?) of thousands of tweets on the subject already out there. I, too, tweeted out Justin’s findings, and Tim Burke, the co-author of the ground-breaking Deadspin post, quickly chimed in.

Not many put two and two together that these tweets dug up by Justin were tweets that were likely a key component in Deadspin’s probe into the user behind the fake Kekua accounts. The tweets were never specifically linked in their story, but were certainly alluded to. Justin just happened to cause a late-night stir by chance.

The next morning, I saw yet another bizarre video unearthed by @TheBigLead. This time, it was an interview of Te’o talking about receiving letters from his dead girlfriend, even AFTER she supposedly died. He figured she must have written them in advance and instructed someone else to deliver them to Te’o after her passing. Yeah…

A morning tweet by @YahooForde also caused havoc. Forde reported that Te’o was slated for an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap sometime that day. I was shocked that Te’o would speak out so soon, especially given that Deadspin hadn’t yet published a follow-up to their first story. Te’o didn’t know what else Deadspin knew, so this was a very risky move. Later in the day, it was announced that the interview was off.

As the morning went on, a few more interesting links popped up. A Notre Dame student gave his perspective on the story, including talk around campus and in the locker room that many suspected something was off with Te’o’s relationship with Kekua. A Poynter interview with Tim Burke gave an interesting viewpoint from Deadspin’s side, including how they were tipped off to the story. Burke also discussed the story on the Dan Patrick show.

A little after lunchtime on Thursday came the next big bombshell in the Te’o story: a report from TMZ that gave some chilling details of the background of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who Deadspin alleged was behind the hoax.

Later Thursday evening, another bombshell hit. This time, it was an unedited transcript released by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel. Thamel was widely criticized for his reporting (or lack thereof) in a story he did on Te’o which appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of SI. In the interview, Thamel asked Te’o a host of questions about Lennay. Te’o’s responses, while sometimes vague, were ones that only raised red flags, in my mind, with the benefit of hindsight. Much of Thamel’s critizicsm came because there didn’t appear to be much of an effort to verify the information provided on Lennay, especially her death. Even without finding details of her death, an obituary, or even a funeral, Thamel pushed out the story in the tight 2-hour deadline he was given. After taking a lot of heat once Deadspin’s story came out, SI published a full transcript of Thamel’s interview with Te’o. The unedited transcript gave readers a shocking look into how deep this hoax actually went. In addition to the original Deadspin story, I would mark this transcript as another absolute must-read.

In the wake of the Te’o story, two people I follow closely on Twitter felt compelled to come forward and share their own personal experiences of being “catfished” by a stranger on the internet. The first story comes from @thefootballgirl. I was stunned after reading it. The second catfish confession came from @mtRoth29. A pitcher at South Carolina at the time, his story showed some striking similarities to the Te’o story.

The next morning, I listened to a radio interview with Te’o’s uncle. It’s a long one, but absolutely worth your time. Te’o’s uncle describes the time he first met Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, and he smelled a rat from the beginning. He believed that Tuiasosopo was trying to get close to Te’o in an attempt to possibly extort money from him. He backed Te’o 100%, and after hearing the interview, I believed him.

Another groundbreaking story from @ShelleyESPN popped up Friday afternoon. In her report, a friend of Tuiasosopo came forward to ESPN and claimed that Tuiasosopo called her, in tears, and confessed to concocting the Te’o hoax. Also included in the story was a report from two people whose cousins were also duped by Tuiasosopo in a separate but similar scheme.

Word broke late Friday afternoon that ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap finally landed an interview with Te’o. A photo from the interview was tweeted by ESPN PR Friday evening.

While the world waited for details from Schaap’s interview, a story from USA Today was published which gave more background into the life of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. The story gives three chilling facts from Tuiasosopo’s real life that mirror the Kekua persona he portrayed in the Te’o hoax.

Finally, late Friday night, details that we had all been waiting for finally emerged. ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap went live on SportsCenter to discuss his reactions after his 2.5-hour interview with Te’o. Video of Schaap’s impressions, as well as the story, can be found here. In the interview, Te’o said that he was not involved in perpetrating the hoax in any way. He also said that he was never 100% certain that the whole thing was a hoax until two days prior, when Tuiasosopo called him, confessed, and apologized.

Deadspin posted a recap of Schaap’s interview early Saturday morning.

I’ll be updating this post as new information surfaces.

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know, and I’ll work it into the timeline.

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Did @justinrmegahan just get one step closer to cracking the Manti Te’o case?

Holy smokes, would you look at this. Twitter user @justinrmegahan just unearthed some tweets dating back to early December that related to Lennay Kekua being a hoax. Could these people know who the perpetrator of the scam was? (Thanks to @knicksinseven for alerting me to this guy’s feed)

Transcript of every tweet Manti Te’o sent to @lovalovaloveYOU / @LennayKay / @LoveMSMK

So I went through Manti Te’o’s Twitter feed and found every tweet that he sent to his “girlfriend”. According to the smoking hot Deadspin story, Manti’s fake girlfriend used the account @lovalovaloveYOU from 2011 to April 2012, @LennayKay from April to September 2012, and @LoveMSMK ever since. Te’o doesn’t have too many tweets, so it wasn’t that difficult of an exercise. I’m actually shocked that he hasn’t deactivated his account. I wanted to get this up ASAP before all the tweets were gone.

All I did was go to allmytweets.net, searched his name to pull up every single one of his tweets, then did a CTRL + F on all three Twitter accounts. I copy/pasted the embed codes and have embedded them below. He may or may  not have been in the process of deleting them as I was going through this, because tweets to @LoveMSMK are nowhere to be found (the account has been deactivated). I would still think tweets from Te’o to that account would still be visible, though. Odd.

Below are the tweets, from oldest to most recent. Twenty tweets to @lovalovaloveYOU, twenty to @LennayKay.

This is a snapshot of Te’o’s “relationship” with this person. Does it look authentic to you?

Suggestions for a Better Tweetbot

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I need to start this post with a disclaimer. I’ve tried a lot of different Twitter apps. Some have features that others don’t. Many lack features that others have. The absolute best iOS Twitter app out there that does what I need it to is Tweetbot, without question. It’s a wonderful app, but it could be better. In this post, I’m going to list areas needing improvement. If your preferred app has any or all of these features, great. I’m not going anywhere. This is simply a call to the creators of Tweetbot to hopefully consider some of these tweaks in a future update. I don’t know the first thing about creating smartphone apps, so I’m sure there’s way more to it than what I realize. This is simply user feedback. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

1. Better RT counter

When scrolling through my timeline, I’ll often come across a tweet that I just know has caught fire. Luckily, Tweetbot has a feature that allows you view the number of RTs on a given tweet as well as who the RTers are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Below is a screen cap displaying RTs of the most RT’d tweet in Twitter history, President Obama’s “Four more years.

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Oh, 93 RTs, you say? Uhh, no. How about 817,000+. I want to be able to see this detail. For whatever reason, Tweetbot caps its RT counter off in the high 80s/low 90s. Popular Twitter accounts often blow past those numbers within minutes. Now that Twitter has added accurate RT counts to the detailed view on any tweet, Tweetbot needs to follow suit.

2. A counter for Favorites

Similar to the RT counter, another tweet metric I often like to check is the Favorites count. Tweetbot offers a “View in Favstar” option, but again, it doesn’t work. I’ll use the same Obama tweet for this example.

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Just a tad off on the Favorites count there, Tweetbot. The true count is 300,000+ Favorites. The “View in Favstar” option isn’t even a work-around to get an accurate RT count, as you can see. I want to be able to see accurate Favorite counts, and I want to have the ability to do it natively within the app, not through some third-party site.

3. Added feature for push notifications for specific accounts

I consider myself a power Twitter user. I do check my timeline quite often, but there is certain news that I just can’t receive quickly enough. This time of year, it’s NFL news. I want to know breaking NFL news the second that it happens. Twitter gets information out quickly, but only as often as you check your timeline. There are certain accounts that tweet vital, need-to-know information, and I’d love the ability to receive tweets from specific users via push notifications. As a current work-around, I am SMS subscribed to the following three accounts: @AdamSchefter, @MatthewBerryTMR, and @Deadspin. These three accounts pretty much cover every sports angle as it happens. Receiving their tweets via text message does the job, but it would be nice to cut out that step and receive push Tweetbot notifications of new tweets from desired accounts.

4. Auto-capitalize the first letter of @replies

I’m as conscientious of grammar/spelling/punctuation as they come, and I’m no different on Twitter. I pore over every tweet before sending to be sure and catch any errors. When composing a new tweet on Tweetbot, the first letter is automatically capitalized for you. However, when replying to a tweet, it is not. This is a minor annoyance, but it would save a step for grammar freaks like myself.

5. Auto-complete Twitter handles when composing a DM

I follow plenty of accounts, so I don’t have everyone’s handle memorized. The auto-complete feature when comping a new tweet or @reply is a life-saver, but for some reason, there is no auto-complete when composing a DM. This would be nice to have.

6. Allow push notifications to go through while you’re in the middle of composing tweet

Tweetbot’s push notifications for RTs, Favorites, and @replies are lightning fast, but for some reason, they don’t go through when you’re in the middle of composing a tweet. Any incoming push notification when you’re composing a new tweet gets stuck, then the minute you submit your tweet or cancel out, the notifications finally go through all at once. Again, a minor annoyance here, but I’m often late in conversation threads because of this. If someone replies while I’m in the middle of my reply, I won’t see it until after I’ve submitted my tweet. I’d like to be certain that I’m replying to the most recent tweet in the conversation thread.

7.  Allow a default recipient in the “E-mail Tweet” option

Whenever I see a tweet that I want to read or refer back to later, I e-mail it to myself. My e-mail inbox is my to-do list. Some people use the Favorite button for this, but I prefer to only Favorite tweets a) that I think are funny/interesting, or b) to acknowledge that I saw and enjoyed a tweet, but don’t necessarily have a reply to. So anyway, I e-mail myself a lot of tweets throughout the course of a day. It’s a handy option, but I have to manually type in my e-mail address in order to send a tweet to myself. Tweetbot needs to add a “Default Recipient” option to save users this step. Back in my BlackBerry days, my Twitter app of choice (UberSocial) had this feature, which I loved. I do e-mail tweets to others on occasion, but 99% are to myself.

8. Improved “Copy Tweet” function

Whenever I see an interesting tweet, I’ll often copy it and text it to friends who don’t have Twitter. Tweetbot has a “Copy Tweet” feature, but it isn’t good. All it does is copy plain text from the body of the tweet. It doesn’t include the handle of the original tweeter, a time stamp, nor the tweet’s URL. UberSocial included all of this detail with their “Copy Tweet” function, so it would be nice if Tweetbot added the same.

I could create a list twice this size of all the things I love about Tweetbot, but that wouldn’t help in making it better. The developers behind Tweetbot are constantly pushing out tweaks/updates to this fantastic app, so I’m confident we’ll be seeing some of these features (and more) in future releases. Here’s to hoping they come sooner rather than later.

Thursday Night Football is Awful, and the NFL Should Get Rid of It

serious-funWith the Bengals taking care of the Eagles 34-13 to kick off Week 15 of the 2012 season, Thursday Night Football (TNF) has finally come to a close. Back in September, I wrote a blog post with a hunch that TNF, for a variety of reasons, was going to suck this year. Now that we have 13 TNF games under our belts (Weeks 2 – 15, with the exception of the Thanksgiving games in Week 12, which were aired on CBS/FOX/NBC), I decided to take a look back at the games and see how they stacked up.

To determine the quality of TNF games this year, I looked at a couple things: 1) The records/scoring output of each TNF team, and 2) QB performance. Since the NFL has become a passing league, I figured this would be the easiest and best way to determine how efficient teams were on offense, and in turn, how exciting the games may or may not have been to watch.

I started by creating a spreadsheet to dump all relevant stats into. You can check it out here if you’d like. I listed every TNF matchup, the final score, and the QB stats for both the winning and losing teams. In games where multiple QBs saw action, I simply ignored the backup and focused on the starter. I then compared these TNF performances to each QB’s season averages. Since showing you a spreadsheet with a bunch of numbers scattered around wouldn’t tell you much, I did some analysis and picked out a handful of stats that I found quite telling. Like I said, I had a hunch that these TNF games were going to be bad, but honestly, I didn’t expect this.

  • The combined Win-Loss records for teams heading into their respective TNF matchups this year was 83-91.
  • There was only one TNF matchup out of the 13 in which both teams entered the game with a winning record (SEA @ SF in Week 7, which turned out to be the lowest scoring TNF game all year. San Francisco won 13-6).
  • The average margin of victory in TNF games this year was 13.5 points.
  • Only 31% of the games on TNF this year were one-possession games. 69% of the games were double-digit victories.
  • 54% of the winning teams on TNF this year scored below their respective season averages.
  • 77% of the quarterbacks who played on Thursday Night Football posted a QB rating lower than their QB rating for the season. And we’re not talking barely lower, by the way. We’re talking an average of 22 points lower. Horrendous QB play on TNF this year.
  • A grand total of 22 touchdown passes were thrown on Thursday Night Football this year. Compare that to 30 interceptions. In 13 games. Remember, these are totals. 13 games x 2 QBs per game = 26 total QBs. TNF QBs averaged less than a TD per game this year, and more than one INT. That’s insane.
  • Only four QBs (Bradford, Freeman, Rivers, Palmer) posted multi-TD games this year on TNF. That means that 85% of the QBs appearing on TNF this year threw zero or one TD.
  • Over half (58%) of QBs appearing on TNF threw for fewer yards than their season average. An average of 60 yards fewer, to be exact.

So what does all this mean? Ratings must have been horrible, right? Well, I’m not so sure about that, but I do know that I personally watched 100% of these games. Why? Because I’m addicted to the NFL. No matter how bad the matchup is or what day it’s on, I’m going to watch.

Who are the winners and losers in regards to Thursday Night Football? The only winner is the NFL, assuming the ratings were where they wanted them. The losers? The fans. The teams. The players. Literally every other party involved got totally shafted with Thursday Night Football this year. Players are not rested enough come Thursday, teams are not prepared, and the result is the steaming pile of crap that we were forced to endure every week. TNF is a total money grab.

The NFL needs to do away with Thursday Night Football. If they cared about the quality of the product they’re putting out (and more importantly, the health of their players), they’d get rid of TNF or AT LEAST trim it back to the late-season start like it used to be. I didn’t mind TNF in years prior when the games didn’t start up until Week 10; that was like finding money in your pocket. Instead, they hit us with Thursday games right out of the gate, which I believe diluted the overall viewing experience.

I love the NFL as much as the next person, but in regards to Thursday Night Football, there can be too much of a good thing. Get rid of it.

Liveblog: Grinnell College vs. William Penn University, 5:00pm EST

Five days removed from his NCAA record-breaking 138-point performance, Jack Taylor will take the court today versus the 11-0 William Penn University Statesmen at 5:00pm EST. Taylor’s absurd stat line vs. Faith Baptist last Tuesday night made national headlines, including appearances on SportsCenter and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Having only the game’s box score to go on, I, too, went to bed that night convinced that this was one of the most amazing performances in sports history.

Out of curiosity, I decided to watch the game film the next morning. Within minutes, I could tell that this record was not what it appeared to be. I updated my blog post from the night before to include my findings from the tape. The record was a total sham and the entire game made a complete mockery of the game of basketball. Deadspin picked up on the skepticism and their post helped lead the way into slowing down the crowning of Jack Taylor.

Curiosity has the best of me again today, as I must see where Jack Taylor and Grinnell go from here. On paper, it looks like the matchup against undefeated William Penn is much more balanced. Will Jack Taylor chuck up another 100 shots? Will Grinnell spread it around a little more?  Keep checking back here for my liveblog throughout the game.

Since the game clock is not visible during the live stream of the game, I’ll just use the actual time (Eastern) as my reference points along the way.

5:04pm: The announcer said this is the most full he’s ever seen the Grinnell gym in his three years calling games.

5:06pm: ESPN has cameras as well as an anchor on-hand for the game.

5:11pm: Opening possession for William Penn results in a fastbreak dunk. This team could run with Grinnell.

5:14pm: Already several steals for William Penn so far. Grinnell looks very sloppy and out of sorts.

5:17pm: William Penn with two alley-oop attempts already. Definitely some athletes on this team.

5:18pm: Four minutes in, and Jack Taylor hasn’t even attempted a shot yet.

5:20pm: 6’1″, 205 lb. G Blake Walker has been guarding Taylor so far. Height/weight advantage over Taylor. I don’t see Taylor getting shots up too easily over this guy. He’s long.

5:22pm: Already seven different players have scored so far for Grinnell. Jack Taylor with only one shot attempt six minutes in.

5:25pm: Five consecutive possessions of missed shots between the two teams. Really sloppy, but this is run & gun. 25-17 William Penn with 12 left in the half.

5:27pm: Taylor with a nice drive to the hoop and sinks the floater. And-1. His first bucket of the game.

5:30pm: Grinnell is just 2-17 from 3 so far this game. Chucking it early and often, but nothing is falling. Hanging in there down 29-22 midway through the first half.

5:32pm: The difference between William Penn and Faith Baptist is night and day. This is an actual team with a good game plan to stop Grinnell. Taylor is forcing it to the hole but has 3 turnovers already. Only 3 points. 1-7 from the field, 0-5 from 3.

5:35pm: William Penn is pulling away, 37-23. Shooting 15-25 from the field. Doing it on the defensive end as well, with 7 steals and 3 blocks.

5:38pm: Fifteen different players have already seen the floor for Grinnell. The scoring is pretty spread out. If you were watching this game with no prior knowledge of this team, you wouldn’t know who their leader is.

5:40pm: The only thing worse than Grinnell’s shooting performance is their video/audio feed. Their video feed is currently a white screen with a giant red question mark.

5:44pm: Video feed is finally back up. William Penn is up 54-38 with 5 left in the first half.

5:45pm: William Penn is already in the double bonus. Perhaps “The Bomb Squad” will be making their debut? Doubtful. William Penn is shooting 80% from the line.

5:50pm: Griffen Lentsch leads the way for Grinnell with 11 points to Taylor’s 7. Lentsch held the previous D3 record with 89 points in a game last year. Lentsch is 4-18 from the field. 62-51 Penn with 2 left in the half.

5:52pm: Taylor with a really nice drive and dish. He has good court vision when he isn’t chucking threes. Two assists so far, to his zero last game.

5:55pm: Halftime. 64-55 Penn. Taylor is 2-9 from the field with 7 points. He’ll need just 132 points in the 2nd half to top his career high. Look for him to start chucking.

6:10pm: I can’t imagine what that ESPN anchor is reporting about. I’m struggling making a blog post interesting that maybe a hundred people will read. Unless things really pick up in the 2nd half, ESPN will be returning to Bristol with its tail between its legs and one crappy highlight reel.

6:12pm: The 2nd half is underway, yet no audio feed. What are these student broadcasters doing? Isn’t this the biggest game of their careers?

6:15pm: And now the video feed is out. Again with the red question mark. GET IT TOGETHER!

6:17pm: Griffin Lentsch continues to lead the way for Grinnell with 16 points. He is 5-24 from the field. 74-64 Penn. Nine 3’s for Grinnell to Penn’s three is keeping them in this game, no matter how many they miss.

6:21pm: 80-66 William Penn with 15 to play. I don’t think any lead is safe for William Penn, but they have controlled the entire game. Rebound advantage for Penn is 48-31.

6:24pm: Taylor just hit threes on back-to-back possessions. Really nice looking shots. 17 points on the night. Penn still leads 86-75.

6:29pm: Five players in double figures for Penn. They are shooting 60% from the field which is pretty impressive given the pace of this game. Grinnell is shooting 33%.

6:33pm: I’m pretty sure Grinnell recruited this Luke Yaeger kid solely because of his last name. The announcer is shouting “YAEGER BOMB!” every chance he gets.

6:40pm: The whistles are blowing in this game. A combined 57 fouls have been called so far. Only 30 fouls were called in Grinnell’s last game. Actual defense is being attempted. 100-88 Penn with 9 minutes left.

6:49pm: 114-101 lead for Penn with 6 to play. More of the same in the second half. Penn is going bucket-for-bucket with Grinnell, shooting at a much higher %. 15 3-pointers for Grinnell, 6 for Penn. Both teams are in the double bonus, so this could be a long 6 minutes.

6:53pm: Grinnell lives and dies by the 3. They just chucked one on a 3-on-1 fast break. Clank. They did sink one on the next possession, however. Grinnell cuts it to 7 with 4 and a half to go.

7:01pm: 128-114 William Penn with a minute and a half to play. Penn has controlled the entire game, holding a 10-ish point lead the whole way.

7:10pm: FINAL. 131-116 win for William Penn. Seven players in double figures for Penn.

Well, I would consider that a waste of two hours. At least I didn’t pack up and attend this game like ESPN did.

The shot attempts for Taylor in his first four games tells you all you need to know: 18, 23, 108, 21. Give Grinnell credit: they held to their game plan. They definitely nailed Faith Baptist as their weakest opponent, and they definitely did everything they could to abuse the box score and get on SportsCenter. It worked. But I think it will be forgotten about as quickly as it happened. That is, until they play Faith Baptist again at some point…

138 points in a single game? What the box score tells us

Jack Taylor, a sophomore guard from Grinnell College, just shattered the NCAA scoring record with 138 points in a single game. 138 points. A good number of college games don’t even see that many COMBINED points. It’s stunning. Grinnell’s website supposedly has archived video of all their basketball games, but it appears to be down. You’d really need to see the game film to get the full story, but the box score just popped up on d3hoops.com’s website, so I had to have a look.

Just some random observations from this box score:

  • Taylor is only 5’10”. The shortest guy on Faith Baptist’s team is 5’10”. They couldn’t put someone on Taylor to shut him down after his first 50 shot attempts? Maybe try double teaming?
  • Taylor played 36 of 40 minutes. He scored nearly 4 points a minute. That’s incredible.
  • The dude jacked 71 threes. Their opponent shot only six threes. SIX.
  • He didn’t shoot a particularly great % from the field, but take away his 3-pt attempts and he shot 25-37, a very, very good 67.5%.
  • The team only had 22 assists on 68 field goals made. That is the definition of run-and-gun.
  • Taylor attempted 26 more shots than the other team combined.
  • Grinnell used 20 players in this game. Faith Baptist used 10.
  • Perhaps just as impressive was David Larson from Faith Baptist. At 6’4″, he shot 34-44 and put up 70 points in the losing effort.
  • Eric Young and Tyler Betz (look at his stupid bio pic) from Faith Baptist better be running some serious sprints after this game. They combined for 31 turnovers!
  • Some poor bastard had to record the play-by-play on this game. Look at the length of that document!

My biggest question from tonight’s game is this: where do they go from here? Will Taylor top this performance? They’re only three games into the season. Will he jack 130 shots next game? Do you think parents of the other kids on the team enjoyed watching this?

D3, terrible defense, whatever the case may be: 138 points is just absurd. I couldn’t score that against a team of 2nd graders.

Update:

The game film is finally available on Grinnell’s website, so I watched it this morning (yay Thanksgiving break!). Here are some more thoughts:

  • In the two games leading up to this one, Taylor was 5-18 and 6-23 from the field. Next game? 52-108. Come on. After watching the game film, this makes sense. Keep reading.
  • The announcer actually said that Grinnell will look on their schedule for their weaker opponents and do everything they can to run up the score and break records. This is all within the game plan. One tactic the announcer mentioned was called “The Bomb Squad”. If Grinnell’s opponent gets into the double bonus, Grinnell will sub in five freshmen players, foul their opponent immediately once the ball is in play, send them to the line, then sub the freshmen players out to put their scorers back in on offense. This takes almost no time off the clock, giving their starters as many offensive possessions as possible. To win the game? No, not necessarily. To break records.
  • For reasons unknown to me, this game counted as a regular season game for Grinnell, but as an exhibition game for Faith Baptist. The announcer actually mentioned this during the game. Hardly a competitive game even from the start.
  • There’s no question, Jack Taylor can play. Really good ball handler, finishes very well around the rim. He creates all of his own shots. Virtually no screens were set in this game. Taylor brings it up, does a couple crossovers, then either shoots a quick 3 or drives to the bucket. Grinnell’s spacing gave him so many open layups.
  • There were a LOT of possessions where Taylor would chuck up a shot, miss, and his teammate would get the rebound wide open under the basket. Instead of putting it back up, he would look for Taylor again and pass it out so he could chuck another three. There were many possessions where this happened three times each. Six three-point attempts in two trips down the court.
  • Every single person in that gym–the players, the announcers, the coaches, the fans–were hell-bent on setting records during this game. The entire flow was completely fixed to feed Jack Taylor the ball on every single possession. The announcer was even counting down the record for most points in a HALF. Who cares about that record? Grinnell does. It was weird.
  • Faith Baptist’s defense was just embarrassing. They were in no way conditioned to run with Grinnell in this style of offense. Run & gun, full court press every single time. It was as if every player was wearing concrete shoes. Sometimes it looked like they just gave up, or decided to help Taylor get this record.
  • Their offense was just as bad. Literally 75% of their points were full court heaves to get it over Grinnell’s press, then a wide open layup on the other end. Oh, and David Larsen’s “impressive” 70-point effort? Hardly. They were 90% wide open layups. He maybe took a handful of jump shots.
  • The announcer actually made a Wilt Chamberlain reference once Taylor hit 100 points.
  • The game got more and more embarrassing in the later stages. Taylor’s teammates would literally do everything they could do get him the ball every single time. It didn’t matter how wide open of a look they had.

The box score looks a heck of a lot better than the game film. This record is a total sham.

Update 2:

@BustedCoverage has ripped the first few minutes of the game tape where the announcers discuss Grinnell’s game plan and intent on setting records, as well as the closing minutes of the game where Taylor reaches 138 points. Embedded video below: