Nationals

'Sir Jack' the toast of basketball after 138 pts

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'Sir Jack' the toast of basketball after 138 pts

How did Grinnell's Jack Taylor wind up with 138 points in a game?

Well, he did miss 56 shots, more than he made. And he didn't play for four minutes.

Otherwise he would have scored even more.

As it was, Taylor shattered the NCAA scoring record by 25 points Tuesday night in the Pioneers' 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible in Grinnell, Iowa.

Taylor hoisted a mind-boggling 108 shots, one every 20 seconds. Layups, fadeaways and 3-pointers (27 of those) were all working in a display that had the NBA's basketball royalty buzzing a day later, from Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

``It's like a video game,'' Anthony said. ``How can you shoot 108 times?''

``It's unbelievable, honestly,'' James said. ``There's two games that I would love to see: One was Wilt, when he had 100, and this kid, I want to see him, too. Sir Jack.''

Wilt Chamberlin's record of 100 points scored in 1962 still stands as the NBA mark. Taylor was the third player in NCAA basketball with at least 100 points, but his performance was the most prolific.

Taylor himself was still trying to catch his breath Wednesday.

``Honestly, it's still not settling in. It was hard to sleep,'' Taylor told The Associated Press after appearing on ``Good Morning America'' and the ``Today'' show.

Understandably so. Taylor is just a 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore from Black River Falls, Wis. How did he score more points than anyone in college history?

Well, he had 58 at halftime. And then he scored 30 more in the first nine minutes of the second half, draining seven straight 3s at one point.

The Division III record was the first to fall, as Taylor reached 91 points on a 25-footer from the left wing with 11:14 to go. He cracked 100 on a layup less than three minutes later, and with 4:42 to go he drained yet another 3 to pass the NCAA record of 113 set by Rio Grande's Bevo Francis against Hillsdale in 1954.

In 1953, Francis had 116 against Ashland Junior College but Frank Selvy is the only other player to reach triple figures, scoring 100 points for Division I Furman against Newberry in 1954. The previous Grinnell record was 89 by Griffin Lentsch last Nov. 19 against Principia.

Taylor made 27 of his 71 3-point attempts and was 52 of 108 overall. He had a hot hand, sure, but he plays in a system designed to reward high-volume shooting.

Grinnell's goal is to shoot within 12 seconds of getting the ball, something borrowed in part from the breakneck system Paul Westhead installed at Loyola Marymount in the 1980s. The 3 is the shot of choice - in fact, every player must shoot 100 3s every day in practice - and the four guys who don't shoot crash the boards. The Pioneers also press relentlessly on defense, hoping to force a turnover or a quick shot so they can get back to scoring more points.

The style demands fresh legs, and the Pioneers typically substitute every 60 seconds or so.

``It's just something completely different than you face any other time you play,'' said Brian Fincham, the coach at Faith Baptist Bible, a school in nearby Ankeny, Iowa, with fewer than 300 students. ``If they've got a little bit of ability on you, it's tough to keep up.''

When coach Dave Arseneault landed at Grinnell 24 years ago, he inherited a program that went from 1965 until 1994 without a winning season. Because of their high academic standards and rural location 50 miles east of Des Moines, winning basketball had simply eluded the Pioneers for decades.

Arsenault wanted to make up for Grinnell's lack of athleticism and size, and make the game more fun. The Pioneers have won four conference championships with the pour-it-on style but have yet to win an NCAA tournament game, raising questions about whether the emphasis on scoring at the expense of defense and patience doesn't reflect traditional basketball strategy and sportsmanship.

``Maybe they're right,'' said David N. Arseneault, the co-head coach and the Arseneault's son. ``But the way I look at it is ... there's no chance we would have been able to have even close to the amount of success we've had without this system.''

The Pioneers didn't set out to have Taylor break any records Tuesday night. But after discovering Taylor had 58 points at halftime, they decided to go for it.

``A lot of people are saying it wasn't the most team-oriented thing to do,'' Taylor said. ``But I wouldn't have been able to do it without the encouragement and support from my teammates.''

Taylor didn't leave the game until the closing moments with his team up 70. Arsenault said he thought about pulling Taylor earlier, but after watching him drain six straight 3s in a two-minute span, he couldn't bear to pull the plug on something so special.

``My thought was `Hey, man, the kid's got it going. I'm going to let him go,''' he said.

Fincham said he wasn't offended by Taylor's pursuit of the record. In fact, Fincham decided at halftime that it would try to get at least 50 points for his own player, David Larson, who finished with the quietest 70-point night in the history of basketball. He broke the school record of 47 and gave his teammates a reason to hold their heads high.

``Our students come for ministry,'' Fincham said. ``They don't come for basketball, obviously.''

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AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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Max Scherzer loses a round, but wins the fight

Max Scherzer loses a round, but wins the fight

WASHINGTON -- Everything outside the damage framing his right eye was standard when Max Scherzer walked toward right field around 6:40 p.m. Wednesday. He went through his usual running routine before graduating to long toss with bullpen catcher Octavio Martinez then moving into the bullpen, where Kurt Suzuki waited.

As Scherzer warmed, fans lined up against the silver rail in section 127. The second bullpen catcher, Nelson Robledo, sat on a folding chair. Martinez stood and moved his head left to right as warmup pitches sizzled past. Pitching coach Paul Menhart flanked Scherzer with a towel over his right shoulder. When Scherzer took a water break during warmups, Menhart took his towel, wrapped it around Scherzer’s neck then scrubbed the sweat from his head and bruised eye while looking every bit the part of corner man. Only the Q-tip and vaseline were absent.

At question when the day began was if Scherzer would even make it this far. Scherzer was still asleep when manager Davey Martinez met with reporters in the morning before the doubleheader against Philadelphia began. Martinez was under the impression then Scherzer would pitch later in the evening, but did not know that for sure until Scherzer woke up, called trainer Paul Lessard and said he was ready to go. Not long after he confirmed himself ready, Scherzer arrived at the park where he practiced bunting in the batting cage. He finished his session with swings and a shout of “Let’s go!”

A final exultant spin and slap of the glove followed an 86-mph slider that closed Scherzer’s night -- forever the “Blackeye game” -- and sent it into lore three hours after he warmed up. A day after becoming national news, and being laughed at by his wife, Erica, for bloodying himself in BP, Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings for an ascending Nationals team which swept a doubleheader from Philadelphia. The opener was a 6-2 win. The nightcap a 2-0 victory anchored by Scherzer’s ornery performance while the swelling under his eye jiggled.

Before he arrived Wednesday, Martinez decided to dispatch fresh black T-shirts which said, “Stay in the fight” on the front and “162+” on the back -- a creation from him and director of mental conditioning, Mark Campbell. “I thought it was perfect timing to get them out,” Martinez said.

Asked about the “plus” on the back, Martinez added, “That’s what you play for.”

Such swagger would prompt eye-rolls three weeks ago when the Nationals staggered home from New York. Martinez’s job was in jeopardy -- to a degree. The season was in severe jeopardy. They are 15-7 since, a run good enough to push them three games under .500 for the first time since April 29. The spiraling Mets lost, so Washington hopped them into third place. The Nationals had not held that position since April 19.

Pitch 117 from Scherzer is one of the reasons they arrived in such a spot. He was tiring, J.T. Realmuto was up, and the tying run was on second. It was at-bat number 40 for Realmuto against Scherzer. General familiarity is one thing. To have faced an astute catcher that many times was another, which is why the final strike provided Scherzer so much sizzle when he left the mound.

“When Realmuto gets in the box, we've had a ton of history and we've faced each other so much, I just know it comes down to execution,” Scherzer said. “I was able to get ahead in the count and execute a good slider. That's where [Kurt Suzuki] and I, that just shows you where Zuk and I are at. I was praying for him to throw down a 1-2 slider and he called it. I was on the mound, just hey, just execute this, execute this, stay through this, don’t' get too far ahead of yourself, and was able to throw the pitch exactly the way I wanted to and get out of a jam and keep that a 1-0 ballgame.”

Realmuto became Scherzer’s 10th strikeout. Jean Segura made it to third base in the first inning. No other Phillies runner made it past second against Scherzer. His ERA has dropped to 2.62. He leads the National League in strikeouts. He doesn’t miss starts -- makes his “posts” as he calls them in old-time fashion -- whenever they come up. “Competitiveness” is always referenced when speaking reverently of Scherzer. Perhaps “reliability” is a more rewarding word. The first, presumably, leads to the latter.

“It’s probably one of the most impressive things -- I can’t let him hear me, I can’t toot Max too much to his face,” Brian Dozier said when looking for clearance in the clubhouse. “It really is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in awhile. He’s probably the best pitcher in our generation and you don’t get that status unless you take the ball every fifth day no matter if you’re doing good, doing bad, got a broken nose, you always want the ball.”

“I was kind of joking with him, ‘Oh you’re throwing today?’ He kind of gave me the go-to-hell look. ‘Of course, I’m throwing today, what do you mean?’ That’s Max. It showed up today. He had really good stuff. Some of the best stuff I’ve seen.“

It was a visceral drama. Scherzer said the pain was limited, which left his pride likely more damaged than his face. Years of needling circled back at him following his viral gaffe in batting practice. Jokes about his appearance following a broken nose were made in the clubhouse. An NC State football helmet Trea Turner typically keeps in his locker was on the floor in front of Scherzer’s chair. A hand-written note was taped to a corner wall next to Scherzer’s locker with advice: “If you try bunting tonight, please do us all a favor and wear this.” The line to razz an incessant needler filled deep and quick.

“My phone's been blowing up, everybody calling and giving me flak,” Scherzer said. “I love it. If you can't talk trash on me right now, you never will.”

With that, he smiled, and the blood-filled pocket under his eye was raised. He could laugh 36 hours later after becoming a national punchline because showing up and getting it done is always a way to have the final say. He did both Wednesday.

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Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

WASHINGTON -- With a broken nose, pronounced black eye and seven shutout innings, Max Scherzer provided a striking capper to the Washington Nationals' day-night doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Scherzer himself? He shrugged off his work in the Nationals' 2-0 victory Wednesday night as business as usual.

"Trust me, this thing looks a lot worse than it actually is," Scherzer said. "I felt zero pain. There's been plenty of other injuries where I felt a lot of pain and I've had to pitch through. I'll hang my hat on those starts, but tonight I felt zero pain. This is part of what you have to do. You take the ball every fifth time.

"That's my responsibility to the team, to make sure I always post, and I knew I could post tonight."

Brian Dozier and Victor Robles hit solo homers to support Scherzer (6-5) as Washington won for the 16th time in 23 games. Philadelphia has dropped seven of its last nine and 12 of 18.

In the first game, Patrick Corbin struck out eight while allowing one run over seven innings as the Nationals earned a 6-2 victory in the delayed series opener after the teams were rained out Monday and Tuesday.

Scherzer bunted a ball off his face during batting practice Tuesday, but it didn't stop him from making his scheduled start. His injury may have provided an extra layer of intimidation in the form of a black eye more worthy of a boxing ring than a baseball diamond.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner sported a pronounced bruise arcing beneath his right eye, adding another hue to a glare that already featured one blue eye and one brown eye.

"Going out there and throwing, the only thing I had to deal with was the swelling underneath the eye," Scherzer said. "It was kind of jiggling around, and so in warmups I just had to get used to knowing what it was feeling like to throw the ball and just have that swelling."

While he wasn't at his most efficient on a humid night, piling up 117 pitches, Scherzer was rarely threatened. He struck out 10, yielded only four hits and permitted just two runners to reach scoring position. And he finished strong, striking out three in a row after Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a double.

"It really is one of the most impressive things I've seen in a while," Dozier said. "He's probably the best pitcher in our generation, and you don't get that status unless you take the ball every fifth day, no matter if you're doing good, doing bad, you got a broken nose. You always want the ball."

Bryce Harper, Scherzer's former Nationals teammate, was 0 for 4 with four walks in the doubleheader and was loudly booed before each plate appearance -- especially in the better-attended nightcap. This series is his second trip back to Washington, where he played from 2012-18, since signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia in March.

Dozier belted a two-out solo shot in the second off Jake Arrieta (6-6), who allowed two hits and struck out three over six innings and had the misfortune of matching up with Scherzer on the wrong day.

"Max is just one of the best to ever toe the rubber, honestly," Arietta said. "We have ran into him a couple of times. That's just what he does. He is tough to square up, and he is throwing three or four pitches for strikes with electric stuff. Just a tough one."

Robles homered off reliever Pat Neshek in the eighth. Neshek departed two batters later with a left hamstring strain, and manager Gabe Kapler said he was likely to land on the injured list less than a week after returning from an absence of more than three weeks caused by a shoulder strain.

Wander Suero pitched a perfect eighth for Washington, and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 tries.

Philadelphia was 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position between the two games.

Corbin (6-5), whose start was pushed back twice this week, allowed a solo homer to Scott Kingery in the first inning of the opener. But he let just one other runner to reach third while ending a personal three-game skid.

"It's not ideal, but you have to deal with it to make sure you are ready," said Corbin, who is one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career. "I was glad we got that one in today."

Dozier and Gerardo Parra had RBI doubles against Phillies starter Zach Eflin (6-7). They later hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning off Cole Irvin to seal the victory.

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