Nations: Sports at their worst

Feeling a bit indecisive about today’s topic, so why fight it? Let’s make this column a two-parter.

Not sure if you heard about this bit of state news, but last week’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) football championship game between a pair of 9-1 teams — Virginia State and Winston-Salem State — was cancelled on the eve of the matchup after an apparent altercation between players on the opposing teams during a luncheon at Winston-Salem State. According to Winston-Salem starting quarterback Rudy Johnson, he was attacked without provocation by as many as six Virginia State players in a bathroom during the luncheon. Johnson was left bruised and battered by the assault, as was Virginia State’s reputation.

One Virginia State player, running back Lamont Daniel Britt, has been charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury stemming from the attack, and has been suspended indefinitely from the program. Johnson said he was punched, stomped and kicked during the attack by unknown assailants from the Virginia State team.

Virginia State football coach Latrell Scott, formerly the head coach at Richmond before his second DWI arrest led to his sudden resignation shortly before the start of the 2011 football season, stated in a campus news conference on Monday that there may have been a “rush to judgment” and characterized the incident as one player — Britt, presumably — “made a bad decision.”

The CIAA apparently had enough to go on, and quickly made the decision to cancel the football championship and the league’s volleyball championship (scheduled for the same time, also at Winston-Salem State), and further banned Virginia State’s football team from postseason play this season.

Winston-Salem State, which likely lost ground in the NCAA Division II playoffs, ultimately was awarded a No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Slippery Rock in Saturday’s first round of the postseason. Johnson, still sporting a black eye, said he’ll definitely be playing for the Rams on Saturday.

Virginia State got its own black eye from last Friday’s events, and the Trojans — innocent and guilty alike — are just starting the pay the consequences as they sit at home this weekend.

Did you hear about Jack Taylor? The 5-foot-10 junior guard from a small Iowa college poured in a ridiculous 109 points in a 173-123 victory over something called Crossroads College on Sunday. Taylor made 24 of 48 attempts from the 3-point arc, hit 11 of 22 from inside the arc, and sank 15 of 17 free throws. And he did it in just 29 minutes on the court.

As silly as that number looks, it’s not close to the NCAA Division III single-game scoring record of 138 points (all the highest of all collegiate levels). Come to think of it, that happened just last year and it was … Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor who did it.

Wow, right? He must be some kind of scoring savant, obviously outclassing the Division III competition. He sounds practically NBA-ready, don’t you think? In two games this season, he’s averaging 90 points an outing. Why isn’t this guy a pro?

For a complete answer, you might visit the web site Deadspin. The title of Barry Petchesky’s article on Taylor’s latest feat pretty much says it all — “How Grinnell College Bastardizes Basketball to Set Records.”

I’ve yet to watch this team, and from Petchesky’s description of Grinnell coach David Arseneault’s self-styled “System,” I’m glad to have missed it. I remember, years ago, arriving at a high school basketball game between two bitter cross-town rivals looking forward to seeing one of the state’s best teams in action. Instead, the underdog squad’s coach used a relentless, mind-numbing four quarters offense — this was in the days before shot clocks — and held the score down somewhere in the low 20s. The favored team still won, but I and likely most of the rest of the folks who attended that mockery felt cheated out of watching a real game.

I imagine seeing Grinnell in action would have the same effect, albeit in an entirely different way. This program has made a habit of running up goofy scoring totals — Taylor broke the old Division III scoring record last year held by Grinnell’s Griffin Lentsch, who managed “only” 89 points in a game two years ago.

The ultimate object is to win the game, that’s understood. But style points count for something, too, and Grinnell’s blatant attempts to run up record-book totals — by fouling on every opportunity to get the ball back quicker, by passing up open shots to get more 3-point attempts by the chosen scorer, by victimizing obviously overmatched opponents — falls well beyond garish in my book.

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or>