Wenzel: Record spurs memories of Morgan's night in 1992
The Internet and national sports programs are buzzing about the kid from Grinnell (Iowa) College who scored 138 points in a small-college basketball game Tuesday.
Jack Taylor reached the mark -- the new NCAA scoring record -- by going 52-of-108 from the field and 7-of-10 at the free-throw line. He was 27-of-71 from the 3-point line.
The score was 179-104. He played 36 of the game's 40 minutes in a 75-point win over Faith Baptist College.
I covered the 1992 game in which former Dakota Wesleyan University star Scott Morgan scored 57 points in a win over Mount Marty. With respect to another former Mitchell resident and current NBA player Mike Miller, Morgan's feat that night in the Corn Palace was the coolest thing on a basketball court I witnessed in my many years as a sports reporter.
It took a few minutes in front of a microfilm machine this week to find the stats, but here's a bit about that game: It was Feb. 17, 1992, and Wesleyan already had wrapped up the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference regular-season title. Mount Marty came to the Corn Palace for a late-season matchup.
Morgan, who still lives in Mitchell and runs Blarney's Sports Bar and Grill, was 24-of-38 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. The score that night was 110-82.
He had 33 points at halftime, but then had just one basket during a seven-minute stretch early in the second half. With Wesleyan ahead 65-53, Morgan got hot, scoring a flurry of baskets during a three-minute stretch midway into the second half.
Longtime Wesleyan coach Doug Martin, now retired, remembers it well.
"Scott was always a good player, but he really played well that game," Martin told me via telephone Wednesday from his home in LaCrosse, Wis.
Martin said Wesleyan wasn't specifically feeding the ball into Morgan's hands that night. Perhaps it would have been easy to do, considering the Tigers had recently clinched the league title, and considering it was late in the year and Morgan was en route to his first of two NAIA Player of the Year awards. He had scored 48 points in a game just a week or two earlier.
Although Martin may not have been telling the squad to do so, I do remember that during his second-half flurry, Morgan's teammates seemed happy to set him up. And I remember the Corn Palace crowd going crazy every time he'd score and inch toward the state collegiate single-game scoring record, which was 55 points.
Said Martin: "Scott just played the game. The players knew where to put it."
Some of those other players were Corey Alm, Craig Cheeseman, Marty Jacobsen and Jason DeLange. That was a fun team to watch, with Morgan as the centerpiece, of course.
It's important to note that as soon as Morgan broke the state record with his 57th point, Martin pulled him. Our news coverage reported that Morgan sat approximately four minutes at the end of the game. Imagine what he could have done if Martin hadn't shown his usual class that night.
As for Taylor's record Tuesday, I don't really blame the player, but put the responsibility on the coach's shoulders. That's why I called Martin this week, and not Morgan.
Something's not right when a player scores 138 points, and especially when the margin of victory is 75 points. It's equivalent to a football player rushing for 700 yards - that's fine in a competitive game, but in a blowout?
Martin didn't seem too impressed either, although he said Grinnell plays a unique style of up-tempo basketball.
Martin, who won 251 games at Wesleyan and who also coached at USD, may be retired, but simply knowing what kind of style Grinnell employs shows he knows a thing or two about basketball. He said he still follows the game.
I suspected he wouldn't have ever allowed a player to go for 100 in a game, and especially in a blowout. He confirmed it when I asked him.
That Taylor kid deserves credit, but 138 points in a meaningless game against an overmatched opponent is poor sportsmanship. He fired up 71 3-pointers, for heaven's sake. By comparison, Morgan attempted only nine 3-pointers the night he lit up Mount Marty.
I'll take Morgan's 57 over Taylor's 138 any day.
Publisher Korrie Wenzel began his career at The Daily Republic in 1991 as a sports reporter.