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Wood's Word: In the zone

It’s amazing what athletes are capable of doing during a game when they are “in the zone.”

When one hears the saying “in the zone,” it is usually accompanied with a notable athletic performance from a team or an individual player.

Last Tuesday night, Jack Taylor was probably in the zone.

The 5-foot-10-inch sophomore from Division III Grinnell College scored an unprecedented 138 points in a victory against Faith Baptist Bible College. Taylor set the NCAA record after shooting an unbelievable 52-for-108 from the floor, including 27-for-71 from the 3-point line.

More unbelievable than the 138 points, perhaps, is the fact that Taylor shot the ball 108 times. Most collegiate-level teams seem to average around 50-60 shots per game. With 108 shot attempts and 36 minutes of play, it could be suggested that Taylor shot the ball every 20 seconds. That’s a high number to distribute between five players on the court, let alone one man.

It is interesting to note, however, that although Faith Baptist Bible lost the game with a score of 179-104, its school record for points in a game was also shattered and reset by its own Dave Larson, who scored 70 points.

It was mentioned after the game that Grinnell College played with an offense-only mindset, putting little effort in on defense. This gave Larson the opportunity to provide his 70-point performance.

Taylor, who now holds an average of 61 points per game, has been receiving national attention all week for his never-before-seen performance. But just as interesting, in this columnist’s mind, is the fact that the 108 shots taken by one player allowed another to score 70 points of his own. It could be argued that Larson was also “in the zone” after shooting 33-44 on the night, but reports also say that the lack of full-court defense from the other team gave him the opportunity to carry out the execution of a “cherry-pick” offense in the second half. Regardless, 138 points and 70 points are huge numbers to put up in a single game, no matter the circumstances.

Taking a look back on a somewhat recent history, here are a very few of the many incredible “in-the-zone” sporting performances.

1. On Jan. 22, 2006, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. After knocking down 55 points in the second half, Bryant totaled 81 points in the game through 42 minutes of play. Bryant shot 28-46 from the field, including 7-13 from the 3-point line and 18-20 from the free-throw line.

2. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ran an NFL record of 296 yards on Nov. 4, 2007. More impressive, perhaps, is the fact that Peterson totaled 253 rushing yards in just one half.

3. Texas Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton had a historical performance as he offered up four home runs against the Baltimore Orioles in May earlier this year. Hamilton was just the 16th player in MLB history to have four home runs in a game, and the first to do so in almost 10 years.

4. Barcelona FC superstar Lionel Messi set a personal best and a Champions League record for scoring five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012. Barcelona won the game 7-1.

5. Jamaican Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt shattered his own 100-meter world record on Aug. 16, 2009 at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Bolt improved .11 seconds from his previous record set a year before — the highest recorded improvement since the electronic recording era began in the 1960s.

No matter the circumstances, when an athlete is in the zone, they are capable of performing superhuman feats. Sometimes you just have to shoot the ball enough.

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