Last Friday night Jeff Clement and his Grinnell (Iowa) College teammates piled into a hotel room in Appleton, Wis., and watched the video for the first time. Two nights earlier Clement, a 5'10" junior guard, had launched a one-man assault on the NCAA record book by scoring 77 points (a Division III mark) and sinking 19 three-pointers (a record for all divisions) in a 149-144 win over Illinois College. Now, as his exploits played on the screen before him—25-foot threes, three-men-in-his-face threes, fadeaway threes—Clement was asked which record was more important. "The points," he said emphatically. "I may not break 77 points, but I think I can break 19 threes. I want 20." At that, howls of laughter filled the room, and center Craig Alpha said, "You're getting greedy, aren't you?"
Exactly. Greediness is the whole point at Grinnell, where coach Dave Arseneault's hyperkinetic offense averaged 110.1 points a game (SCORECARD, Dec. 15, 1997). When Grinnell fell out of contention in the Midwest Conference race two weeks ago, the Barnumesque Arseneault set three season-ending goals for the Pioneers: Break the Division III record of 11 players from the same team making at least one three-pointer in a game, become the first team in the division to score 100 points in a half and make sure mat Clement won the scoring title.
Clement grew up on a farm just outside Grinnell. He used a stick to carve a three-point line in the patch of dirt that served as his basketball court. Still, after he averaged 13.5 points a game at Grinnell High, he needed time to adapt to Arseneault's scheme. "When I was a freshman. Coach said all he wanted from me was 15 three-point shots a game, and they all didn't have to go in," Clement says. "That loosened me up. Now I know I have to take those shots because that's my job."
Clement helped Grinnell meet its first goal on Feb. 14, when he was one of 13 Pioneers to hit a three-pointer against Monmouth (Ill.) College. Then, with Clement holding a 10th of a point lead in the Division III scoring race, with a 30.9 average, Arseneault cranked up the pressure. Against Illinois he forbade Clement to cross the half-court line on defense and kept him in the game for the full 40 minutes, almost twice as long as anyone normally plays at Grinnell.
Granted, Clement also set a more dubious NCAA all-divisions record, for three-point misses in a game, with 33 clangs in 52 attempts. "It's not like I was hot," he admits.
In their final game of the season, last Saturday against Lawrence College, Clement and Grinnell had one last chance to add to the record book, and they weren't lacking incentive. If the Pioneers scored 100 in a half, Arseneault would have dyed his hair the color of his players' choice. Alas, Lawrence had other ideas, defeating Grinnell 127-116 and leaving the Pioneers with a 10-12 record for the season. Clement, the Division III scoring leader, had an off day: 55 points and only 16 three-pointers.