Thursday, March 10, 2011

From the Paper: Flockerzi played at eccentric Grinnell College

Friday's edition of The Saratogian featured an article on Luke Flockerzi and Jeff Juron, a pair of coaches for the men's basketball team at the University of Rochester. The duo — Flockerzi is the head coach, Juron an assistant who played in high school for Burnt Hills — coached at Skidmore before heading out to Rochester, who is still alive in the D-III NCAA tournament.

It wasn't exactly relevant to the article, but an interesting sidebar is that Flockerzi played his college ball at Grinnell College, a D-III school in Iowa. The team's basketball program gained national attention a few years ago for its unorthodox style of play — simply put, Grinnell runs and guns ... and then runs and guns some more. Grinnell is coached by David Arseneault and routinely leads the country in points per game; this season, Grinnell went 18-7 and scored 102..9 points per game.

For some perspective, the D-1 leader in men's basketball (Virginia Military) averaged 87.9 points per game this season.

Grinnell's system gained national attention in the mid-2000s when ESPN the Magazine did a featured article about the team and then the network showed one of the team's games on TV. The team regularly subs all five players out at the same time and routinely plays more than 15 players so that legs can remain fresh to hoist 3-pointers; this season, the team shot 1,399 shots from behind the arc.

Again, perspective — Virginia Military led D-I in 3-point attempts and "only" took 978 shots from deep.

"It's definitely a different style of game, it's a lot of fun to play," Flockerzi said of Grinnell's approach to the game. "It definitely lends itself to being very team-oriented because everyone gets to contribute."

On this most recent Grinnell squad, 13 players played double-digit minutes and seven players scored more than eight points per game.

More of a role player on the team, Flockerzi (dismissively) said his high-game during his Grinnell career was (just) 22 points. Though not a common occurrence because of the way Grinnell hands out minutes, it is not rare for players on the team to have career-high scoring games in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Flockerzi said his personal style of play is a mixture of all the coaches he has been around, but his teams do have some Grinnell-like flavor to them. He helped recruit the personnell for this past year's Skidmore squad that took 221 more 3-pointers than any other team in the Liberty League and Flockerzi's Rochester club has scored 75.9 points per game this season.

Mostly, Flockerzi said, Grinnell's style most infused his coaching personality in that he is willing to give his players extra freedom in shot selection and in going for steals on defense.

"(Beacuse of Grinnell) I can live with mistakes of aggression," he said.

--Michael Kelly

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