David Arseneault

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This article is about the college basketball head coach. For his son and professional head coach, see David Arseneault Jr.
David Arseneault
Grinnell Pioneers
Position Head coach
League Midwest Conference
Personal information
Born (1953-08-11) August 11, 1953 (age 63)
Career information
College Colby (c. 1975)
Position Guard
Career history
As coach:
c. 1985 Guelph
c. 1985 McMaster
c. 1987 Hawthone
1989–present Grinnell

David M. Arseneault Sr.[1][2] (born August 12, 1953[3]) is the men's college basketball coach of Grinnell College. He invented the Grinnell System, a run-and-gun style employed by the team.[1][4] He is also an associate professor of physical education on Grinnell's faculty.[5] Arseneault's coaching staff previously included his son, David Jr., who served as an assistant coach after playing under his father at Grinnell.

Early years[edit]

Arseneault played college basketball at Colby College,[6] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Science in 1976.[5] He then went to Canada and received a Master of Education from Brock University in 1985.[5][7]

Coaching career[edit]

Arseneault coached college basketball in Canada in Ontario Universities Athletics Association, later known as Ontario University Athletics (OAU), for the Guelph Gryphons and McMaster Marauders.[7] He moved to the United States and coached women's basketball in New Hampshire for two years at the now-defunct Hawthorne College, where he was also their athletic director, before coaching the men's team in rural Iowa for the Grinnell Pioneers beginning in 1989.[7][8][9] He inherited a Grinnell program, which competed in Division III, that had not had a winning season in 25 years. After a couple years of trying out traditional eight-player rotations, he felt Grinnell needed to change its basketball philosophy to rejuvenate the team and have more fun. Arseneault developed the Grinnell System. Through 2012, Grinnell won five conference championships, advanced to the postseason 11 times, and led the nation in scoring at all levels of college basketball in 17 of the past 19 seasons.[10]

After Grinnell's Jack Taylor twice scored 100 points in a game, including an NCAA-record 138, Arseneault and his program have been criticized for focusing on records and running up the score on overmatched opponents.[11][12][13] Deadspin wrote that Arseneault "has focused less on putting together a successful team and more on getting his players' names in the record books."[14] However, former Grinnell player Ross Preston, author of the book The Road to 138, counters that Arseneault transformed a program that was a combined 52–222 with no championships under its four previous coaches, and the choice to use his system was to improve the program, with the scoring records being only a byproduct.[11]

Under Arseneault, Grinnell has designated select games to pursue a record.[15][16] Three times an Arseneault-coached player has set the Division III single-game scoring record,[14] each time against an opponent from a lower division.[12] His son and then-Grinnell coach, David Jr. said the team allowed one player to score so much since Grinnell was trying to win their conference and lead the nation in scoring, and their "best hope of winning a conference title is our best player playing at a high level."[12] Earlier as a player with Grinnell, David Jr. once set the national record for assists in a game (34) when the team was instructed to shoot only if they received the pass from him.[15] Critics have hinted that Arseneault designed the Grinnell System as a scheme to get national attention and sell books. Preston countered that the system started as a means to turn around a losing program; he added that Arseneault was a member of the Grinnell faculty and expected to share his insights with peers in his field.[11] Critics including Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com charged that Arseneualt influenced his book sales by having his players' scoring records coincide with the books' release.[11][17] In August 2013, Arseneault released his second book, titled System Successes;[18] during the 2013–14 season, Taylor scored 109 points and Grinnell guard Patrick Maher set an NCAA record with 37 assists, breaking David Jr.'s previous record.[17] Taylor' big game came against Crossroads College, which played in National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), a level below National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which was lower than Grinnell's Division III;[12] Maher's record was against College of Faith, a 100-person Christian school with a new sports program and an 0–10 record.[19]



  1. ^ a b Schonbrun, Zach (November 21, 2012). "138 Points, 108 Shots and a Debate About a Record". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Grinnell College guard David Arseneault shatters NCAA assists record with 34". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 9, 2007. Archived from the original on December 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ http://web1.ncaa.org/stats/StatsSrv/careercoach
  4. ^ Berkow, Ira (January 29, 2004). "40 Minutes Of Running And Gunning". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "David Arseneault". grinnell.edu. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Black Bears meet Bobcats tonight; Colby 5 at Tufts". Bangor Daily News. January 22, 1975. p. 21. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Sager, Neate (November 21, 2012). "Former CIS coach the mastermind behind 138-point monster performance". yahoo.com. Archived from the original on January 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Temple, Jesse (February 12, 2013). "Grinnell has a 113.4-point plan for success". Fox Sports Wisconsin. Archived from the original on November 17, 2014. 
  9. ^ "NCAA Record" (PDF). The NCAA News. September 25, 1989. p. 6. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hart, Jay (November 21, 2012). "The system behind Jack Taylor's historic 138-point game for Grinnell". yahoo.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d Kallet, Brad (November 26, 2013). "Kallet: Is The Grinnell System Legit Or Unjust? An Expert Weighs In". newyork.cbslocal.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Doyel, Gregg (November 19, 2013). "Not easy for Grinnell gunner to score 100-plus, till coach makes it so". cbssports.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. 
  13. ^ Harris, John (December 7, 2013). "Controversy surrounds Division III player's scoring records". triblive.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Petchesky, Barry (November 18, 2013). "How Grinnell College Bastardizes Basketball To Set Records". Deadspin.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Reilly, Rick (November 21, 2013). "Not always Taylor-made". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ Prisbell, Eric (December 24, 2013). "Once lost in pursuit of points, Grinnell's Jack Taylor finds contentment". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Payne, Terrence (January 7, 2014). "Grinnell sets another NCAA record with Patrick Maher recording 37 assists in one game". collegebasketballtalk.nbcsports.com. Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ Schultz, Ted (August 22, 2013). "Grinnell coach Arseneault releases new book". pioneers.grinnell.edu. Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. 
  19. ^ Doyel, Gregg (January 7, 2014). "Grinnell pulls another NCAA record out of its selective-scheduling hat". cbssports.com. Archived from the original on January 20, 2014. 

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