Should that really be a record?

By John Fragodt, Sports Reporter

Pete Maravich, possibly the first, second or third-best college player of all time, scored 3,667 points in 83 games while playing for his father at LSU from 1966-1970.  That averages out to 44.2 points per game.  That record has stood since 1970 for points in a career by a college player.  Maravich  averaged 43.8 points his sophomore season, 44.2 points as a junior and 44.5 points as a senior.  His teams went 49-35 in three seasons, capped off with a 22-10 record in 1969-70.  

Maravich (or “Pistol Pete” as he was known) was a 6-foot-5 guard in college who could pass and dribble like no other player at the time.  He was also a tenacious rebounder who took shots from all over the court, including from very long range before there was a 3-point shot.  His high game total was 69 points.

Here’s a few other facts about Maravich.  He played during a time when college basketball players did not play their freshman season.  Yes, that’s right, until 1971-72, college players had to sit out their freshman season of football and basketball while getting acclimated to playing at the college level.  High school graduates at the time could also not go directly to the pros.  They had to wait until they reached the age of a college senior before declaring to be a pro.

Some people have said that Lew Alcindor (who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton helped change that rule.  They came to UCLA as freshman and were immediately better than any other college players in the entire country.  In fact, Alcindor, who won 71-straight games in college without a loss, helped his freshman UCLA team beat the varsity team during the annual UCLA preseason matchup on Nov. 27, 1965, 75-60 with Alcindor scoring 31 points and snaring 21 rebounds.  Oh yeah, the UCLA varsity team was the two-time defending NCAA national champion at the time and the preseason No. 1-ranked team.

There were reportedly more people at the UCLA preseason game (crowd of 12,051 fans) than showed up for any game throughout the rest of the season.  The game was played at the Bruins’ new Pauley Pavilion.

And so, starting in 1972-73, the rule was changed to allow college freshman to play basketball and football.

Anyway, Detroit Mercy senior guard Antoine Davis, who plays for his father, Mike, needed 63 points in the Horizon League postseason tournament to break Maravich’ record.  The Detroit Mercy team was seeded eighth and it beat the ninth-seeded team in the opening round with Davis scoring 38 points, pulling him within 25 of the overall scoring record.  Well, despite Detroit Mercy leading top-seeded Youngstown State early in the next game, Davis came up three points shy of Maravich’ record during a 71-66 loss.

Davis ended the tournament with 3,664 career points in 144 games while Maravich had scored 3,667 points in only 83 games.  Davis not only got to play his freshman season, but he earned another season of eligibility because of the COVID season.

That’s not the full story though.  There used to be an NCAA postseason tournament with the top 8 teams earning berths in 1939.  The number of teams was expanded to 16 teams in 1951, to 32 in 1975, to 64 in 1985 and now, there are about 68 teams that make the NCAA Tourney.  The postseason NIT Tourney was actually the first postseason tourney in 1938, but now, the tourney is usually made up of teams that miss the NCAA Tourney.  In fact, Maravich never did play in the NCAA Tourney, but he did play in the NIT Tourney his senior year when LSU finished fourth.

Well, Davis’ team finished this season 14-19 so Detroit Mercy was not invited to the NCAA or NIT Tourney, but alas, there is also currently a College Basketball Invitational Tournament, which is set to begin March 18.  You have to be invited to the 16-team CBI Tourney, you have to vote as a team to enter the tourney and you also have to pay a $27,500 entry fee.

People throughout the sports world, including Maravich’ son, Jaeson, and myself, are astonished that Davis may get another chance to break the long-time record.  Normally, a team with a losing record wouldn’t get such a chance, but because of the possible national spotlight Detroit Mercy would bring to the tourney, the CBI that is made up of NCAA leftovers, is considering inviting the Detroit Mercy team . . . and you have to figure it will probably accept the invitation. Yes, records were made to be broken, but sometimes, I think we need to let records be broken naturally instead of generating ways to break them. 

•  I’m going to continue this column next week when I compare it to milestones in high school sports.  

It used to be 100 wins for wrestling, 100 points for hockey and 1,000 points for girls and boys basketball were major milestones.  However, those numbers are becoming less and less rare for a number of reasons, including length of games, number of games (or matches), timeclock, regular-season tournaments, etc.

Some high school players are scoring almost 1,000 points in one season and one high school wrestler from KMS finished 55-1 this season, giving him over 150 victories as a freshman.

We’ll talk more about it next week, but in the meanwhile, I’m hoping Detroit Mercy and the Davis’ come to their senses and settle for Antoine being in second place on the all-time college scoring list.