More or Less: Thanks, Caitlin, for the show … and for triggering great memories

I love watching Iowa’s Caitlin Clark play basketball … almost as much as I like watching Notre Dame’s Hannah Hidalgo and her supporting cast.

Clark sees seams to the basket like nobody else and makes 25-foot shots look as easy as one of us tossing a sandwich wrapper into a wide-mouthed trash can three feet away. If you want to compare her to a man, then pick Superman.

Bill Moor

Another reason why I like Clark is that her record-breaking spree has brought the name of another special player to the forefront, the guy  she recently passed as college’s all-time leading scorer.

That would be Pistol Pete Maravich.

He was maybe the greatest passer the game has ever seen and a player who would score 40 points on an average night and 50 on a good one — doing the latter 28 times in his three varsity seasons (1967-70) at LSU.

Maravich — along with every other player during his time — couldn’t play varsity ball as a freshman and so he was limited to three seasons. He didn’t have the three-point shot available, nor the shot clock.

Yet he averaged 44.2 points a game and still holds the NCAA Division I men’s record with 3,667 career points. Those statistics are almost unfathomable in this day and age.

Maravich was skinny as a rail, had a Beatles’ haircut, wore floppy socks and ran around like a roadrunner. He helped his dad and LSU coach, Press Maravich, take a program that had gone 3-23 before the two of them had arrived in Baton Rouge to a 22-10 record by Pete’s senior year.

 He was a man of heroics, hustle and heart.

Ironically, it was his heart — malformed at birth — that killed him at the age of 40 after a stellar but injury-plagued NBA career. His autopsy revealed that he had a rare congenital defect with his left coronary artery missing and his right coronary artery greatly enlarged to compensate.

His death was 36 years ago. His playing career at LSU was more than 50 years ago. I remember it well. I was a fan.

It bothers me very little that Caitlin Clark passed Maravich on the all-time scoring list. I’m just happy that his name is spoken again with awe and that younger people not yet born during his lifetime may appreciate his accomplishments.

Pistol Pete Maravich. Even his name makes me smile.


The other guard for LSU during Maravich’s reign was Jeff Tribbett, who came from Indiana. Lebanon, Indiana, to be exact.

So if you know your high school basketball, you understand where I am heading. In high school, Tribbett played in the same backcourt as Rick Mount, one of the greatest pure shooters that the game has ever seen.

Tribbett got to go along for the exhilarating rides with both Maravich and Mount — feeding them the ball and serving as the basketball equivalent of Batman’s Robin.

Of course, Mount, the same age as Maravich (who died on Mount’s 41st birthday), was the first schoolboy to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1966. He went on to Purdue where he led the Boilers to the NCAA title game against UCLA his junior year and scored a Big Ten record 61 points the following season against Iowa in a losing cause.

I had a frat brother who played at Valparaiso High School and he used to brag that he “held” Mount to 37 points in a game. Nobody could hit a jumper from the corner of the court while falling out of bounds like Mount could.

Maravich, Mount and Niagara’s Calvin Murphy— the 3Ms — along with the great Austin Carr of Notre Dame were all scoring machines at the same time and all would have probably been scoring 40 points a game regularly if they had a three-point shot back then.

Mount still holds the Big Ten record with his 61 points and Carr has the NCAA tournament single-game record with that same amount against Ohio in 1970.

Another dead-eye shooter a little before the 3Ms and Carr’s collegiate careers was Jimmy Rayl from my hometown of Kokomo. Like Mount, he was a Mr. Basketball — his reward coming in 1959 after he and his Wildkat teammates lost to Crispus Attucks in the IHSAA championship game.

In one memorable high school shoot-out, Rayl scored 49 points while Ray Pavy tossed in 51 for New Castle. They were to be backcourt mates at I.U., but Pavy was left paralyzed after a car accident before their sophomore years.

Rayl once chased me and a few grade school buddies off a Kokomo basketball court after first giving us the chance to keep the court if one of us could beat him in “Horse.” He won. We left.

He scored 56 points twice for the Hoosiers — the first time in a 105-104 victory over Minnesota on the same day that  Purdue’s Terry Dischinger had scored 50 in a loss to Wisconsin. I was a Dischinger and Purdue fan back then. So I was a little disappointed that Rayl had outscored him that day — maybe still holding a bit of a grudge against Rayl for giving us kids the boot off the court.

I guess I eventually forgave him and when interviewing him many years later, he said he would have scored 70 points instead of 56 if the three-point shot was then part of the game. “The guy who charted my shots even said that one of my baskets was from 38 feet,” he told me.

Caitlin Clark and her accomplishments brought all these memories back to me. Pretty cool.

Contact Bill at [email protected]