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Dick Jerardi: Davidson's Curry is gunning for Pistol Pete's scoring record

THE RECORD has stood since 1970. When Lionel Simmons was making his assault on 3,000 points in 1990, I remember him saying he knew he "wasn't going to catch Pistol Pete."

THE RECORD has stood since 1970. When

Lionel Simmons

was making his assault on 3,000 points in 1990, I remember him saying he knew he "wasn't going to catch Pistol Pete."

The L-Train finished his career at La Salle with 3,217 points, more than 400 points from Pete Maravich's record of 3,667. Well, there is finally a challenger for the record. But the challenge comes with three big ifs.

If Davidson junior Stephen Curry comes back for his senior season, can average approximately 30 points per game and gets enough games, he has a real chance.

Curry's NBA plans will be announced after the season. He has played a lot of point guard this season to get ready for the NBA. Anybody who does not think he can play in the NBA is confused. He can, now or some time in the future.

But Curry may want to continue the college experience. Anybody who followed Davidson's journey last season knows what joy it brought to the team and its followers. That feeling is not something you can take with you to the NBA.

Curry has 2,088 points. He scored 730 points as a freshman (21.5 average), 931 as a sophomore (25.9 average) and 427 in 15 games this season (28.5 average). He played 34 games his first season and 36 last season.

Let's assume 35 games this season and next. Remember Davidson gets extra games because it probably will win the Southern Conference Tournament and play a game or two or more in the NCAA Tournament.

Now, do the math - 20 more games this season and 35 next season. That's 55 games times 30 points or 1,650 points. Add 1,650 to 2,088 and the number is 3,738 - or 71 more points than Pete.

I will make no comparisons to Pete because nobody who has ever played college basketball can (or ever will) compare to Pistol as a flat-out scorer. Consider Maravich scored all those points in just 83 games; Curry has already played 85.

Pistol played with no three-point shot or shot clock. He averaged 44.2 points for his career.

Still, Pistol played in a much more wide-open era where defense was often a rumor, coaches did not control games like they do now, and any shot he took was a good shot in the eyes of his coach, his father Press Maravich.

What Curry is doing in this era is amazing in its own way. Every team wants to stop him. The really good teams on Davidson's schedule throw wave after wave of defenders at him. Still, he scores and, more importantly, helps his team win, something Pete could not do at LSU.

Davidson is 12-3 after going 29-7 last season and 29-5 in 2006-07.

If Curry gets another 600 points this season (hardly a given), that will give him 1,027 for the season. And leave him 979 behind Pistol Pete. Then, if he decides to play a final college season, the chase officially would be on.

Speaking of shooting

There are six teams shooting 50 percent or better from the field. Led by Utah State (52.0 percent), the teams, which include Arizona State, BYU, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Kentucky, are a combined 84-10.

Why is Wake unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the poll of record, Monday's Daily News Top 15? The Demon Deacons are shooting 51.0 percent (fourth nationally) and holding teams to 36.3 percent shooting (sixth nationally). A gap of 10 percentage points is terrific. A gap of 15 points is national-championship material.

And why is California (15-2) surprising everyone and leading the Pac-10? They are shooting a nation's best 48.3 percent from the three-point arc, the equivalent of 72.4 percent shooting on two-pointers.

Whither A-10 Tournament?

An announcement on the site for next season's A-10 Tournament is not imminent, but is getting closer. The finalists include incumbent Atlantic City, Springfield, Mass., and others not yet identified.

The Palestra?

"We did not submit a formal bid," Penn athletic director Steve Bilsky said. "We kind of told various people that we'd love to have it. We would do it in a way that would make it easy for them. We'd more or less rent the facility out for them and then work like hell to get everybody in Philadelphia supporting it, including the Sports Congress.

"We didn't want to get into a bid where you put out a guarantee or whatever. We're getting kind of mixed responses to that [from the league's athletic directors and presidents]. Some people have said, 'That's great.' Some people have said, 'It's hard then to compare it to other people.'

"We basically said if you want to come to Philadelphia and you want to come to the Palestra, we'll make this work for you, economically and every other way. That's kind of the position we have and we're waiting for some clarification."

It is unclear if the Palestra is a player for the tournament or not.

"We would welcome a bid from the Palestra," A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade wrote in an e-mail. "We sent the RFP [Request For Purchase] document to the Palestra and had various conversations with Steve. He confirmed that Penn did not formally want to bid but would welcome the A-10 Championship. We are very appreciative of this standing offer.

"However, Division I conference championships like the A-10 championship have tremendous appeal and economic impact potential so the process is very competitive when you combine the economic realities with a host site's ability to enthusiastically support the event on every level. Selecting a site will be a difficult decision for the athletic directors. We have excellent choices for the future A-10 men's basketball championships."

One thing Bilsky can promise is that the Sports Congress would get behind it just like it did for the NCAA Lacrosse Championships.

"We worked with hotels to get really good rates," Bilsky said. "We would be able to do that kind of stuff very easily."

This and that

* Villanova's

Scottie Reynolds

now has one more 40-point game than the great L-Train.

Lionel Simmons

scored 40 in a game just once - Feb. 10, 1990, at Manhattan. He was just that consistent game after game that he didn't need giant scoring games to reach 3,000 points. Reynolds is only the second player in Big East history to score 40 more than once in a conference game. Providence's Eric Murdock is the other.

* Villanova lost the Louisville game in a way it almost never loses games - missed foul shots. Over the last eight seasons, according to stats produced on the ESPN broadcast, the Wildcats are third nationally in free-throw percentage, behind Michigan State and North Carolina State.

* Minnesota coach Tubby Smith is well on his way to his 16th consecutive 20-win season. Only Dean Smith (27) and Lute Olson (20) have had longer streaks.

* Dayton compiled a 14-1 record in nonconference games, but I was a bit skeptical because the Flyers had only two road wins. They promptly went to Massachusetts and lost, 75-62. The baskets are still 10 feet, the boundaries the same, but some teams are just not the same away from home. If Dayton wants to be the NCAA team many think it can be, it will have to start winning on the road.

* Saint Joseph's had lost eight consecutive overtime games until it beat Rhode Island in three overtimes on Saturday.

* Last Saturday, Duke and Florida State combined for 33 points in the first half and 91 points in the second. If you suspected lots of free throws, most of them by Duke, you qualify as a hoops detective.

* VMI made 17 threes and scored 103 points against Coastal Carolina. And won by a point. Love those Keydets.