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BOB'S BONUS: Curry-Ionescu make their points

BOB'S BONUS: Computer and Internet issues notwithstanding, our man on the spot in the USA, BOB CRAVEN, is back with a double-dose of weekend reading, tipped off with what turned into a globaly phenomenon, the 3-Point battle between Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu.

THE absolute highlight of this year's NBA's All-Star Game weekend was the historic first ever 3-point shooting contest between an NBA player and a WNBA player - in this case, Steph Curry of the Warriors and Sabrina Ionescu of the NY Liberty - yesterday.

After Ionescu's record run last year in winning the WNBA 3-point contest, Curry-Ionescu was the logical next step, and it was hyped to the moon and back.

It was exciting too and captured the imagination worldwide.

In the end, Curry came from behind to win it, 29-26, but Ionescu's 26 still matched the highest tally in the actual men's 3-point Shoot-out!

To say the contest, and the spirit in which it was played, was a monumental success, would be an understatement.

CAITLIN Clark, the phenomenal guard for the U. of Iowa, has become the face of women's college basketball here in the US this year, and until recently, the focus was on her chasing down the all-time NCAA women's scoring record held by former U. of Washington great, Kelsey Plum, who had to score 57 points in her final game to set the record.

Plum is now a star for the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.  Clark recently passed Plum's record by sinking a 3-pointer from near the logo about 11 metres and just left of centre.  She ended up scoring a school record 49 points in that game.

Interestingly, even though she's now the leading women's scorer in NCAA history, she's not the No.1 scorer in women's college basketball.

That record still belongs to Lynette Woodward, who starred for Kansas in the late-1970s and early-1980s.  She played at a time when women's college basketball had its own governing body, the AIAW (Intercollegiate Athletics for Women).

At the time, the NCAA was fighting to exclude women's sports and, even after Congress passed Title IX, the federal law banning discrimination in education, the NCAA even sued to challenge its legality. The challenge was summarily dismissed.

The NCAA eventually forced the AIAW out of business and Woodward went on to become the first female Harlem Globetrotter.

Clark will surpass Woodward's mark in the next couple of weeks.  After that comes the men's all-time leading scorer, Pistol Pete Maravich, whose record is also probably within her reach, though possibly with an asterisk.

The Pistol is a bit more than 100 points ahead of Clark, but he was only allowed three years of varsity play back in the day, and there was no 3-point line then, either (ditto for Woodward).

Clark will also have the option to come back and play another year of college ball, thanks to an NCAA rule change brought about by the Covid epidemic.

GOLDEN State Warriors rookie 194cm shooting guard Brandin Podziemski was a star in high school, chose the U. of Illinois for college, and then languished deep on their bench, averaging 1.4 points per game in his only year there. 

He then transferred to Santa Clara U. in California for a year, where he immediately became their starting shooting guard and leading scorer, lighting it up for 30 and 35 points respectively in his first two games.  At the end of the year, he was a first round draft pick by the Warriors.

He has been earning his place on the team so far this year, backing up Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (The Splash Brothers) and averaging 9.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. 

Three days ago, he had a line of 6-5-5 in a win over the Sixers. During his 25 minutes on the floor, he did something not seen in the NBA in 44 years: in a four-game span he played more than 130 minutes and recorded at least 25 points without a turnover. 

In his last 136 minutes on the floor, he earned 27 assists and had zero turnovers, and this on a team that is prone to turnovers.

He recently earned his just reward for this type of sterling play. He has taken over the starting guard spot held down for the previous 12 years by struggling Klay Thompson. 

Interestingly, in his first game coming off the bench since then, Thompson lit it up for 35 points.

UConn women's coach, Geno Auriemma, ended speculation that he would retire at the end of this season, his 39th at the school, with an announcement last night after their game at home. 

Also last night, his oft-injured star guard Paie Bueckers told the crowd that she, too, would be returning next year.

Lauryn Taylor, a 180cm post player for NCAA Division II Francis Marion, set an all-time women's rebounding record for any NCAA classification when she hauled down 44 caroms in a win Thursday night over North Greenville.

Feb 18

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