Derrick Rowland finished the 1986-87 season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, appearing in the final two games of the year. Determined to grab hold of that brass ring called the NBA, Rowland played in almost every summer league he could join. His efforts paid off in September, when he earned a tryout with the Houston Rockets. But he couldn't break into the lineup of Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, and was cut in training camp. Now he was back with the Patroons, the team who traded him to Bay State one year ago.
In 1982, when Frankie J. Sanders first joined the Patroons, he scored 42 points in a December 26th loss to the Maine Lumberjacks. Clinton Wheeler broke that record in 1986, when he picked up 43 points in a March 1st road game against the Detroit Spirits. Rowland had eclipsed that record on January 2, 1987, scoring 44 over the Pensacola Tornados. But since January 2, the Pats' Fred Cofield had been called up by the Chicago Bulls, Greg Hines had been sidelined with a back injury, and the Pats' bench players, Gary Maloncon and Abdur Rahiim Al Matiin, were in an extended shooting slump. And the Pats now had to face the Wisconsin Flyers, whose coach Bill Klukas bragged to the Times Union's Tim Wilkin, "The Western Division [where the Flyers play] is much stronger. Everyone knows that."
Rowland started the game matched up against Wisconsin's Sam Mitchell, but as soon as the ball went into play, Albany's own "Doctor D" zipped around Mitchell like a sportscar passing a rustbucket on the highway. Rowland took the easy shots, he took the tough shots. And during the first quarter, most of them went in. The Patroons took the first quarter, 38-24, but 23 of those points were Derrick Rowland's - a new Patroons record for individual scoring in a quarter.
As the second quarter begun, Klukas switched roles and sent in Barry Stevens against Rowland. Although Stevens was a few inches taller than Sam Mitchell, Rowland still shot, passed and scored around him. Picking up another 12 points in the second quarter, Rowland set another Patroons record - most points scored by a player in half (35). And Albany picked up the second quarter point without any problems.
During the second half, the Flyers decided enough was enough, and began double-teaming and triple-teaming Albany's hot shooter. There was just one problem with that strategy - they forgot about Albany's other hot shooter, Kenny Natt. Natt was averaging 33 points per game in the past six contests, and he continued his streak tonight. Natt finished the game with 39 points, including 21 while Rowland was being double-teamed.
"We were able to run tonight and that got Derrick and Kenny open," Phil Jackson told the Gazette's Mike Dyer. "Everything was falling right into Derrick's hands. There were easy shots and things were rolling right for him all night."
Gary Maloncon picked up his scoring pace, coming off the bench to drain 11 points in the final minutes, ending his shooting woes.
Even one of the rookies got into the act. Curtis Kitchen scored 15 points, pulled down 14 boards and blocked five shots. A few days later, Kitchen would have nine blocked shots against the Savannah Spirits, a team record that would stand for five years (in 1992, Chuck Nevitt of the Pontiacs had 10 blocked shots in a game).
Albany won the game, 139-107, picking up 6½ points in the standings. The Patroons' hero, Derrick Rowland, broke his own CBA record of 44 that night, finishing the game with 45 points. Although many Patroons came close to that record (Scott Roth had 42, Mario Elie had 40), it wasn't until Vince Askew sank 47 against Pensacola in 1990 that Derrick Rowland's team record finally fell.
Rowland's big concern that night? Winning all seven points. The Flyers did get half a standings point in the third quarter, when with seconds remaining, Rowland took an off-balance shot from the top of the key. The ball hit the back of the rim and bounced out, and the horn blew. "I thought the ball was going into the net," Rowland told the Gazette. "I really felt we could win all seven points and that was at my fingertips."
Jones 7-11 7-8 21; Singleton 12-21 2-2 27; Mitchell 5-11 5-6 15; Graham 3-9 2-3 8; Stevens 4-12 2-2 10; Brown 3-8 2-4 8; Nelson 3-7 0-0 6; Robinson 4-8 0-0 8; Crawford 2-2 0-0 4. Totals - 43-97 20-26 107.
Moore 4-9 3-4 11; Natt 15-24 7-9 39; Rowland 18-29 9-10 45; Grissom 1-4 0-1 2; Kitchen 7-15 1-1 15; Maloncon 5-11 3-3 13; Pressley 4-11 2-2 10; Al Matiin 2-3 0-0 4. Totals - 56-106 25-30 139.
WISCONSIN 24-23-31-29 107 0½ ALBANY 38-30-31-40 139 6½Three-point goals: Natt 2, Singleton. Rebounds - Albany 54 (Kitchen 14, Rowland 10), Wisconson 46 (Brown 22). Assists - Albany 31 (Moore 10), Wisconsin 17 (Jones 8). Total fouls: Albany 21, Wisconsin 24. Att: 2,313.
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