Scott Roth had no idea what was in store for him. The night before Albany's ninth game of the season, the 6'8" first-year forward ate out at a greasy spoon restaurant. The food gave him a sour stomach, and Roth spent most of the evening debating whether he was healty enough to face the Mississippi Jets.
But he had to play that night. His father would be at the Armory to watch the game, and Roth didn't want him to make the trip from Ohio just to watch his son sitting on the bench in street clothes. Roth also didn't want to tell coach Bill Musselman that he couldn't play - already Kenny Natt was grousing about lack of playing time, and new arrival Ken Johnson was ready to quit the team. So he told nobody about his ailing abdomen until after the game.
The Mississippi Jets played Albany tough that night, remaining tied with the Patroons through most of the first quarter. With the score tied 23-23 and seconds remaining in the quarter, Albany's Scott Brooks clanked a tough shot. Trying to get his own rebound, he got slapped with a loose ball foul. Mississippi's Eric White went to the free throw line and sank two, giving the Jets the first quarter point. Brooks then spent the rest of the evening on the bench, in full earshot of a furious Bill Musselman.
Albany then started pulling away, winning the second and third quarter points, but the 3,000 people at the Armory that night soon became aware that Scott Roth, the rookie forward from Wisconsin, was scoring more than his usual 19 points per game. In fact, Roth had 27 points by the end of the first half.
Two things contributed to Roth's hot hand that night. The Pats forced plenty of Mississippi turnovers, and Roth was at the other end of the basket, capping off Michael Ray Richardsons' fast breaks. "I play with so many guys that pass the ball well," Roth told the Times-Union's Tim Wilkin. "Everyone can pass the ball. And of course, it's easy to score when you go to the foul line so much."
His first two free throws gave Albany a 17-16 lead. Three minutes later, he sank two more, putting Albany in front 21-19. Except for Greg Grissom's two bricks and Derrick Rowland's 3-for-4 from the charity stripe, Scott Roth was the only Patroon at the free throw line.
He continued his free throw accuracy throughout the game, hitting his first eighteen foul shots in a row - a new CBA record that still stands to this day (Derrick Rowland swished 17 in a row in the previous season).
"Tonight was fun," Micheal Ray Richardson told the Times-Union. "Scott is the kind of player that gets open, and I'm the kind of player that gets the ball to guys that are open."
Mississippi did win the final quarter point, being the first team to win at least two quarter points against the Patroons all season. But two quarter points does not a Patroon defeat make, and Albany was still 9-0 on the young season, tying them with Musselman's 1985-86 Tampa Bay Thrillers for best start. Albany won its next two games, and were 11-0 before they lost to the Jets, 91-85, in Biloxi. Bill Musselman's hope of winning all 54 regular season games was crushed.
But Scott Roth's father was in the stands, watching his son play the best game of his pro career, tummyache or no tummyache.
And what happened to Ken Johnson and Kenny Natt? Ken Johnson arrived in Albany from Quad City (Musselman traded the rights to Mitchell Wiggins for Johnson), played three games for the Pats and quit. Johnson later returned in the 1988-89 season, playing the entire year under new coach George Karl.
As for Kenny Natt, his playing time decreased as Scott Brooks improved his game. Depressed about being left on the bench, Natt asked Musselman to either play him or trade him, preferably to an East Coast city so he could still maintain his family and home in the Capital District. Musselman agreed, and promised Natt he would find a team on the East Coast willing to make a deal.
Later that year, Musselman traded Natt to the Wyoming Wildcatters - a team nowhere near the East Coast.
White 9-12 6-6 24, Martin 5-7 1-3 11, Wilson 6-19 8-10 20, Jackson 7-9 3-4 18, Frederick 7-19 1-2 15, Hutt 1-2 2-2 4, Thompson 2-3 2-2 6, Papa 0-0 0-0 0, Siler 0-2 0-0 0, Mason 0-1 0-2 0. Totals: 37-74 23-31 98.
Rowland 9-16 3-4 21, M. Brooks 9-16 0-0 18, Roth 11-18 20-21 42, Lowe 0-3 0-0 0, S. Brooks 0-3 0-0 0, Richardson 5-14 0-0 11, Moore 2-5 0-0 4, Grissom 0-3 0-2 2, Natt 7-9 0-0 14, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 44-87 23-27 112.
MISSISSIPPI 25-21-24-28 98 2 ALBANY 23-29-33-27 112 53-point goals - Jackson, Richardson. Rebounds - Mississippi 38 (White 10), Albany 43 (Roth 12, M. Brooks 10). Assists - Mississippi 17 (Wilson 7), Albany 25 (Richardson 10). Total fouls - Mississippi 23, Albany 26. Technicals - none. A - 3,610.
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