Albany's 18-game winning streak was the longest in CBA history (although it would have been a 30-game streak if the team hadn't lost two close ones in December). And tonight, the Pats were "gunning" for their 19th win in a row. The Charleston Gunners, their opponents for the night, had a streak of their own - coach Gerald Oliver's team had just lost their 13th game in a row.
But the Pats hadn't played in eight days (since two back-to-back victories over Rockford and Quad City), and their players' legs were stiff and rusty. Meanwhile, the Gunners' lineup was overhauled more often than a '74 Plymouth. Players were signed, went to Europe, were traded - their oldest tenured player that night had been with the team less than two weeks.
A sellout crowd at the Armory greeted the weary Gunners and cheered the well-rested Patroons. But this game would be no high-scoring free-for-all. Albany took the shots, but few fell through the cylinder. "We were out of sync early," Tony Campbell told the Times-Union's Tim Wilkin. "I would be going to the hole or getting people in the air but just couldn't finish off the play. I think it was because we haven't had a game in so long."
"We had no legs," said guard Sidney Lowe to Mike Dyer of the Gazette. "We had tough practices and then we didn't hit our shots tonight."
But Albany did benefit from the fact that they were playing the hapless Charleston Gunners. Time after time the Gunners coughed up the ball, eight times in the first quarter alone. And Michael Brooks pulled down nine boards in the first half, finishing the game off with 15 and challenging the CBA record for most rebounds in a season.
The Pats' Tod Murphy spent 33 minutes on the court, collecting 15 rebounds, hitting 17 points, and finally catching coach Bill Musselman's attention. Murphy, who had ridden the pine after failing to hit clutch shots in key situations, hit four crucial points in the third quarter to stop a Charleston surge, giving Albany a 67-57 lead in the third quarter. "I hadn't been playing that much and I was losing some confidence in myself because I think [Musselman] was losing some confidence in me," Murphy told the Times-Union. "It felt good to be able to contribute."
Tony Campbell aided in the rally by stealing the Charleston ball and slamming a reverse jam. Campbell later scored when Sidney Lowe stole the ball and fed him for another slam. "It wasn't really scary out there," said Campbell to the Gazette. "We knew Charleston was on a losing streak but we never assume we will win."
Albany finally won the game, 83-69, and added 6½ standings points to their insurmountable lead (they would win the Eastern Division by more than 100 quarter points). The 69 points they permitted Charleston to score were the fewest against any opponent since the time Albany held the Wyoming Wildcatters to 68 points in December 1987. And Albany wasn't finished - on February 19, they handcuffed Wyoming 104-60, breaking Albany's own defense record.
In the Musselman biography, Timberwolves Stalk the NBA: Obsession, the 19-game winning streak drew NBA scouts like iron to a magnet. Some Patroons, including Scott Roth, Tony Campbell and Rick Carlisle, found themselves with NBA 10-day contracts.
When the Nuggets offered Michael Brooks a 10-day contract in March, Musselman decided to buck the trend. He felt Albany's rebound king deserved better than just a few games warming the bench, and told Brooks to resist signing with Denver unless they agreed to keep him on the team for the rest of the season.
The CBA was alarmed - Musselman's actions could have destroyed the NBA/ CBA working agreement, a contract funnelling millions of dollars to the CBA. CBA Commissioner Mike Storen even threatened the Patroons with lawsuits - even expulsion from the league was considered.
Patroons President Jim Coyne stood by his coach, believing as well that Michael Brooks was good enough to stay in the NBA. And one day later, Brooks signed an NBA contract and finished the year with the Denver Nuggets.
Byrnes 1-1 0-1 2, Combs 5-15 0-2 10, Miller 5-10 2-4 12, K. Henderson 3-6 6-8 12, Waller 9-19 0-0 18, McAllister 0-1 0-0 0, D. Henderson 3-8 4-6 10, Tyler 1-1 0-0 2, Graham 0-5 0-2 0, Spurling 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 28-69 13-25 69.
Rowland 6-14 2-2 14, M. Brooks 3-7 2-3 8, Roth 2-7 1-2 5, Lowe 2-4 0-0 4, S. Brooks 1-5 1-2 3, Richardson 3-13 0-0 6, Campbell 9-19 7-10 25, Murphy 5-10 7-7 17, Moore 0-1 1-2 1, Grissom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-80 21-28 83.
CHARLESTON 16-16-22-15 69 0½ ALBANY 19-18-22-24 83 6½Three-point goals: None. Rebounds - Charleston 36 (Miller 7), Albany 45 (M. Brooks, Murphy 15). Assists - Charleston 14 (K. Henderson 6), Albany 18 (Lowe 8). Total fouls - Charleston 23, Albany 27. Technicals - Graham (hanging on rim), Albany (illegal defense). A-4,513.
Australia begins celebrating its bicentennial.|
In the Olympics, Bonnie Blair wins the gold in speed skating.
Kirk Gibson of the Detroit Tigers signs a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.