Snowstorms can do plenty of damage to basketball games. For example, in February 1969, Schaefer Brewers promoter Al DeSantis scheduled a benefit game - the Schenectady Schaefer Brewers semipro basketball quintet against the New Haven Elms, in a benefit for Linton High / Brewer coach Walt Przybylo, who had suffered a recent heart attack. Even a heavy snowstorm couldn't keep the fans away that night - all the tickets were sold. Then the Brewers received word - the Elms were snowbound in Connecticut and couldn't make it to the game. "Przybylo Appreciation Night" was rescheduled for two weeks later, and an even larger crowd watched Barry Kramer and the Brewers chop down the Elms.
On March 13, 1991, the Albany Patroons faced a similar weather dilemma. Their opponents, the Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets (their owners made Coors Beer), had not yet arrived in Albany for tonight's game. The Bullets traveled through two snowstorms (one in Iowa and one in Chicago) and couldn't leave O'Hare Airport until 7:00 p.m. And that flight was delayed while O'Hare officials tried to move a plane that had slipped onto another runway. "When I saw that plane go off the runway," the Bullets' Brent Carmichael told the Times-Union, "I just wanted to say, '#&@! this.'" Someone even joked that the only way the Silver Bullets would arrive in Albany that night would be if Burt Reynolds drove them there, with Jackie Gleason in hot pursuit.
Meanwhile, the Patroons had another problem. Even though the game was essentially meaningless, as Albany already had the Eastern Division title and Cedar Rapids needed a ticket for the playoffs, the CBA demanded that if the Bullets could get to Albany, the game should be played that night - rescheduling it for Thursday would force the Patroons to play three home games in three straight nights.
That evening, the Patroon staff put out the word to the 1,600 people in attendance that the game would be approximately three hours late. They also got the word out through the TV and radio stations that anybody who wanted to watch a 10:00 game could come to the Knick and watch it for free.
At 10:00, the Bullets finally got into Albany Airport, jumped into a waiting van, careened down Central Avenue like Gene Hackman in The French Connection, stopped at the Knick, leaped out of the van, and ran onto the court for an immediate warm-up.
Meanwhile, Pats Vice-President Gary Holle warmed up the returning crowd (estimated at 500 people) by saying, "Good evening, again." He then provided each returnee with a free program, free hot dog, free soda, and a free ticket to one of the last two regular season home games.
Believe it or not, the game was a close one for the first three quarters, as Cedar Rapids twice came back from double-digit deficits. In the fourth quarter, with Albany leading 89-85, and with the carillon bell in City Hall chiming midnight, the Pats woke up. Albert King, the former NBA star who would later be voted CBA Newcomer of the Year, scored on an uncontested layup. The layup spurred the Patroons, who scored 19 points against 4 for the Bullets. "We knew that either they were going to come in and play a great game," King told the Troy Record, "or come in and be sluggish."
The game finally ended at 12:30, with Albany picking up yet another win. Pats radio announcer Mark Kestecher recalled the home team's mindset after the game. "Some of the players were talking about times when they played TV games on ESPN, and the only way their school could get an ESPN game was to play at midnight in the East Coast, a school like Richmond or some of the smaller schools."
The win gave the Patroons a 48-6 record, tying them with the Bill Musselman '87-'88 Patroons. Two more wins and they would be the first CBA team with 50 wins in a season. Two more wins and they would be the first professional basketball team with a perfect home winning record.
But for now, two more wins was not as important as getting a good night's sleep. The Pats' Albert King told the Troy Record, "A lot of these guys are out past their curfew."
SILVER BULLETS (103)|
Thibeaux 4-12 2-3 10; Durham 2-5 1-2 5; Blakely 5-11 4-4 14; McDaniel 12-27 2-4 29; Duncan 7-10 1-1 15; Marble 3-11 6-8 12; Jones 4-8 0-0 8; Carmichael 1-3 2-2 4; Newburn 0-0 0-0 0; Martin 3-8 0-1 6. Totals 41-95 18-25 103.
Stotts 4-8 0-0 8; King 9-13 0-0 18; Sanders 5-15 5-6 15; Morton 11-15 6-8 28; Askew 11-13 7-8 29; Smith 4-6 0-0 8; Harris 2-6 4-5 8; Graham 4-10 0-0 10; Fryer 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 50-90 22-27 124.
CEDAR RAPIDS 23-28-34-18 103 2 ALBANY 37-24-28-35 124 5Three-point goals: McDaniel 3, Graham 2. Rebounds - Cedar Rapids 45 (Duncan 9); Albany 46 (Sanders 14). Assists: Cedar Rapids 15 (McDaniel 4); Albany 25 (Askew 8). Total fouls - Cedar Rapids 24, Albany 22. Technical foul - Askew. A-1,610.
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