The Patroons had scheduled six of their 1991-92 regular season games in the Glens Falls Civic Center. That number was reduced to two games when the New York Kick indoor soccer team folded, freeing up four Knickerbocker Arena dates. And the two was reduced to a single December game when a measles outbreak charged through Glens Falls. The Armory was unusable at the time, there was a flower show at the Knickerbocker Arena - short of playing shirts and skins on a playground, the Patroons were without a court.
Enter Siena College, who agreed to provide their Alumni Recreation Center for the Pats' last regular-season home game. Quickly the Pats promotion office touted the game as a homecoming for former Siena scoring machine Marc Brown. Brown, the point guard who had been touted as the Pats' scoring savior at the beginning of the season, spent most of the season on the bench. On this night, Brown was pencilled into the starting lineup.
This was also one of the final basketball games played on the ARC's tartan floor. You can run fast on a tartan floor, stop on a dime and get nine cents change. Unfortunately, even though your sneakers stop on a tartan floor, your body's momentum continues - leading to twisted ankles and sore legs. Some of the visiting Birmingham Bandits joked on the pre-game radio broadcast that they hadn't played on a surface like this since the eighth grade. In the summer of 1992, the tartan floor of the Alumni Recreation Center was finally replaced by a standard maple floor.
Tonight's game was also a milestone for Derrick Rowland and the Albany Patroons. Rowland, who had been cut by Dean Meminger, traded by Phil Jackson, berated by Bill Musselman, welcomed by George Karl, waived by Charley Rosen and rejuvenated by Herman Kull; the man who held virtually every Patroon record; the man who became a part of the Albany community and who founded (along with Lowes Moore and Kenny Natt) the innovative Hoop School; the man who begged to play for the Patroons in that nightmarish first season; the man who was there eight of the Pats' first 10 seasons; the man with two CBA championship rings; the man who whether he wore 11, 30, 32 or 40, was affectionately known as "Doctor 'D'" and "Mr. Patroon" - he scored four points off the bench that night, then sat out the last game of the season against LaCrosse and did not play in the playoffs. Those four points ended an era; they were the last points Derrick Rowland ever scored with the Albany franchise.
Albany and Birmingham fought all night, and the score remained close even into the final minutes. With Birmingham leading 117-116 into the game's final minutes, Albany's Kenny Travis stole the ball from Birmingham's Skeeter Henry and went in for the layup. Albany now led, 118-117, with less than 20 seconds left.
Birmingham regained possession. Henry burned off fifteen seconds on the clock, then faked a shot toward the basket. Two Patroons went up to block. Henry passed the ball to his left, to Michael Cutright at the baseline. Cutright shot the ball as the clock ticked down.
The basketball ricocheted around the hoop, then dropped through as the horn sounded. Game over, Birmingham 119, Albany 118.
"It's unfortunate the way this one ended," said Keith Hughes to the Times-Union's Tim Wilkin. "We wanted to get the home court, now we just have to focus on winning a game [in Birmingham]," said the forward who completed a double-double that night (25 points, 20 boards).
"Just use a rubber stamp and say the Patroons blew another one," said a bitter coach Herman Kull to the Times-Union. Kull, the former coach of the bankrupt Bakersfield Jammers, replaced Charley Rosen in mid-season, and although the Pats won their first three out of four under Kull, they quickly dropped seven of their last nine.
That was the Patroons' final home game ever. They lost a best-of-one series against Birmingham in the CBA playoffs, not returning to the Knickerbocker Arena until they transmogrified into the Capital Region Pontiacs.
Henry 9-16 5-6 24, Thomas 3-12 8-8 14, Allen 4-10 5-6 13, Farmer 3-11 0-0 6, Johnson 2-13 7-7 21, Collier 2-7 2-2 6, Cutright 14-17 2-3 31, Youngblood 2-8 0-1 4. Totals 44-89 29-33 119.
Hilliard 2-6 2-2 6, Hughes 11-24 3-6 25, Lewis 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 4-9 1-1 9, Travis 11-20 8-12 33, Tillmon 11-16 3-4 25, Wright 5-7 6-7 16, Rowland 2-7 0-0 4, Jeffries 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 46-91 23-32 118.
BIRMINGHAM 33-31-24-31 119 5½ ALBANY 33-26-31-28 118 1½Three-point goals: Travis 3, Cutright, Henry. Rebounds - Birmingham 45 (Henry 11), Albany 46 (Hughes 20). assists - Birmingham 24 (Johnson 11), Albany 25 (Tillmon 8). Total fouls - Birmingham 24, Albany 29. Technicals - Hilliard (unsportsmanlike conduct). A-1,404.
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