Albacete Burning Hell
What a way to start a franchise. No players, an expansion draft, a 9th pick in rookie draft. The WBA had started one season before, and the new plans looked at 6 new teams that could only pick unprotected players with teams allowed to protect eight players each.
We have to start with something, and that is the first player ever to be in Albacete, his name, Frank Osteen, a serviceable PF on the offensive end who lacked a defensive presence. Three picks more were received in that trade. Like every expansion team, Albacete was expected to be a bad team, but they never counted with the desire of management to start to build something from the beginning. A frenzy of trades were made well even before the expansion draft was celebrated. The 9th pick was translated in the 7th pick, which was exchanged by a lot of picks more, and some of these picks ended with the first star in Albacete…John Riddle. We all thought that he was the franchise player for years to come, that Albacete had found a holy grail.
By then, the expansion draft started, with very sad results: Felipe Smith, Dave Brennan, Curt Wilson, Eddie Stuart, John Brett…only Brennan ended contributing with 7 points and 7 rebounds that season.
The draft was about to start, and Albacete found a player they coveted for long time. We knew he was going to be at 11th, but couldn’t find a way to trade for that pick unless Riddle was involved. GM didn’t hesitate and he triggered. Getting 4 lottery picks, one of them being Harry Jarvis this season. What could have been a good draft ended being a great one after selecting Bill Blackstone with the 43 th pick. Harry Hancock and George Burke were non-factors.
Having got Mike Reardon and Dave Thompson through trades, having selected Jarvis and Blackstone in the wings, only a frontcourt was needed, and Bill Cash was the answer, even overpaying by him.
The season was perfect; Albacete won 36 games, getting the last spot in the playoffs. Rookies scouting and trading aggressively were the key for the success. With no pressure, Albacete met in the first round with the top team that season, Brooklyn… and Blackstone exploded in that series averaging over 26 points, in one of these moment deserving to be in VINTAGE WBA. BB destroyed by himself to Brooklyn, but he was short of gas to do the same with London, and Albacete ended the second round being swept
PG: Mike Reardon. He was 19 by then, he got his first significant playing time, and he responded with 11 points and 5 assists
SG: Harry Jarvis. He is Albacete and Albacete is Harry Jarvis. He leaded the team from the start. 23 points shooting over 50% is great for a rookie. The heart and the soul of a team
SF: Bill Blackstone. He was the key. We all knew Jarvis was that good, but Blackstone added a boost unexpected. A relentless scorer in the regular season with 17 points and 6 boards, really exploded in playoffs averaging over 25 points
PF: Frank Osteen. Someone had to play
C: Bill Cash. Six fouls to give, six millions to earn, 9 points to add
With a great first season, Alabcete’s people didn’t want to celebrate. A championship was the goal, and we still hadnt won one. The team was good enough to be in the playoffs for years to come, but with some of the players signed in the inaugural draft gone for good, a new frontcourt was freferential. Bill Cash, Dave Brennan, Frank Osteen were serviceable big men, but to be frank, they were scrubs. A new sheriff was needed to come to platrol the zone, and Albacete had good assets to make a trade work. In a season 2 deal, we got the 5th pick overall. That pick would have been a good one to get a good even a great player, but Lou Gonzales and Kent Mercer were going to be selected before, and we decided to trade it (now i miss not to have waited for Parker Mason or Heiko Van Brandt). The player was Larry Chapman, a solid big man capable to average 20 points and 10 boards in any given night. With a core of Jarvis, Blackstone and Chapman, the scoring department was well covered, but there was still a lot of voids to fill
That year’s draft was awful… with 22th pick we selected Shawn Newman, a player who never lived up to the hype he generated as a college star and Chaim Sowders with the 54th pick who played as expected for a player selected that low.
Free agency had some nice results. We added Jim Donelly to our team, and two former siberian players in Marty Atkinson and undrafted rookie Goirdon Whitehouse who ended being a Cinderella history in the league, even receiving top 6th man award in 2 seasons. Jin Donelly was traded to London for a much needed PG in Antonio Swift who didnt need to shoot the ball to be happy. With the backcourt set, and Chapman at the middle, only a PF was needed in the worst way. With a single pick and one of the worst players ever to play in a basketball court, we landed Jim Fox, a veteran big man capable of scoring when needed, crash the boards, block some shots…and you cant forget Bill Blackstone signing a new contract.
The season was a good one, we improved our record, thanks in part to a new trade which resulted in exchanging Chaim Sowders in monter rebounder Kris Kalhoun. We went from 36-44 to 51-29, thats 15 games improvement. But thing inside the team werent as good as the previous season. Chapman came to the team asking to be the man. His character never went along with Harry Jarvis and Bill Blackstone and it had an effect in team’s play. The coach tried desperately to even the plays for every player, and you can see it in the averages of 20.5, 20.2 and 19.7 they ended with. The playoffs were celebrated with escalated tension in the locker room and it ended with a first round sweep under the feet of Washington
PG : Antonio Swift. He was asked to distribute the ball, and he did it. He was asked to share the plays between the big three and he ended crazy. 6 points and 8 assists were a good stat line for him. The backup spot was splitted between Duke Robinson and Mike Reardon
SG : Harry Jarvis. He ended the season 3rd in scoring and that was bad for team’s chemist, his 19.7 points in over 50% shooting are great, but he was frustrated all year. He ended asking for Chapman’s head in a silver plate…like always he got his wish.
SF : Bill Blackstone. With a new contract under his belt, he wanted to demostrate he wasnt overpaid and he got career highs of 20.5 points and 7.9 boards. His relationship with Jarvis was great, and he felt safe
PF : Jim Fox. He had a good season, but as a veteran, he should have been a pacificator in this locker room. He shot over 60% for 10 points together with 8 boards, 4 assists and 2 blocks, be he lacked leathership.
C : Larry Chapman. His legend as a locker room cancer started here. He destroyed an enviroment almost perfect. His 20.2 points and 11.2 boards were great, but he wasnt the player to drive us to the promise land
Given that season 3 had ended with a lot of bad blood, team responsibles decided to cut with it as soon as possible. No major trades were made before draft, but we knew that some chages had to be made to keep our track. Since that trade of Jhohn Riddle, we had what ended being the 9th pick in draft. With Blackstone and Jarvis like our unique safe players, we had to select the best available player, who ended being Dimitri Kolosov…well, he wasn’t the best available player, passing on players like Alvin Simpson and Arnold Eaton. He was a bad fit since the very first day and he ended traded very fast. In the second round, we got two players who ended contributing in the league, Keyon Brown, a center with an offensive game, but some deffensive problems and Dominyk Lang, who has even started in some playoff teams.
Our only key free agent that season was Larry Chapman, and he was intentionally downballed with his offer. Chapman wanted to be the best paid player on the team, and GM didn’t accept it. He ended signing a very lucrative deal for Baltimore, who never made the playoffs again. That left Albacete without a center again, and we invested on a young, promising player called Marty Williams for half the money that was asked by Chapman. In that process, Gordon Whitehouse resigned for 5 seasons. Dino Robbins was the other player signed in this period. So Albacete was ready to start the season with a starting 5 of Robbins-Jarvis-Blacstone-Fox-Williams. Enough to make the playoffs, not enough to win it all, but we believed in a young team.
When the season started, results werent as good as they were in season 3. We saw a promising team, but the crowd wanted to win not to develop players, and they started to boo the team. There was a divorce between the conception of a basketball franchise between the fans and the GM and there was a lot of changes in the staff. Theres a saying that tells that you cant bite the hand that gives your food, and we decided to sacrifize a little the future for some present. Kolosov and a future pick were traded to Midland for the rights of Eugenie Lamaitre, resulting a very attractive backcourt and the fans cheered about it. But bot Lamaitre and Jarvis wanted to play SG and it never resulted. Blackstone played some PF to free time at the SF for them, but when they were together on the court, no one played like a SF, and the crowd started to woo again. BTW, in that process we ended losing the rights of selecting Austyn Williams the following draft.
Before the trade deadline, some changes were made in the team. Lamaite and Robbins were shown the door, getting a player with some talent for rebounding in Langstraat and a PG who ended being fundamental y the history of this team Bill Andrews. Besides, the patience with Marty Williams ran off and he was exchanged for a lot of draft picks. These changes didn’t liked people and the enviroment were the home games were celebrated was very bad, Albacete won more games as a visitor than as a home team for a record of 47-33. Blackstone, Jarvis and Andrews shared the offensive game, and very few players decided to play some defense.
In the playoffs, we were the 7th seed and had to play with Gabon, the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference. No one gave us a shot at it, but the legent of the GiantKiller grew. Once again, Bill Blackstone led the team in playoffs, but against washington we felt short, losing 4-2
PG: Bill Andews. He added a scoring punch from the PG spot we never had. His 18 points and 8 assists were a great adition.
SG: Harry Jarvis. Jarvis improved without Chapman, but he never connected with Lamaitre and started to develop a history of `not easy going’ player
SF: Bill Blackstone. Once again he led the team in scoring with 22 points and 7 rebounds. You cant ask fo more production
PF: Jim Fox. HE played well, but we all can feel this player could make a lot more if he had the desire. 10 points 6 rebounds and 2 blocks werent very bad
C: Peter Langstraat. PL was addet to crash the boards and that’s what he did. 5 points and 12 boards were the production
At the end of Season 4, we had a big problem. Albacete’s top players Bill Blackstone and Harry Jarvis ended their contracts and loosing one of them would make the team to walk backwards. Of course, we had a lot of money to spend, but we didn’t know how the market was going to be that summer.
First of all, we had a exciting draft, Albacete would have 2 picks in the lottery (4th and 11th overall)and one more in the late 1st round. The result was one of the worst drafts selections in league’s history. Only one relief. Albacete traded 4th pick for Jim Wilson and the 7thpick, where the player we coveted would be still available. With the 7th pick, we selected Tony Alfonso, a SG with a great scoring ability and skills to play the PG spot. Nash Badger was selected 11th overall, he was one other SG we felt like the best player available. With 25th pick we selected PG Hick Carpenter, and with 39th SF Tim Boham came to the city. You have to remember that Alfonso was a top 4 player in every mock draft and Badger was defined as the best all around player in draft. Summer leagues got started, and sadly, team coaches started to see that they didn’t adjust to WBA game. They were being abused by lesser players, and I was a revelation, that season 5 was THE WORST DRADT SELECTION made by one team in WBA’s history.
Then came free agency. Knowing little help would come from rookies, GM push the Panic Button as we made monster offers to resign our free agents. Blackstone and Jarvis agreed for offers valued over 20 M a year. To sign them, we had to move Jim Fox Contract to Virgin Island, exchanging it for some picks. Jarvis’ contract was market wise, but Blackstone’s one doubled the best offer he had. The little money we had, was used to sign undrafted rookie PF Paul Dilmore, who ended being the best rookie in Albacete, enough said. Drake Bacheman was signed too for a low contract, maybe a great adquisitions since he is one of the best passers in the league.
The season started with a starting five of Andrews-Jarvis-Blackstone-Whitehouse-Wilson, that’s a good starting unit on paper, but with a lot of conditioning issues in the frontcourt, Whitehouse and Wilson could barely play more than 20 minutes. Besides, fornt office was scared with Blackstone’s contract, thinking that it would hurt flexibility. Coaches had a lot to say too. The team had too much scoring, everyone in the starting five was a shoot first player. The season was being a winning one, but once again, we weren’t on the top. And by the trade deadline, Albacete decided to shake things up a little. In a big 3-way trade, we traded Bill Blackstone, some picks and unloaded Alfonso and Badger, and we got Jim Donelly and Donovan Jones. It was sad to part ways with Blackstone, but that was a great trade talent wise and salary wise, cutting like 8 million in costs. Donelly was a totally different player to Blackstone. Looknig always for the pass, he became a fan favorite. Donovan Jones started too the rest of the season. Things started to improve. Two unselfish players sharing the ball to the likes of the 4 scoring machines we had. The season ended with a 50-30 record, 6th in the East, and headed against Gabon one more time. Harry Jarvis dominated that season, scoring 26 points a game. Bill Andrews, Whitehouse and Wilson ended with 12, 11 and 10 points a game. Once again Peter Langstraat was the best rebounder with 10.2. Three players ended with over 5 assists.
In the playoffs, once again we were the underdog against Gabon, but the giant killer legend was made stronger with a 3-2 win. Washington, 2nd seed received us and was destroyed 4-2. Once again, we ran out of gas in the Conference Fials against London
PG: Bill Andrews. His scoring went down, but he had to share that responsibility with a lot of teamates. Drake Bacheman was his backup with a whooping 4.5 assists in 17 minutes he played
SG: Harry Jarvis. He played his best basketball. Scored 26.1 points and gave 3.8 assits. The heart and the soul of the team
SF: Jim Donelly. He was a total change with Blackstone. 7 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists was his production, good defense and care with the ball.
PF: Gordon Whitehouse. A great talend on a crappy body, Whitehouse scored well enough to play 20 minutes. Donovan Jones played too the PF with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assistsand 2.6 blocks
C: Jim Wilson. He played 20 minutes a night and got 10 points and 8 boards that’s great, but you have to have a great backup for the rest of the tteam, and Langstraat is.
Four season in the life of the franchise. Four playoffs appearances. Props from the specialized press. Not enough. Albacete wanted to take the next step. Like always, we were a player short of the Promised Land. The season before had ended with the team in the Conference Finals, but we had some players ending their contracts. With a 6th pick, we expected to get a big man, but that class draft was a little thin in frontcourt players. The very first decision was to trade tat pick to Nebraska for 4 more picks, including 18th pick which was used to select Michael Kutak, a combo guard well known in the GCBA for his fierce defense and scoring ability. Karl Maloney and Andy Dilbert were selected in the second round.
It wasn’t a bad draft. Kutak was a great pick, but sadly for him, the positions he could play were well covered in Bill Andrews and Harry Jarvis. Maloney contributed as a backup and that is the best you can expect in a 2nd rounder.
Then free agency came, and the debacle for the team is only comparable to Cleveland Cavaliers with Carlos Boozer. With GM visiting Paris, and expecting to come back home 2 days before the free agency period would start, an airport’s staff strike had him 4 days more there. When he arrived, the damage was not reparable. Donovan Jones and Jim Wilson had agreed offers with other teams, weakening extremely Albacete’s frontcourt. The panic was patent in the front office, as no players of quality were left. Albacete only could arrange deals with Gus Rizzolo and Russ Chase, two second tier players at the best.
The season started, and like always, Jarvis took control. The team wasn’t as good as before, but we managed to keep a winning record. From the start of the season, we were negotiating a trade in what could have been the longest negotiation in WBA’s story, with over a month of daily conversations with Colorado, well, all veteran owners know how was a negotiation with Marc. Our obscure object of desire was Bobby Cress the center of Colorado. And We had a problem. Marc wouldn’t let it go easily, not even hardly. The trade was finally made with the participation of Brooklyn, and it resulted with Albacete sending 2 lottery picks and Peter Langstraat to Colorado and Russ Chase to Brooklyn, and getting Bobby Cress, and some future low first round picks. With Cress in the line-up, we finally had a presence in the middle. The team started to play better and better, and was even being considered as a favourite to win it all, but fate had a last surprise for us, and with 7 games to end the season, Bobby Cress suffered a heart attack and was done for the season. That was a low blow for us, Albacete lost 5 of that last 7 games playing without a real center. The record was good (54-26) but the sensations were terrifying.
Albacete was the 4th seed and got the home court advantage for the first time ever. London was the rival, the arch-enemy who had a real center. We fought really hard, winning 2 games, but we had no shoot at winning in any of the 3 losses. Frank Fitzerald tried to cover Cress’ loss, but his 14 points a game were only accompanied by 3 rebounds.
PG: Bill Andrews. Solid, like always. His numbers don’t tell the whole history of how good he is. His backup Drake Bacheman gave more than 5 assists in 19 minutes
SG: Harry Jarvis. Not as good as the season before, but with 22 points a game he leaded the charge
SF: Jim Donelly. Never spectacular, but his contributions were huge. 9 points, 6 boards, 6 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Gus Rizzolo aported scoring with 12 points and 6 boards
PF: Gordon Whitehouse. 13 points and 6 boards were good contributions for him.
C: Bobby Cress. 13 points, 10 boards and 3 blocks were the best C the team had had in history
After a tragic exit in season 6 playoffs, there were strong evidences that the fan base of the team was tired of good regular seasons without success in postseason. The Championship was the only goal in the franchise, and only a player in the league was a safe pick for this team. His name Lou Gonzales, the best defender in the league and only one problem, but a big one: Gonzo was not in my team. Kevin Harper was the proud owner of the center and had zero intentions to let him go. Immediately after the Finals, Albacete started negotiations which lasted for weeks. After some days of a flat NO WAY IM TRADING LOU, Oregon began to consider some offers, but the asking price was too much high for any team to swallow. Finally, Albacete got their interest by throwing a lot of lottery draft picks, a bunch of second round picks and a promising young player in Michael Kutak The trade was a boost for Albacete, who became the inmediate favourite for the championship.
The draft was bad again. With 19th pick, we got a great defender at the GCBA level, but he had no offensive game. Alfred Hodge never had the chance to contibute. But with a late 2nd round pick, Albacete found an interesting role player in Tre Freeman, a player with a very bad stamina but an offensive machine when needed.
With Lou in the team, some adjustments needed to be made, because two great centers were on the team, and the very first thoughts were towards trading Bobby Cress for a top point guards, but none of them were availables or the asking price was out of range. For the time preseason started, no trades were made, and coach Alcaraz started to play Cress at PF as a temporary solution, and the it happened. Bobby Cress started to play his best minutes as a proffesional player, Lou and him devastated every single frontcourt around the league, combining for 39 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks and 4 steals per game. You cant find a duo like that in the WBA. But every great team needs a balance in his game, and a great frontcourt needs to be complemented by a decent backcourt at least. Bill Andrews and HArry JArvis were the primary weapons from the guards’ spot. Jarvis led the team in scoring at 23.5 points, and both combined for 39 points and 10 assists. We had 4 great players, 78 points per game. But a team needs always role players, and Albacete had the definitive team player starting at SF. Jim DOnelly was the glue on this team, playing good defense, being the top passer, drawing fouls, and helping with the defensive rebounds. As a result of such a staring 5, the bench was weak again. Gordon Whitehouse was the unique quality player in the second unit, but played his butt every night deserving the title of TOP 6th man.
The record talked by itself, 69 wins and 11 losses. Ten wins better than the second team in the league. Top scoring team at 113 points and good perspectives coming playoffs time.
The playoffs started with an easy victory over Gabon (3-1) and Brooklyn (4-1), BUt we needed to play a 7th game in the conference finals agains Washington. With that awakening, Albacete started to give his best effort and ended with a sweep against Cancun in the Finals.
PG: Bill Andrews. Not a prototypical PG, Andrews was mor of a scorer than a playmaker. He shot great (over 50%) and averaged 15 points and 6 assists. He clearly benefited to be the open man with such the scorers albacete had
SG: Harry Jarvis. You can bring the best plaer in the league. Jarvis wont back down. Gonzales arrived to Albacete and Harry J managed to be the top scorer in the team. He averaged 23.5 points shooting over 50% and gave a carrer high 4.3 assists. His game improved even more in the playoffs, averaging almost 36 points, shooting at 54% and giving 4.7 assists
SF: Jim Donelly. His numbers wont jump at you in this team, but he was a key factor with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The unselfish player every great team needs
PF: Bobby Cress. At the start of the season, Bobby didnt want to play PF, but this was his best season as a pro. 18 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks gave him the recon as ALL-WBA PF. Little experince costed him a little in playoffs, because his production dropped to 16 points and 10 rebounds
C: Lou Gonzales. HE was a beast. Maybe not the one man show he were used to seeing in Oregon, but he was deadly in the zone, shooting 57% (62% in playoffs) and averaging 22 points and 8 rebounds
Celebrations did not lasted enough in Albacete after the first championship in thier history. There were two reasons: firstly, the feud between Harry Jarvis and Lou Gonzales; second the desire of the management of playing a faster paced basketball. As for the rift, Gonzales considered himself the best player in the game, and he (along with his ego) never assumed being eclipsed for a teammate; Jarvis always has been the heart and the soul in Albacete, and not even the most dominant player in the league was going to change that. Gonzo asked the coaching to change the orientation of the game to have more touches, asking for Jarvis to set up in the three point line waiting him to distribute the ball. When Jarvis knew about it, he demanded the team to choose between one of them… they would not play together again. Management had to make a hard election, but it was not too difficult at the end, trading Lou would allow to build around Jarvis a dynamic team and some young assets, and trading Jarvis would make the team to lose his identity.
GM took the decision. Lou Gonzales was put in the market, and of course you cant get equal value for a player like this one, even more when you are offering him. There were some lowballing offers, some decent ones and then the chance to get the hands on a top pick in the upcoming draft, for a really loved player in the staff. Oregon had lots of picks and some interesting players, and the serious talks started. Finally, after weeks of negotiating, Lou Gonzales was in his way back to Oregon, while Albacete received young players like Omar Jefferson, Nick Adams and Dontae Evans and two picks in the following draft, being one of those picks a sure top 3 pick.
With this new supporting cast, Albacete had the second pick in that draft, and with the unanimous decision of Jay Vasquez as the top pick, there were little doubts about picking Brad Bangerter with the 2nd choice. IN the second round, Albacete selected Jamal Duncan who never played for the team.
The free agency period was just testimonial, given that there were no cap room available, and just the signing of Angel Rojas, an undrafted rookie who ended finding a niche in the rotation could be mentioned.
The season started with a very well known starting five of Bill Andrews, Harry Jarvis, Jim Donelly, Brad Bangerter and Juwan Bixby. But the fans started to ask questions, the players coming in Gonzo´s trade were not playing significant time, and not even one of them could crack the starting five: Nick Adams plaed 16 minutes and missed 22 games, Dontae Evans played barely 18 minutes and Omar Jefferson averaged 10 minutes in 48 games. The summary, 68 games missed, 15 minutes averaged each one and 17 points per game. With all that Albacete was playing well enough to get the attention of their rivals. Harry Jarvis played the rol of captain and conjured the rest of the team to play even better defense that the time Gonzales was around. The results were obvious, Albacete was the best defense of the league allowing 94.8 points per game, just allowing the rivals to get the 40.6 % of FG. The offensive load was in Jarvis’ shoulders again, helped for the trio of Bill Andrews, Gordon whitehouse and Bobby Cress who scored 13 points per game each one. Donelly was making the dirty work.
We all know Albacete fan base is very very exigent, and rookie Brad BAngerter, even with his loads of potential was having a hard time finding his rythm. The crowd was more impatient every single game, and with such an ugly name, things were going in the worst possible way. Then, Cancun arrived with an offer loaded of picks, in fact it was 3 first round picks and 3 second round picks, and Albacete decided not to invest a dollar or a second more in Bangerter. With this substraction, the results were going down, but the defense was keepeng the team on the top of their division. At the end, ALbacete had the best record in the Eastern Conference, just Oregon had more wins, and the step back was only about ten game (Albacete won 59 games).
The playoffs were dissapointing at the best. The first round should have been easier, but Gabon forced Albacete to the 5th game of the series. The second round was against Birmingham, a team which is a bad fit for the Burning Hell. Every team won their home games until BIrmingham upset albacete in the 5th game, making them to go for the back door from the season. Its ironic that Jarvis, Andrews and Cress improved their performances in the postseason dramatically, but the supporting cast choked big time.
PG: Bill Andrews: Andrews played very well his role. NOt known for his number of assists, Andrews scored when needed. His 13 points and 6 assists during the regular season were a good complementary stats of Jarvis. During the playoffs, he made 17 points and 6 assists in 58 % shooting
SG: Harry Jarvis: Jarvis showed he is the man and made a case of it with his feud against Gonzales. He responded to the confidence with a great season where he averaged 25 points a game, with 2 boards and 3 assists. In the playofs he was lethal with 29 points, 3 boards and 4 assists, but he could not do it for himself
SF: Jim Donelly: Donelly had to fight for the starting spot with the newcomer Nick Adams, and was projected to start the game from the bench. But with Adams not preforming as expected, and Jonelly doing all that things that dont figure in stats. His defensive effort was a key for the team success. 9 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists with 2 steals and 1 block dont tell the whole story
PF: Gordon Whitehouse: The first power forward was Brad Bangerter, but the primary player and the starter after Bangerter´s trade was Gordon. His offensive spark was very important in limited time. 13 points and 6 boards in 23 minutes are great number to pay for him. The problem was his performance in the playoffs where he dropped
C: Bobby Cress: Cress came back at the center after Lou’s trade, and played a good season. He allowed Jarvis to capitalize the offense. His 13 points and 9 boards were improved for his 17 points and 9 boards in the playoffs
Season nine was considered since two seasons before as a season to retool the team with some young people without sacrificing too much the winning options. The team went from 69 wins in season 7 to 59 in season 8, and the fans wouldnt allow to drop much more. The way this season was to be focused was set in the trade with Oregon the year before. Lou Gonzales was traded and Albacete received some young role players and two picks with upside. The core was Jarvis-Cress again with the expected aportation of Bill Andrews and Gordon Whitehouse to help in the offensive end…but plans never go your way.
The lottery was good news for the franchise. Albacete had the option to choose between the best 2 pick that Oregon owned, and they resulted to be the picks 1 and 2. For the first time ever, Albacete was the first team selecting in a draft with very good players in the top. Besides, Albacete had the picks 12 and 19 and the future could not be brighter.
That Siberia University players are of the likes of Albacete management is not a secret. But no one knew how far this afinity would go. It was a draft with the first four picks closed, Bishop Stein, Tyler Kane, Edgar Kamara and Juwan Bixby, it just left to know the order. Juwan Bixby was the top player in GCBA the season before, and most of the league was believing about him as the top pick, even more with Albacete needs at the frontcourt. But Tyler Kane was an attractive option, and he was a Siberian and you never can count him off the Albacete sweeptakes. The debate had been created. Everyone around the league knew that Kane as a top pick was a reach, and Albacete started to try trading down. Oregon never answered calls, and Colorado asking price was too high. London had the 4th pick and they were receptive. At that point Albacete still was thinking that Kane would be available with this pick. It was a hard deal to swallow, but if Albacete wanted to get Bixby and Kane, something needed to be made. The trade for the 4th pick involved picks 12 and 19 along with Nick Adams… a lot to give up but we had what we wanted. The dradft was about to start when things started to complicate, Oregon theathened to select Tyler Kane with the 2nd pick if Bixby was not around, Colorado was thinking about Kane too if Bixby and Bishop Stein had been selected, and the conclusion was that Kane could be easily selected before the 4th pick. The next decision was very controversial around the league and created some discussions with some staments in the league. Albacete decided to select Tyler Kane as the top pick in draft in a risky decision. The surprise around the league was great, ans some GMs called it the worst decision in draft history. But there were some of the best observers working for Albacete, and their advice was clear, there was a chance to get Bixby AT 4th pick!!! Oregon picked Bishop Stein at the 2nd and Colorado selected Kamara next. Albacete then had the option to pick Bixby and didnt pass. It still was not understanded by some journalists and GMs (specially from bad teams which are bad because of not understanding this), but Albacete had the players they wanted at 1st and 4th at 4th and 1st. Stan Lee was selected in the second round, but he never was a factor for this team.
Plans started to collapse in free agency. Albacete had some key free agents to resign and lots of money to spend. Bill Andrews, Jim Donelly and Gordon Whitehouse were the top priority, 2 starters and the 6th man are very important for a team with the need of keeping in a winning way. Oregon had other plans and chose Bill Andrews to be the mentor of Bishop Stein, the offer was so good that Andrews inmediatelly accepted, leaving Albacete shocked without a point guard ready to play right now, given that Tyler Kane was projected not to help too much in his first two seasons. Donelly and Whitehouse were resigned for reasonable contracts, while Dontae Evans looked for his fortune far from Albacete. Omar Jefferson went away too, and the 1st pick was the only asset albacete was keeping form trading Lou Gonzales the season before. With the need for a starting PG as the primary target, Albacete tried to change their philosophy, contracting a pass first point guard, and Keith Douglas came to mind. Douglas signed a long term contract although in the end, everyone knew that his starting spot would last 2 seasons at the best. Paul Wright and Jason Moss joined the team too to give more depth to an already filled bench.
The regular season was a hard as a season can be for such a young team. Kane played from the bench, learning how to create an offensive game, but he showed plashes with his passing and his defense. Bixby was as good as expected, maybe not a lot of points scored, but he had promise behind. The wins dropped again, with 51 of them, but the buzz around the team was a optimistic one.
The playoffs were disaponinting. After a first round sweep of London, with a great performance, people wanted to win Washington finally in a playoff match up. Seven games were enough to show the opposite.
PG: Keith Douglas. Douglas was signed to pass the ball, and while his assists werent too much (8.6 a game), he was a good floor leader. He scored 11 points too, but he commited almost 3 turnovvers a game, and his defense was far from tenacious.
SG: Harry Jarvis. Jarvis scored 24 points one more season, but his apportation dropped in the other aspects of the game but the defense, whre he stole over 2 ball per game. His name as a hall of famer started to be heard frequently. His playoff performance involved more other aspects of his game. He was by far the best player of the team, but at the end, it was not enough…again
SF: Jim Donelly. Donelly started to experiment what happens when your age is increasing. His stats dropped in every area, but he was still an improtant player for the team, with his defense, and helping to distribute the ball.
PF: Bobby Cress. Cress played power forward again to help Juwan Bixby to play his natural position and allow him to learn the game as soon as possible. He played great again, averaging 18 points and 10 boards in 31 minutes, and he had people asking if he was a real center.
C: Juwan Bixby. Bixby had a good rookie season, with 12 points and 6 boards in 31 minutes. He showed he could excel as a frontcourt player, and the only flaw in his game was his rebounding ability. His work ethic made the coaching staff to wonder he would improve in every area
The players form the bench could start for some teams in this league. Tyler Kane, Paul Whrigt and Gordon Whitehouse were quality players who renounced to start for the team, but they were awarded with significant playing time