Former University at Albany standout forward Jason Graber remembers the 1994 NCAA Division III tournament Elite Eight game like it was yesterday.
“There were about two or three seconds left, and we were down two against NYU. I remember it clearly. We were so close to going to the Final Four,” said Graber, who will be one of three Great Danes and 49 players overall who will be inducted into the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The event is open to the public. Tickets are $75, and can be purchased by calling Rene LeRoux at 877-51070.
As it turned out, when UAlbany guard Garry Murray missed his Hail Mary jumper from just inside halfcourt, the Danes closed the book on a record-breaking season. They finished with a school-record 25-3 record.
“I think about it often,” said the 37-year-old Graber, who was inducted into the UAlbany Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. “We had a great run. It took that kind of success to get the support of the Albany community. We finally got people showing up to the games.”
The Schalmont High School graduate was a first-team all-area performer for the Sabres before beginning his UAlbany career.
For the Great Danes, Graber earned All-America, All-East and All-ECAC recognition. He finished his career among the school’s all-time scoring leaders with 1,608 points. An extremely accurate shooter, he also connected on 56.1 percent of his shots from the floor and 82.5 percent from the foul line.
During the Danes’ banner 1993-94 season, Graber averaged 20.3 points and 8.6 rebounds.
“My basketball career was great,” said Graber. “I was fortunate to play for some really good coaches, and had some great players around me. I had some tremendous experiences all the way from high school through college. In high school, my coach was Ron Osinski, and he was a great coach. I haven’t talked to him in quite a while. It will be good to see so many people I haven’t seen in a long time. I know [former Schalmont and Siena standout] Val Higgins is going in the Hall of Fame, and I see her out in the community all the time. Our kids play together.”
Graber, who lives in Rotterdam, is a pharmaceutical salesman for GlaxoSmithKline, and still plays quite a bit of basketball.
“I try to stay in shape, and I play in some men’s leagues, mostly at the YMCA,” he said. “A lot of the local guys still play, and we all have a lot of fun. The trick to Sunday will be trying to remember everyone’s name and face. Hopefully, I didn’t change too much.”
Also being inducted with UAlbany ties are former head coach Richard “Doc” Sauers, who posted a 702-330 record and led the Great Danes to 11 NCAA tournament appearances, and Lucious Jordan, a Colonie High School graduate who helped the Great Danes earn their first America East Conference regular-season title and NCAA Division I tournament berth.
Billy Harrell (Troy, Siena), Rod Owens (Catholic Central, Siena), Fred Shear (Waterford, Siena), Randy Cross (Mont Pleasant, Boston University), Lucious Jordan (Colonie, UAlbany), Jeff Robinson (LaSalle, Siena), John Leonard (Niskayuna, Manhattan), Jason Graber (Schalmont, UAlbany), Tom Bacher (Catholic Central, Union), Corey Osinski (Schalmont, Siena), Steve D’Agostino (Guilderland, Saint Rose), Fred Daniels (Albany, Siena), Kashif Hameed (Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Iona).
Debbie Barnes (Shenendehowa, Richmond), Laura Barnes (Shenendehowa, Richmond), Katrina Springer (Broadalbin-Perth, Southern Nazarene) Mary Fuchs (Germantown, Siena), Maureen Holohan (Troy, Northwestern), Tanya Hansen (Albany, Rutgers), Nikki Hilton (Troy, George Mason), Marcel Harrison (Troy, South Carolina State), Cathy Rousseau-Boland (Catholic Central, Siena), Jenn Scanlon (Shenendehowa, Duke), Kelly Scanlon (Shenendehowa, Tulane), Jolene Johnston (Shenendehowa, Siena), Stacy Hurd Wolfsberg (Catholic Central, Duke), Brenna Doty (Shenendehowa, Buffalo), Michelle Collins (Holy Names, Siena), Val Higgins (Schalmont, Siena), Jane Mead (Voorseheesville, St. Joseph’s), Robin Mortensen (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, St. John Fisher), Julie McBride (Catholic Central, Syracuse), Anita Kaplan (Bethlehem, Stanford), Nancy Egerton (Bishop Maginn, Niagara), Heather Fiore (Queensbury, Canisius), Katelyn Dooley (Lansingburgh, Siena), Becky Gottstein (Albany, Boston College), Carolyn Gottstein (Albany, Boston College, Bentley), Heidi Harkins (Bishop Scully, Siena), Kim Corbett (Colonie, Maine).
Richard “Doc” Sauers (UAlbany), Don Bassett (Catholic Central, Troy), Ron Sontz (Philip Schuyler), Walt Pryzbylo (Canajoharie, Nott Terrace, Linton), Mike Long (Saint Rose, Sage-JCA), Ken Strube (Shenendehowa).
Tom Brennan, Bill Varno, John Cahill Sr.