Friday, July 30, 2010

Downey Brothers Team Up for ESG Gold

They might not be quite as accomplished as the Thompson brothers (current NBA Sacramento king Jason Thompson and younger brother Ryan, who is hoping for his own professional career) of Rider, but the Downey brothers aren't that far behind.

Call former Canisius standout Kevin Downey and current Siena junior Kevin Downey the "second family" of the MAAC.

For those with short memories, Kevin was one of the better players to wear a Canisius uniform, a versatile 6-3 guard who scored 1,578 career points there while averaging 3/5 assists and 4.3 rebounds over his 116-game four-year career that concluded with the 2005-06 season.

Kevin has been a key reserve for Siena for the past two season, although his sophomore season was injury plagued. Now healthy, he appears to be in contention for a starting role in 2010-11 or, at worse, be the team's top backcourt reserve.

But, with an age gap of six years, the Downey brothers had never before played together as teammates at any level.

That changed recently when they teamed up as members of the Western region's men's basketball team in the Empire State Games held in Buffalo. The result was that they helped the Western squad capture the event's championship.

Prior to the Games your blogger talked to Kyle Downey about the upcoming Games, and the Siena player admitted he was very much looking forward to playing there.

"It will be fun to play with Kevin," said Kyle. "I'm pretty sure he'll defer to me when we play. I'm still building my college career. He's pretty much done with competitive situations."

Kyle wound up as his team's leading scorer in the Games, including a 21-point effort in an 86-81 victory over a team from the Adirondack region in the July 25 championship game. Kevin, playing through an ankle sprain, added six points and four assists in that contest.

The brothers had hoped to play together in the 2008 Games, but Kyle was recovering from a back injury and was unable to participate. The Empire Games were cancelled in 2009 due to budgetary concerns.

"We're usually fighting with each other and now we're trying to play with each other," Kyle told the Buffalo News. "We had no choice but to get along but it was a lot of fun."

"Being a six- or seven-year age difference it's the first time we've been able to play on a team together," Kevin said. "It's a little different, but it was definitely good. We both knew what the other was doing so it was a good feeling."

Kevin works as a sales rep for G&G Fitness in Rochester and in the past served as an assistant coach for Nazareth College. He didn't coach this year so he could watch Kyle play at Siena.

"This is the first summer I've been healthy enough to play with him and it helps that we're brothers because we both know what we're doing," Kyle said. "Usually we don't have a lot of practices so the team with the best chemistry usually goes far. Basically, me and Kevin have the same game."

And, now, they each have an Empire State Games gold medal.

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