Brothers Sam and Mike Rowley: Family comes first

Australian guard Peter Hooley who plays hoops and studies journalism at the University at Albany takes a look at sibling team mates Sam and Mike Rowley and finds out that family comes first.

Family comes first

Surround yourself with a college sporting team of any sort and you’ll hear many different things. However, one word that is sure to pop up a lot when a player is asked to describe their team is family. These athletes spend each day of nearly every year with their teammates, so not only do they get to know each and every player very well, their bond grows strong too. You’ll often see a team’s comradeship have a lot to do with their success. Whilst the term family may just be a description for some, for the Rowley brothers at the University at Albany, it’s a literal statement.

Growing up together in Sydney, playing basketball, going to school and even working there, Sam and Mike Rowley have had similar yet uniquely different upbringings. If you were to spend enough time with both of them, you would see this first hand. Yet after all the successes of their teenage years, it’s ended in a perfect situation to make any parent proud. Not only did they both receive NCAA Division I basketball scholarships in the United States, but they also managed to land them at the same school.

Sam Rowley looks to score - Courtesy University at Albany Media Relations

Yearly holidays have become a lot easier to plan for the Rowley family, and I’m sure they’d have it no other way. With four Australians on the roster (Luke Devlin has now graduated and is replaced by Geremy McKay in 2014/15), it allows us all to feel as part of the family vibe, and that’s a comforting feeling especially being so far from home. Luke Devlin and myself were invited along to spend Christmas with the Rowley family in New York City last year, to bring a family feeling we had often missed during the 'big' holidays.

In 2013 we managed a Cinderella run in the America East Tournament to earn an NCAA berth and a game against Duke in the first round. The Rowley family, including Mike made the spontaneous trip over just for that single game. A year later, for Mike’s freshman year, we wrote the same story as we made our way back to the NCAA tournament season and saw ourselves matched up in the first round play-in games, and sure enough, the Rowley’s were right there back in the first row in the stands.

It seems fitting that after both Sam and Mike enjoyed success in state basketball representing New South Wales, school basketball for Knox Grammar, and even at the junior national level representing Australia, that they both now share the same memory – being America East Champions. Yet the ride is far from over.

Mike Rowley boxing out against Siena - Courtesy University at Albany Media Relations

On paper the brothers look very similar in terms of their basketball skills. Both are strong power forwards with the ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot the open jump shot. Both play the ‘European style’ game, as our teammates would like to describe it; being able to score in a variety of skillful and unusual ways.

Having only played against Sam a couple of times prior to attending Albany together, I was unsure what to expect from him. A freshman year full of adjusting to the American style of play enabled him to really step up and flourish in his sophomore year. Mike had a very similar freshman year, as most international athletes quickly discover; the American style is very different. Mike played most of the year with a foot injury that required surgery as soon as the season ended. Put the injury aside, and with what we’ve already seen from him, you can expect big things in his sophomore year, just like his older brother Sam achieved. There’s a good chance that Sam will be selected in the preseason all conference team, and deservingly so. Had Mike not been limited by injury, the all-rookie team would have seemed likely as he was widely predicted to be there before the season began.

The Aussies at Albany: 2014 America East Champions - Courtesy Peter Hooley

However, individual accolades aside, these brothers have something more important and more memorable in mind. Both winning championship rings for the two years they’re together at school. Not too many siblings could say that, and with Sam entering his senior year and with the support of their family back home, the door is open for them to take it. That is what we are aiming for and we are all going to do our best to ensure that we can achieve it.

By the numbers: 2013/14

# Name School MIN PTS FG% 3P% FT% REB AST BLK STL TO 14 Sam ROWLEY Albany 29.2 11.1 51.40% 0.00% 69.30% 6.9 1.8 0.6 1.1 3.0 10 Michael ROWLEY Albany 10.3 1.9 33.30% 28.60% 65.40% 2.1 0.3 0 0.3 1.0

Peter will be providing regular content for #TeamPnR and you can also follow him on Twitter @PeterHooley12