By Jonah Bronstein
Niagara Gazette — Four years ago, Robby Seyler and Putter Brown were rivals in the Niagara Frontier League.
Two years ago, they were both the leading scorer on their college teams.
Now they're playing together at Medaille College, rookie reserves fitting into unfamiliar roles and reveling in being part of a winning culture.
Seyler graduated from Lewiston-Porter High School as the program's all-time leading scorer. He went on to net more than 1,000 points in two seasons at Niagara County Community College and earn a scholarship to play at Walsh University, an NAIA program in Canton, Ohio.
While Seyler was tearing up the nets at N-trip, Brown, a Niagara Falls High School graduate, was scoring 15 points per game as a freshman at Keuka College.
But both players found themselves back home last season, their basketball careers on hiatus.
Medaille coach Mike MacDonald was quick to recruit Seyler, whom he almost landed out of high school, and was intrigued when Brown contacted him via email.
"I knew if things didn't work out (at Walsh), I'd be coming to Medaille," Seyler said.
"The first school I contacted was Medaille," Brown said. "Everybody in Niagara Falls knows Coach Mac and knows how good of a coach he is."
Both players found themselves behind established seniors at their position. Seyler, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, backs up Tyler Stevens while Brown, a 6-foot-1, self-described "hustle forward," relieves Anthony Battaglia.
Seyler is averaging 6.4 points in 13.0 minutes per game and Brown is average 3.4 points in 11.0 minutes. But MacDonald said getting bench contributions from both players has been key for the Mavericks, who are 13-8 overall and 10-4 in conference play heading into tonight's home game with D'Youville.
In games in which Seyler has scored nine or more points, Medaille is 6-1.
"When we can get double figure points off the bench from him, we are nearly unstoppable," MacDonald said. "For a couple of reasons: it's always good to have scoring off the bench, and he is so well-liked by his teammates that when he scores, it's like an energy bolt for the team."
MacDonald said Brown's statistic don't reflect the all-around contributions he's made in his limited minutes.
"His role is to come in and give us energy off the bench, rebound, defend, score a little bit and make hustle plays, which is different from Keuka where he just shot," MacDonald said. "He's been a great role-player for us and, like Robby, when he comes off the bench and gives us some scoring, it really raises the rest of the team."
"Putter is a workhorse," Seyler said. "He's a great defender, rebounder, he comes off the bench with energy. He's definitely gotten a lot better since high school."
Both players have had to adjust to not being able to shoot at will, particularly Seyler.
"I used to want to just do it all," Seyler said. "I'm getting used to picking and choosing on the court and getting the best shots."
"At first it kind of bothered me," Brown said. "I was playing 28 to 32, sometimes 36 minutes a game and I was the leading scorer. As soon as I got here my role switched. I was sitting with Coach Mac right before the season and we were watching ESPN All-Access Kentucky Wildcats. Coach (John) Calipari said, 'If you are coming here to be a star, you are at the wrong program.' And that's what Coach Mac has stressed to me. It's all about the team and it's all about winning here."