Tip-off between Toledo and Central Michigan is set for 7 p.m.
"This was going to be the game of all games," Chana Buckley, their mother, said. "Just to see them out there, battling. I’m sure there would have been some run-ins. It would have been an extremely great game."
Chana, echoing the sadness felt by the rest of the family — and anyone who enjoys a good story — added "It’s a huge disappointment."
What does not classify as disappointing is the unrelenting bond her sons continued from their formative years to now as student athletes in the Mid-American Conference. Separated by two years — almost to the exact day — the brothers communicate daily. The convenience and brevity of a text message often takes backseat to a phone call, with the conversation encompassing everything from basketball to the anxiousness both encountered in transferring to DeAndray’s knee injury.
DeAndray, who is at his third college in three years, has been on the mend since he re-aggravated his surgically-repaired knee in November. In his only appearance with the Chippewas, DeAndray scored seven points in an exhibition win over Lake Superior State. The recovery process has been slow, he admits, though he hopes to return in time for a rematch against Toledo on Feb. 16 in Mount Pleasant, Mich. His brother and his mother are less optimistic and expect DeAndray to sit out the season and redshirt.
"That’s my best friend," said Dominique, a senior who has started all 48 games of his career at Toledo.
"He’s my everything," DeAndray said of his high school teammate of two years at Romulus High in Michigan.
The brothers grew up like most others, engaging in brawls "every single day," according to Dominique. Their one-on-one driveway battles were, as their mother put it, "crazy." Over the recent Christmas break the boys shot baskets at their old high school gymnasium, and DeAndray admitted to talking "a lot of junk" to his brother.
Their father, Sterling, instituted a house rule when the boys were younger that brought context to their scuffles. Brothers that fight with each other must be willing to fight for each other, he said. In other words, if you mess with one Buckley, you mess with two Buckleys.
"We would fight each other and then an hour later if someone said something to either one of us we’d get into it with them," Dominique said.
Fans at Savage Arena will be cheated, but none more so than Chana and Sterling Buckley. They had tossed around the idea of one wearing a Toledo T-shirt and the other a Central Michigan T-shirt. At halftime both might have changed wardrobes to represent the other team. Instead they’ll pull for the Rockets.
"We’re going to go with Toledo," Chana said. "That’s the only safe way to go."
REEDY, FLUELLEN STAYING: Wide receiver Bernard Reedy and running back David Fluellen will return for their senior seasons at Toledo, said Rockets coach Matt Campbell.
The first team Mid-American Conference performers revealed last month they were considering turning pro. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Tuesday.
Fluellen enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, totaling 1,498 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught 32 passes for 246 yards.
Reedy led the team with 88 receptions for 1,113 yards and six touchdowns. He added four scores in the return game.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.