Well, one day of Sarachek action is in the books, and I thought a brief summary of the highlights was in order. There were three upsets according to the initial seeding, so it was certainly an exciting day.
Video Is Awesome
We had some technical difficulties at first, but being able to actually watch all the action rather than merely listen is such a huge step forward. While I obviously miss being a part of the action by announcing the games myself, I was at least able to feel like I was in the loop with what was going on in the MSAC. Shameless plug alert: If you can't watch the video for some reason, I live-tweeted most of Thursday's games, and will hopefully do so again on Sunday and Monday. If you'd like to follow, my Twitter tag is @aroth26. I hope you enjoy these new services, because they are very difficult to put together for you!
Team Of The Day
With the top four seeds on a bye, this shouldn't come as any surprise, but I'm gonna give this one to the host MTA Lions. Coming into the tournament, our friends North of the border were quite insistent that their Or Chaim Knights were a good match for the Lions, and might even come away with the upset behind their star duo of big man Josh Teller and point guard Yehuda Eklove. To put it lightly, that's not quite how this one went. MTA's size and balance was just too much for the Knights, who had only two players score more than two points! MTA on the other hand had six players with at least five points in a 29-point laugher. The Lions simply put together the whole package of defense, ball movement, and rebounding in dominating Or Chaim
Five Players Who Impressed (in no particular order):
1. Isaac Mirwis(PG-Houston: Jews aren't normally the tallest of people. Coming in, rumor had it that Houston had an unstoppable inside-outside combo in Mirwis and 6'6" big man Zach Yoshor, but Cooper forced Yoshor to the outside where his effect on the game was minimized. Mirwis more than picked up for his teammate as he was able to penetrate at will, and when the defense converged, he made amazing pass after amazing pass to wide open teammates.
2. Eram Zaghi (PG-Weinbaum): Zaghi has a very similar game to Mirwis, but is more of a finisher. He had his fair share of sweet passes as well, but it seemed like every time I looked up, Zaghi was getting inside the defense for a layup or finding the open spot and nailing a jumper.
3. Zev Senter (C-MTA): I'll admit it: as a big man, I appreciate a skilled center more than anything else on the basketball court. Last year, Senter was just a big body, but with the departure of Yisrael Feld due to graduation, Senter really stepped forward this year. He seemed collect every rebound anywhere close to him, hit every layup, and even added a soft touch from the free throw line. I'd love to see him go up against another elite big man to see what he can do.
4. Joseph Ammar (SG-Hillel Miami): Last year, Miami had a great trio of players in Ammar, big man Mark Brenner, and point guard Kevin Salinas. Ammar's two co-stars graduated last year, and I was skeptical coming in that he could handle the load himself, especially when I saw their #18 ranking. Ammar more than convinced me. He was quite simply a force shooting from the outside, and making great cuts when his defender came out too high.
5. Jordan Prescott (PG-Yavneh): My colleague Moshe Kook informed me when he was preparing to do play-by-play for the Yavneh-JEC game that Prescott was approaching 2,000 career points. To put that in perspective, Yisrael Feld, who I thought was the best scorer I had seen in my time at Sarachek, only passed 1,500 late in his senior season. Prescott lived up to the hype. He would have had an even better game if his three point shot was dropping, but the Dallas point guard only missed 2 shots inside the arc en route to 22 points on 10-21 shooting.
What To Watch For Tomorrow?
Again, these picks aren't going to be anything you couldn't have figure out yourself, but the two games to watch for are #4 - #5 and #12 - #13.
#4 North Shore - #5 MTA:
Or Chaim obviously wasn't up to the challenge presented by MTA yesterday, but from what I've heard, MTA has a reputation for being remarkably consistent in beating the teams they should, playing close games against evenly-matched opponents, and losing to the elite teams. If that's true, we can expect a tight game between these two Yeshiva League foes. North Shore plays at a torrid pace, while MTA prefers to move the ball patiently to find the open man. The team that can control the tempo will probably win this one. Personally, I like MTA to win behind my boy Zev Senter.
#12 Or Chaim - #13 TABC
Or Chaim will look to rebound from yesterday's disastrous showing by beating a different Yeshiva League squad from across the river in Teaneck. Yehuda Eklove will have to improve on his 3 points yesterday if the Knights are to come away with the win. It will also be interesting to see if Avi Lerer and Leor Rapps can control Josh Teller downlow for TABC. If they can, TABC may surprisingly find themselves in Tier II after a difficult year. I think Or Chaim rebounds, and wins by double digits.
Looking forward to Big Sunday and Championship Monday, Good Shabbos everybody!