On Tuesday night, the St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn Bears will make the hour-long trip up north to Washington Heights to take on the Yeshiva University Maccabees. The Macs, who moved up to #21 in the country in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Week 10 poll, will look to extend their winning streak to 21 tonight. This is not the first time that these teams have met this season; in early December, Yeshiva traveled to The Hill Center, and emerged victorious by an 85-51 score. In that game, the Bears shot under 30% from the floor, and leading scorer Steph Etheart made just one of his 12 shots; while the Macs may be favored tonight, I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to win by more than 30 points again.
St. Joseph’s goes with a seven man lineup; the five who get the most playing time are all upperclassmen, and four are seniors. The Bears typically start the Etheart twins—Stephane and Sebastien—as well as Dmitri Sirakis, Frank Reali, and Kavan Meiner. Sirakis and Reali both have the potential to get hot from deep, but have been struggling with the extended three-point line which the NCAA introduced this season. The Ethearts and Meiner are completely different players. Meiner is fundamentally sound, and has about a 12-15 foot range. The twins are athletic, and love to attack the basket; they also keep the defense honest with their abilities to hit mid-range jumpers. Freshman Chris Edwards has shown some promise, while sophomore Chris Mikos has done a great job at using his 6’5” frame inside, and is making over 50% of his shots.
For the Macs, freshman Ofek Reef is questionable for tonight, as he has been dealing with a knee injury. The Plano native will likely be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, expect Eitan Halpert and Tyler Hod—who have both been playing extremely well as of late—to get a bump in minutes.
More Macs Milestones?
Sophomore Ryan Turell has already cemented himself as one of the best to ever put on a Yeshiva uniform. Turell has followed up a historic rookie campaign by averaging an astounding 23.9 points/game this season. In just 45 games, #11 has scored 975 points; no Maccabee has ever reached 1000 in fewer than 48 games. Should he hit the milestone tonight or on Saturday, Turell will also become the second YU player to accomplish the feat at home this year (Gabriel Leifer did it against Merchant Marine in late January) .
The Macs’ focus this year has been winning one game at a time, but with just four contests remaining in the regular season, one of the initial goals coming into it has been forgotten: getting the one seed in the Skyline Conference playoffs. It’s a feat which Yeshiva has never accomplished, and the Macs are in great position to get it this week. The current magic number is 2; if the Macs win tonight, and both Purchase (@ Sarah Lawrence) and Old Westbury (@ Farmingdale State) lose, YU will clinch it. If not, the Macs still control their own destiny, and would get home court advantage throughout the playoffs even if they finish the regular season 2-2.
Keys to the Game:
1) Play Inside Out
The Bears typically play a zone, but went to a man-to-man defense (and 1-2-1-1 press when in desperation mode) the last time these teams faced off
Whether facing a zone or man—and I would expect to see both—the Macs must play inside out, and run the game through the post
Forwards Leifer, Katz, and Milobsky have demonstrated good decision-making when reading the defense’s reaction to their post touches, and have created three-point opportunities for teammates
Playing inside out is one of the reason why Yeshiva was so dominant offensively against Mount Saint Vincent, as the YU players kicked out to the Halpert brothers when the Dolphins pinched in, and when they didn’t help, the Macs used their power and pivot spin moves to get easy buckets
2) Movement & Motion
The Bears are pretty good at guarding the ball, but struggle immensely when there are moving pieces
This comes into play both on ball reversals and when their opponents move without the ball
When the Macs constantly move without the rock, and reverse the ball, their offensive success goes up immensely; when they don’t, they are forced to win on talent alone
YU has done pretty well in this respect recently, but wasn’t great against Sarah Lawrence, Williams, and Mount Saint Mary
3) Get Back in Transition
St. Joseph’s loves to run the floor and push the ball in transition
When they get someone running down the side, they’ll almost always take a three; if not, they try to manufacture early offense
Mount Saint Vincent and Mount Saint Mary both exploited Yeshiva’s tired legs last week by taking advantage of fast break opportunities, and these teams also pushed the ball off of YU makes
If the Macs shoot well from the floor, many of these opportunities will naturally be eliminated
If Yeshiva has a poor shooting night, getting back in transition could be the determining factor in this game
This Skyline Conference matchup is set to begin at 8:00 PM. Yoni Sonnenschein and Sammy Katz will be on the call; our broadcast will begin a few minutes before tip off. If you can’t watch but would like to follow along, click here to access our in-game scoreboard. In addition, be sure to check out MacsLive.com tomorrow morning for our recap and highlights from the game.