The #22 Yeshiva University Maccabees will return to the Max Stern Athletic Center on Saturday night, when they face the Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins in a Skyline Conference matchup. YU is currently on a 19-game winning streak, and should the Macs win tonight, they will set a program record with their 20th win of the season. While CMSV enters this game with a 4-7 conference record, four of those losses were by five or fewer points, against teams currently in the top half of the Skyline standings. That said, the Macs easily dispatched of the Dolphins in November, when the two teams played in Riverdale.
In their last ten games, six different players have been averaging more than 24 minutes for the Dolphins. Mount Saint Vincent’s offense runs through senior Raiquis Harris, who dropped 31 points on the Macs when these teams last faced off. The quick guard is shooting 48.1% from the floor this season, and, in addition to leading the Dolphins in scoring, is #1 for them in assists and steals. While Makai Johnson may have struggled against Yeshiva in November, he has a propensity to get hot, and is shooting better from behind the arc than from the floor this season. Qwame Thompson has seen an uptick in usage recently, due to his outstanding ability to drive to the hole. The last guard who gets huge minutes for the Dolphins is Kalos Evans, who has struggled as of late; the 6’1” Bronx native is best at finishing around the rim.
The Dolphins mainly rely on two 6’4”, 200+ pound big men to provide size to an otherwise extremely small lineup. Mamadou Mariko is a fantastic athlete, and he leads Mount Saint Vincent in rebounding. Despite limited range, he is hitting half of his two-point attempts this season. Vinny Tavella, who made a major impact on the YU-CMSV game held in November, can do damage both in the paint and from downtown. Tavella is taking roughly half of his shots from deep, and has hit at a percentage significantly above the Dolphins’ team average.
Mount Saint Vincent likes to get out on the fast break and create early offense. If they don’t get a good look on the break, the Dolphins settle into their dribble drive offense, and play similarly to Manhattanville, who the Macs faced last Saturday night. The Dolphins have used both a man-to-man and zone defense this year, and you should expect to see some of both tonight, as many teams have changed up their looks mid-game in an effort to confuse the Yeshiva players.
Keys to the Game:
1) Stop middle drive
The entire CMSV offense relies on driving middle, and either getting to the basket for a layup or kicking out for an open three-pointer
The Macs need to wall off the middle, prevent penetration, and force the Dolphins players towards the sideline or baseline
If the YU guards get beat on one dribble towards the middle, the Dolphins will get easy layups all night
If Yeshiva can prevent this, the Dolphins will be forced to drive into help, which will prevent open looks and possibly create turnovers
2) Get back on defense
The Dolphins like to play fast, and are excellent at running the floor in transition
The Macs are solid in their half court, man-to-man defense, so the Dolphins will try to capitalize on any fast break opportunities which present themselves
Against Mount Saint Mary, YU struggled to get back on defense, primarily because it was their fifth game in nine days
Therefore, the Macs must keep fresh legs on the floor at all times, so the Dolphins are forced to run their dribble drive offense and not simply get an open look early in the shot clock
3) Avoid unforced errors
The Macs committed 24 turnovers against Mount Saint Mary, easily a season high
Nearly all of these were unforced, and came in the form of terrible passes or travels
The Macs have been improving recently in this category, and their tiredness contributed to their lackluster performance on Wednesday, but it was still inexcusable
One of the few team statistics where the Dolphins outperform their opponents is in steals and turnovers, and if the Macs expect to win this game, they cannot commit such a ridiculous number of unforced errors tonight
The crowd should be loud tonight, as it is Alumni Night at the MAX. Our broadcast will begin a few minutes prior to tip off, which will be at 8:30. If you can’t watch, be sure to follow by heading to our in-game scoreboard. A few hours after the game, check out MacsLive.com for our recap; tomorrow morning, we will post highlights. Let’s Go Macs!