Gameday Preview: #6 Men's Basketball vs Merchant Marine Academy
After a hard fought victory against the Rochester Yellowjackets in which the Yeshiva University Maccabees struggled to score at their usual blistering pace, the sixth ranked Macs will look to return to their high scoring ways against the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Sunday’s heavyweight matchup with Rochester came down to the wire and ultimately it was the clutch shooting of Sammy Merkin which helped secure the victory.
For USMMA, this will be their first game of their season after losing an exhibition game to the Division I Army Black Knights and having several games either postponed or cancelled. The Mariners, who went 10-16 last year, are returning their top three scorers, including Senior Guard James Walsh who averaged 13.4 points per game last season, among several other rotation players. They might also welcome contributions from newcomers such as Jake Hatch, who played alongside potential NBA draft pick Greg Brown at Vandegrift High School.
The Mariners play at a slow tempo and did not have an exceptionally high powered offense last season as they averaged just 64.7 points per game, but were able to stay in many games by using a matchup zone defense to hold opponents to a mere 67.8 points per game. In their two meetings last year against the Mariners, the Macs were held below their season average of 86.7 points per game both times they met. For Head Coach Rob Pryor and the Mariners, the game plan will likely be more of the same: Slow the game down and play tough defense to keep it close.
The Macs hold the series lead with a 6-1 all time record against the Mariners, winning each of the last six meetings. The most recent matchup came in the Skyline Conference quarterfinals a season ago, when the Macs won 75-57 en route to a fantastic postseason run.
Here are the keys to the Game:
Battling by Committee:
After Rochester big man Ryan Algier gave the Macs a difficult time with his size on Sunday, the Macs will face several other challenges in bigs like Blaine Mcdonough and Harlow Babb who will try to exploit their size advantage on both sides of the court. The Mariners have several other bigs who could cause problems for the Macs if they don’t box out well. Without a true center in the rotation, the Macs will have to rebound and defend by committee. It will be important for other players to come over and help on defense as well as crash the boards to help Yeshiva’s big men in the rebounding battle.
Pace of Play
A low scoring and defensive team, the Mariners must dictate the tempo in order to stick with Yeshiva’s offense. They will likely try to slow the game down by milking the clock and using most of the shot clock each possession as well as setting their defense to slow down the Macs at the other end. The Macs can not let the Mariners dictate the pace of play and need to continue to try and play their style of basketball. In a game where possessions may be limited, the Macs must get back to the basics offensively by setting better screens and moving off-ball more effectively in order to create open looks on the offensive end.
Defense to Offense
The Macs have forced double digit turnovers in each of their first three games and doing so again will allow them to get out in transition and run. Forcing turnovers should allow them to get quick and easy points without allowing the Mariners to set up their defense and will keep the game at a tempo that the Macs are more comfortable playing at.
Coverage for tonight's game begins at 7:50 pm. The Watch Live link will be available one hour prior to the game. Catch all the action right here on Macslive.com