On February 24, 2019, the Yeshiva University Maccabees took a trip to Farmingdale, New York. The Macs hoped to exit with a Skyline Conference Championship and a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but instead left in disappointment, their season over.
Tonight, the Macs head back to the Nold Athletic Complex for a rematch against the reigning Skyline Champions. The Rams are not off to a great start this season, having lost four of their first seven games, although they have faced tough competition. This will be Farmingdale State’s first taste of conference play, and tonight’s game provides the Rams an opportunity to prove that they are still the team to beat in the Skyline. If they would like to get off on the right foot, Farmingdale State will have to defeat the Macs for a third consecutive time. Yeshiva carries a seven-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup.
This Rams’ team is extremely different on paper this year, but their style of play remains the same. First of all, their top three scorers from last season—sharpshooter Matthew Graham, slasher Ali Mableton, and the 6’8” George Riefenstahl—all graduated. To combat these losses, the Rams brought in 6’4” guard Hunter Schenkel, a transfer from The College of New Rochelle. So far this season, Schenkel has provided a similar stat line to Graham’s last year, as he has shot 41.7% from 3, and is averaging 17 points/game. Other players who have nabbed starting roles this year for the Rams include Anthony Miller Jr., Jermaine Fraser, Troy Feeney, and De’Shawn Todman. Ryan Kennedy and Chaz Platt provide three-point shooting off the bench.
Even without Riefenstahl on the court—he, along with Mableton, are assistant coaches now—the Rams run the same offense. They still try to work the ball into the paint, and have options available outside should the opportunity for an open 3 arise. Farmingdale State still has size, which helps them both when taking the rock inside and on the offensive boards. One issue which they have encountered so far this season is turnovers; as a team, they are averaging a preposterous total of 20 per game.
On the Yeshiva side of things, Ryan Turell will not be available to play tonight. Turell suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over Old Westbury. He is expected to return two games from now, on the 15th of December, but if he is 100% he will play on Sunday against St. Joseph’s College-Long Island.
Keys to the Game:
1) Find the Best Shot
Ball movement and good screening has been the key to the YU offense this season. Throughout the year, whenever the Macs get away from ball reversal and instead take a quick shot, they have stalled on offense. However, when passing the ball around the court, wearing down the defense, and finding an open shot or mismatch, the Macs have had extreme success. Every player on the court for Yeshiva can score; all they need to do is find the best shot, and not force anything. Whether it is by working the post, cutting to the basket, or slipping free for an open three, the Macs can create excellent scoring opportunities.
2) Take Advantage of Mistakes
Cutting down on turnovers has been an area of emphasis for the Macs this year. However, this season, Farmingdale State’s greatest weakness has been turnovers, to the point that it is a much greater concern for the Rams than for Yeshiva. This can partially be attributed to the fact that the Rams have not gelled yet, as not one of their starters averaged even 20 minutes/game last year. Many of these turnovers have come in the halfcourt, resulting from sloppy passing and silly errors. YU should anticipate mistakes, and be ready to jump on the numerous opportunities which will likely be presented to them tonight.
3) Box Out
Over the course of the year, the Macs have gradually gotten better at boxing out, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. While the Rams no longer have Riefenstahl, they still pull down 13.9 offensive rebounds/game; the Macs, for comparison, only average 8.6. Fraser, Todman, and Feeney are the biggest threats, but all of the Rams players are either big enough or quick enough to make an impact on the boards. The YU players need to find a body to box out; a few extra second-chance opportunities could be the difference in this game.
How to Watch/Follow:
This critical division matchup is set to start at 7 PM. Farmingdale State will be broadcasting the game; click here to watch their feed. If you are unable to watch the game, but would like to follow along, click here to access our in-game scoreboard. After the game, be sure to check out MacsLive.com for our recap.