Updated: Nov 10, 2019
The 2019-20 season gets underway for the Yeshiva University Maccabees on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Last year’s Skyline Conference runner-up will face an immediate test in the Occidental Tigers. The Macs will look to get off to a better start this season; last year, they lost their first four games. Occidental, colloquially called ‘Oxy’, went 22-5 last year, and began their season with 15 consecutive victories. However, their season ended similarly to the Macs, as they fell to conference rival Pomona-Pitzer in the SCIAC Final.
YU returns a very similar starting five to last season, with only Tal Gweta having graduated. The core of the team is still intact, as Ryan Turell, Gabe Leifer, Simcha Halpert, and Dani Katz remain. As a result of the late-breaking news that Bar Alluf has been approved by the NCAA, the 2017-18 Skyline All-Conference First-Team member has made the trip to LA. However, he is not ready to go yet, as he has practiced with the team only two times. Therefore, expect Eitan Halpert to get the nod as the fifth man, and see the most minutes on the floor for the Macs other than the four starters mentioned above. Freshman Ofek Reef and second-year big man Caleb Milobsky should receive heavy playing time as well. To get a more in-depth look at how things could turn out this season for the Macs, check out our season preview. For a quick look at YU’s roster, check out our roster preview.
For Occidental, they will be without their top two players from last year. Both Zach Baines, a 6’5” forward who averaged 20.4 points/game, and Austin DeWitz, who stands at 6’7” and averaged 16.6 points/game, have graduated. This season, the Tigers will count on senior forward Caleb Yellin-Flaherty, who averaged 13.4 points/game last year, to be their main source of offense. Senior Ryan Kaneshiro is the facilitator of this Oxy offense; he averaged 6 assists/game last year. Junior Jacob Adler is an important piece for Oxy; he scored 10.8 points/game last season. The Tigers’ tallest player is only 6’6”, so don’t expect size to be an issue for the Macs in this one.
Keys To The Game
1) Don’t Let Oxy Get Comfortable
With Occidental having graduated their top two players, they will put a somewhat inexperienced team on the floor tonight. If the Tigers can get things going early, the hometown crowd will get behind them, and possibly guide them to a victory. However, the Macs want to keep Oxy on their toes for the entirety of this game. Expect the Macs to use their deep bench as a weapon. With so many players deserving big minutes, Coach Steinmetz is bound to come up with a plan which utilizes his team’s depth and makes the most out of his top players. Therefore, I expect the Macs to press Occidental heavily in this game. In fact, I would not be shocked if YU applied pressure to Oxy for all 40 minutes.
2) No Threes For You!
In Division III hoops, every team has a few players who can shoot the lights out. Oxy, which is one of the top teams in a very tough conference, is no exception. The Macs have so many players who can shoot and make great plays; their offense is not a worry. One of the things that YU focused on last year was improving on the less glamorous side of the ball; ‘defense’ is typically the Macs’ chant when breaking the huddle. The Macs will probably need to force the Tigers off the 3-point line if they want to win this game. If Oxy starts hitting their threes, we could see a high-scoring, close game, which typically favors the home team.
3) Stop Yellin-Flaherty
Simply put, Caleb Yellin-Flaherty is the most dangerous player for the Occidental Tigers. He can both work the ball inside and shoot the three at a high percentage. The Macs will put Ryan Turell—who is 6’7”—on Yellin-Flaherty, with the hopes that the sophomore star can use his length to make Yellin-Flaherty’s shots tougher. Even if he gets past Turell, he will have to work around the Macs’ help-defense. If Turell can prevent Yellin-Flaherty from having a big night, the Macs will be set up well for a huge W.
How To Watch/Follow
Tipoff is at 11:30 PM ET, 8:30 PM PT. While MacsLive will not livestream the game, Occidental College will broadcast it. To watch the game, click here. For those who are interested in following the game without watching, MacsLive will provide an updating scoreboard throughout the evening. The in-game scoreboard will be linked into the men’s basketball scoreboard, located on both the MacsLive homepage and on the Men’s Basketball page. You can also view it here. After the game, MacsLive will provide a game recap, filled with analysis regarding how the Macs performed. Even if you fall asleep, MacsLive’s got you covered.