After a week-long break from the hardwood, Yeshiva returns to action on Tuesday night, when they will play another division opponent in St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn. This will be the first taste of Skyline Conference play for the Bears, who have looked good so far this year. St. Joseph’s fell to Stockton in their season-opener, but have played strong basketball since then, and are riding a four-game winning streak. These teams faced off twice this year, with the Macs winning both games. Both of those matchups were shootouts; YU won at home by a score of 124-91, and were victorious in Brooklyn, 99-84. Tonight’s game should feature plenty of scoring, but don’t expect the Macs to drop 124 again, or even 99.
Personnel-wise, this St. Joseph’s team is practically the same as last year. The Bears typically start the Etheart twins--Stephane and Sebastien--as well as Dmitri Sirakis, Frank Reali, and Kavan Meiner. According to Coach Steinmetz, Sirakis and Reali are two of the best shooters in the conference; Reali, who shoots almost exclusively threes, is effectively the Bears’ Simcha Halpert. 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. The Bears have five guys who can score; the question for them is whether or not they can get defensive stops on a consistent and timely basis.
Keys to the Game:
1) Play the Point in the Post
St. Joseph’s typically plays a zone defense, and for the most part played a zone against Yeshiva in their two matchups last year. However, the Macs were able to exploit and pick apart the Bears’ defense in both games. The key for the Macs is to feed their forwards—Gabe Leifer, Dani Katz, and Caleb Milobsky—in the post. These players then need to decide, based on the way that the defense reacts to them, what the next course of action should be. If the defense pinches in, then the Macs’ player should kick out, leading to an open three. If not, the Macs’ forward should post up, and use his strength and power to lay it in.
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. We’ve seen it time and time again this season: when the Macs reverse the ball in the halfcourt offense, the team flows; when they shoot off of just one or two passes, they are rarely effective. Quick, sharp passing will create opportunities for the Macs to capitalize off of mistakes.
3) Get Back in Transition
There’s a good reason that these teams combined for 215 points in one game last year. St. Joseph’s loves to run the floor and push the ball. If they can get someone running down the side, they’ll take a three in transition; if not, they try to manufacture quick offense. The Bears’ ultra-fast pace opens up many early scoring opportunities for them. The Macs need to get back in transition. Expect them to switch, and have someone pick up the ball, so that they can slow down the Bears’ attack. If there is not much time remaining on the clock and the Macs have a solid lead, they will probably give up offensive rebounding opportunities to get back on defense quicker. In addition, as Coach Steinmetz said, if the Macs shoot 50%+ from the floor, it takes away a lot of fast-break opportunities. If the Macs do have a poor shooting night, getting back in transition could be the determining factor in this game.
How to Watch/Follow:
This division matchup tips off at 7:00 PM. St. Joseph’s College will be broadcasting the game; click here to watch. If you are unable to watch the game, but want to follow along, click here to access our in-game scoreboard. After the game, make sure to check out MacsLive.com for our recap.