It’s Championship Sunday at the Max Stern Athletic Center, as Purchase College is in town to take on #15 Yeshiva University. This is a rematch of the 2018 Skyline Final, in which the Macs defeated the Panthers in Purchase. The winner of this game will secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which is set to begin on Friday, March 6th.
Yeshiva played Purchase once this season, winning 86-73 at home just one month ago. Don’t let the final score deceive you; the Macs put on a clinic in the second half, and were up by 27 with under five minutes to go. That said, this game is sure to be much tighter, particularly due to the championship environment. Anyone who believes otherwise should look at Thursday night’s semifinal matchup against Farmingdale State, a team which the Macs defeated 98-71 in the regular season, but were down against with 100 seconds remaining when it mattered most.
Purchase is an extremely athletic team, and while they don’t have many shooters, the Panthers’ ability to penetrate the paint and drive to the hoop more than makes up for it. Most of the time, they play with four guards and one center. Undoubtedly, their leader is Elijah Lott. The senior captain is averaging 19.6 points/game; he also leads Purchase is rebounds, steals, and assists. However, as of late, Lott has not always been the main man for the Panthers, as two 6’5” guards have had massive impacts on this team. Jorge Perdomo, the one Purchase starter who prefers to shoot the ball from long range, is hitting 36.9% of his threes this season, and put up 19 points/game in the month of February. Meanwhile, slasher Maxx Miller actually leads the Panthers in scoring average against conference opponents, at over 18 per contest.
Other important players for the Panthers include PG Elijah Harris, 6’7” Andre Peguero, and freshman Jorden Means. Harris contributes 10.2 points/game, almost all of which are a result of his driving to the rim. While taking fewer than five shots a game, Purchase uses Peguero for just about everything else. On the defensive end, he is a huge body who may have an effect on YU’s efficiency in the paint; on offense, he loves to set ball screens, and is a force on the boards. Means is the Panthers’ sixth man, and is a stand still shooter who is excellent from the charity stripe.
In the half court, Purchase loves to ball screen and penetrate the paint; they typically either go bucket or kick off of drives. However, the Panthers are most comfortable in transition, where they will often go coast-to-coast or drop the ball off for a trailing trey. Their athleticism also makes them a threat on the glass, where they average 12 offensive rebounds. Defensively, Purchase usually plays man-to-man, but is not afraid to switch it up to a zone.
Keys to the Game:
1) Stop middle drive
With three talented players on the court who love to penetrate the paint, it is essential that the Macs stop middle drive
The YU guards will be tasked with defending players who are more athletic and quicker than them, and although this is a daunting task, they must at least avoid getting beat on one dribble
The Macs will probably key in on various flaws in Purchase’s game, and try to force the Panthers players into uncomfortable situations
YU’s help automatically comes into play when their opponent drives baseline, and if the Macs can force Purchase players away from the middle, their task defensively will become much easier
2) Get back on defense
Purchase is exceptional in the full court, and they love to get out on the fast break
Even off of made baskets, the Macs need to make sure not to celebrate; the Panthers capitalized on YU’s three-point celebrations a few times in late January
Especially on misses, it is important that the Macs get back on defense
Last time these teams played, Perdomo hurt the Macs on the break, especially from behind the arc; YU needs to identify him, and make sure that he doesn’t get any trailing threes
Don’t be surprised if you see the Macs ‘jam’ the rebounder frequently, in an effort to eliminate an immediate outlet pass
3) Force the Panthers to get involved defensively
The Panthers have some fantastic players, but there is no doubt that they are much stronger when the ball is in their team’s possession
The Macs should attack them in an effort to both wear them out and exploit their defensive weaknesses
Even if this does not result in the Panthers getting into foul trouble, Yeshiva’s motion offense could potentially confuse them and help a YU player get open
The main reason why the Macs struggled offensively against Farmingdale State is because they didn’t set off-ball screens, and tried to go straight for mismatches
Sending the Panthers players through these screens will make the Macs’ offense work like a well-oiled machine
This game is for all of the marbles. Tip off is scheduled for 1:00 PM, and Vice Presidents Yehoshua Segal and Jacob Dauer will be on the call. Stay tuned for a Championship-special pregame show, scheduled to start at approximately 12:40; click here to watch our broadcast. If you can’t tune in, be sure to check back at 12 for a link to our in-game scoreboard. Regardless of the result, don’t leave after the final buzzer sounds, as we will have full postgame coverage.
Let’s Go Macs!