On Sunday afternoon, February 25th, the Yeshiva Maccabees will host the Manhattanville Valiants in the Skyline championship. The #20 ranked Macs blew past their competition to get to this point, while the Valiants pulled off a couple of upsets, including taking down the conference’s top team in the semis. The last time these two teams faced off was back in November. The Valiants were able to give the Macs problems at first, taking a six point lead into halftime. Unfortunately for them, Ryan Turell decided to have a record breaking second half, carrying the Macs to a 22 point victory. He ended the game with a Yeshiva University record 51 points. Turell has been hot as of late and will definitely have something to play for, potentially heading into his final home game in the Max Stern Athletic Center. For Manhattanville, it’s going to be all about slowing down Yeshiva’s potent offense. The Valiants are a tough team to gameplan for, as their production can come from anyone on any given night. Their leading scorer, Tommy Lotito, only averages 12.1 points per game, but they have a very balanced scoring attack. The Macs are certainly favored to win this game and take home another Skyline title, but if we have learned anything from the past week of action, the Valiants won’t go down without a fight.
Ryan Turell / Guard / 6’7”
27.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.8 APG
Gabriel Leifer / Forward / 6’6”
10.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 7.0 APG
Eitan Halpert / Guard / 5’11”
12.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG
Tommy Lotito / Guard / 6’1”
12.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.8 APG
Petey Galgano / Guard / 6’0”
9.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.2 APG
Jake Dunn / Guard / 6’1”
9.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG
Keys to the game:
Manhattanville is not going to allow Turell to torch them like he did in their last matchup. This means that guys like Gabe Leifer, Eitan Halpert and Ofek Reef are going to have to step up their games and contribute.
Leifer has been more aggressive as a scorer as of late. Excluding the game against St. Joseph’s — Brooklyn in which he played only eight minutes, he’s averaging 18.3 points per game in the last four games. When you compare that number to his season average of 10.6 points per game, you can see that he has accepted a bigger role in the offense down the stretch of the season and in the playoffs.
Eitan Halpert’s shooting has been one of the keys to the Macs success all season. His ability to stretch the floor and hit open shots, a skill that is often undervalued, allows for guys like Turell and Leifer to work in one-on-one situations with limited help defense. If he gets going, this offense is pretty much unstoppable.
Dominate the Paint
Manhattanville has some size in Jackson Leech and Ryan Giordano who are both 6’ 5”, but they don’t love to play them a whole lot. Each of those bigs only gets around 15 minutes of action a night. Last time these two teams met, the Macs nearly doubled the Valiants on the boards, collecting 39 total rebounds compared to just 20 for the Valiants. Figuring out a way to rebound against the much bigger Macs is going to be a challenge for Manhattanville.
Jordan Armstrong can be a huge factor in a game like this with his ability to protect the rim. In what was arguably the biggest game of the season against then undefeated St. Joseph’s a couple weeks ago, he recorded seven blocks. That kind of defensive production from him makes this team practically unbeatable.
Matan Zucker has stepped into the role as the starting center and has done his job. He fights for offensive boards, draws fouls, and moves bodies around in the painted area. He’s a great source of energy and grit-and-grind attitude for the Macs.
Start out strong
In a big game like today, we sometimes see teams start off tight and under pressure. This leads to slow starts and the Macs cannot afford this in the championship game. The Macs have had a tendency to start games slow and with one game to win it all, the Macs need to make sure this does not happen. If the Macs can start the game strong, it will get the crowd involved early and put all the pressure on the Valiants.
How to Watch:
Tip off at the MSAC is at 1:00 PM. MacsLive will broadcast the game live here.