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Gameday Preview: Skyline Conference Semifinals: Yeshiva vs Manhattanville

"You couldn't live with your own failure. Where did that bring you? Back to me.” Thanos' words from Avengers Endgame (2019) echo through time, resonating as if they were spoken just yesterday. And 364 days later, we are here again in the snap of a finger.

For the Yeshiva University Maccabees, the path to the Skyline Conference final yet again runs through the Manhattanville Valiants. This showdown marks the third consecutive postseason with a meeting between these two programs, a skeptical outcome after the Macs' preseason divisional shuffle. Last year, the Valiants seized victory, avenging their 2022 finals defeat by feasting on the inexperienced Macs with a 71-57 triumph in front of their fervent Kennedy Gymnasium crowd.

Now, the sneaker’s on the other foot. Yeshiva is the second seed, while the Valiants hold the third spot. As Manhattanville ventures to Macsville, a frenzied crowd is still buzzing from Tuesday's 84-76 quarterfinal victory over the Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins. Expectations are high with fans poised to elevate their throats, fueled by the unity felt throughout the campus halls, streets, and cafes all of Wednesday. 

Awaiting the Valiants on the court is a Maccabees squad at full strength. Max Zakheim, Or Sundjyvsky and Yoav Oselka will be suiting up this time. It’s a luxury Yeshiva didn't have during their last clash at the Max Stern Athletic Center on January 30, where they dominated Manhattanville with a commanding 72-59 win. Their suffocating defense stifled the visitors' dribble-drive offense, contesting shots and forcing turnovers.

However, the Macs know they can't afford to be complacent. Sloppy ball security allowed Mount Saint Vincent to linger. It’s a mistake unrepeatable against a more profound and potent Manhattanville team. It’s not just defense that wins championships; it's also the ability to take care of the basketball and seize every opportunity. 

Max Zakheim and the Macs look to exact revenge against the Manhttanville Valiants in the Skyline Conference semifinals on Thursday night.(Photo Credit: Akiva Poppers/MacsLive)

Cracking Defensive Codes:

So, you're wondering how Manhattanville prefers to play defense? Well, it's right there in their name – they're all about man-to-man play.

Yet when the Macs squared off earlier this season at their turf on December 6th, they threw a curveball and played a zone, which worked to the tune of a tight 67-64 victory. However, when they came to the heights, it was back to man-to-man, and Yeshiva feasted. What they'll bring to the court this time is anyone’s guess. The Macs better be ready for anything.

Against the man defense, screens will be their best friend, creating openings and causing confusion. Should the Valiants show zone, the Macs will need crisp ball movement, patience, and to find those open shots through the motion offense to dismantle their opponent’s defense and achieve success.

Defensive Rotations:

Manhattanville loves to drive and kick, so defensive rotations must be on point. Yeshiva

previously endured some struggles this season, letting opponents waltz through their wall and get easy buckets. It happened a few times on Tuesday, too. A key to emerging victorious will be tightening those rotations, forcing permitter play, and locking down the paint.

Winning the Rebounding Manhunt:

The Macs dominated the glass in their earlier victory over the Valiants, hauling 47 rebounds, including 12 offensive ones. They also did a stellar job stopping penetration and contesting  Manhattanville’s three-point shooters, holding them to just 4-19 from deep. Yeshiva needs that same tenacity this time around to control the boards and stifle their downtown shooting threats.

A Rocking Macsville:

As these players will be asked to elevate their play, you fans are asked to raise the noise. If you want the Macs to send Manhattanville packing, the volume has to hit eleven.  Yeshiva will need every fan on their feet, every voice raised in unison, and every clap and mashpit echoing through the Max Stern Athletic Center. It’s imperative Tuesday feels like a whisper compared to the energy brought in this one.

The gym needs to feel like a wall of sound that rattles the Valiants to their core. They may have their dribble-drive offense, but the Macs will have something they dearly missed in last year’s semifinal: the drive of their fanbase. 

How To Watch:

Tip-off is slated for 8:00PM, you can watch the game on MacsLive here.


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1 Comment

Sam Feder
Sam Feder
Feb 22

Turnovers turnovers turnovers. Avoid easy layups by opponent.

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