On Thursday night, the #15 Yeshiva University Maccabees and Farmingdale State College Rams will write a new chapter in what has become a budding rivalry. Two programs which have ruled the Skyline Conference in recent times will fight for a spot in the championship, a game which one of these teams has won in each of the last three years. After the Macs defeated Farmingdale State in the semifinals two years ago, the Rams got their revenge last season, beating YU in the Skyline Championship game at the Nold Athletic Complex. Fortunately for Yeshiva, they will be the team hosting this time around, and a sellout crowd is projected to be on hand.
This Rams’ team is extremely different on paper from the one which won the Skyline Conference Championship one season ago, but their style of play remains the same. First of all, their top three scorers from that team—sharpshooter Matthew Graham, slasher Ali Mableton, and the 6’9” George Riefenstahl—all graduated. To combat these losses, the Rams brought in Hunter Schenkel, a transfer from The College of New Rochelle. In 24 games this season, Schenkel provided a similar stat line to Graham’s last year, as he shot 41.6% from 3, and averaged 15.7 points. The deadly duo of Schenkel and Ryan Kennedy, who is hitting 43.5% of his treys this season, directly propelled the Rams to many wins.
However, Schenkel will not play tonight. In Tuesday’s quarterfinal matchup against Old Westbury, the 6’4” forward was fouled by Pierrce Perry. Schenkel proceeded to punch Perry, resulting in a Flagrant 2 and automatic disqualification. He has been suspended for one game as a result, leaving the Rams without one of their better shooters.
The only Farmingdale State player besides for Kennedy who has held onto his starting spot from last season is Jermaine Fraser. The 6’5” bruiser has been a force in the post for the Rams, but his greatest impact is on the glass. Fraser is grabbing 8.7 total rebounds/game, 2.7 of which are offensive; both are team highs.
Others who have nabbed starting roles this year for the Rams include 6’6” forward De’Shawn Todman, who plays very similarly to Fraser, and freshman guard Corey Powell. Anthony Miller has been taking on a sixth-man sort of role as of late, but I would expect him to start due to Schenkel’s unavailability. The 5’7” senior caught fire from deep against Old Westbury, and drew numerous fouls en route to scoring a team-high 19 points. Chaz Platt, who loves to jack up threes from the corner, provides shooting off the bench. While his minutes per game have varied, 6’8” 235 pound Dominique Senat can give teams trouble inside, and he crashes the glass with the best of them. Lastly, 6’6” Tre Riggins could have a major impact tonight; he tallied a season-high 18 minutes against the Macs two weeks ago, and shot 5-7 from the floor while dominating down low.
Even without Riefenstahl on the court—he, along with Mableton, are assistant coaches now—the Rams run the same offense. They set ball screens, and run some pick and roll. Their main goals are to create mismatches and free up shooters. Farmingdale State still has plenty of size, which helps them both when taking the rock inside and on the offensive boards. Arguably, the Rams’ biggest weakness is that their ball handlers are extremely prone to mistakes; as a team, they are committing 18.2 turnovers/game.
Keys to the Game:
1) Don’t give Kennedy and Miller space from deep
Make no doubt about it, both Kennedy and Miller can shoot the lights out, and Kennedy in particular is not afraid to pull from well beyond the arc
Farmingdale State’s game relies on getting their shooters in open space; almost 40% of their field goal attempts come from deep
When these teams faced off fewer than two weeks ago, the Macs guarded Kennedy with Ryan Turell; RT held him to just 1-7 shooting from the floor, and 0-2 from three
The Macs cannot allow either one of the Rams’ primary shooters to take uncontested treys; YU should focus on taking away the three-point line, and force the Rams to beat them with twos
2) Limit the Rams’ transition game
Farmingdale State loves to get out on the fast break, and can be lethal in the full court
With Schenkel likely being replaced by a guard, the Rams will have more speed on the floor
I would expect YU to do whatever they can to limit early offense, be it by surrendering rebounding opportunities, jamming the boards, or some other method
If the Macs can keep Farmingdale State’s shooters from getting hot and their transition game to a minimum, the Rams will almost certainly struggle to get into a groove
3) Control the glass
While the Rams no longer have Riefenstahl, they still pull down 13 offensive rebounds/game; the Macs, for comparison, only average 8.2
Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Macs had conceded 62 rebounds in their previous 5 games, including 17 to Farmingdale State
Against USMMA, Yeshiva showed tremendous signs of improvement, as Leifer, Katz and even some guards boxed out, and held the Mariners to just three offensive rebounds
Fraser, Todman, and Senat are the biggest threats tonight, but all of the Rams players are either big enough or quick enough to make an impact on the glass
The Rams are excellent at capitalizing on second-chance opportunities, and a few mistakes could hurt the Macs in a game-changing way
This Skyline Conference Semifinals matchup will tip off at 8 PM, and President David Schwartzman and Zach Tuchman will be on the call. Click here to watch our broadcast; check back half an hour before tip off to access our updating, in-game scoreboard. After the game, be sure to head to MacsLive.com for our recap and highlights. Let’s Go Macs!