Men’s Basketball: 2021-22 Season Preview
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
The Macs have been dominant the last few seasons, but have been robbed of the opportunity to win a title due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Yeshiva has a chance to solidify itself as one of the most dominant college basketball teams ever. YU is currently riding a 36-game winning streak, tied for the second-longest streak in Division III history. The Macs enter the season #2 in the D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25, the highest ranking in program history. When asked about what the expectations were for the Macs this season, star forward Ryan Turell needed just two words: “National Championship.”
2020-2021 Season Recap
The 2020-2021 season was a brief one for the Macs. The Macs played just 7 games, winning all of them, to continue their dominant winning streak. The Macs were victorious in a tough non-conference matchup against Rochester, and a home-and-home against St. Joseph (CT). The Macs finished the 2020-2021 season ranked #3 nationally, behind Randolph-Macon and St. Thomas (MN).
The Macs graduate just one player from last year’s team, grad transfer Sammy Merkin. Merkin came up big for the Macs in a critical moment last year against Rochester, when he hit two key three-pointers in the final minutes of a 70-63 road win. The Macs will miss Merkin’s shooting and leadership.
It will certainly be a breath of fresh air for Macs fans when they see this year’s full, 25-game regular season schedule. The Macs open the season with two games at the Dutch Burch Tip-Off, against Lycoming College on November 6, and vs. Penn State-Schuylkill on November 7. YU’s home opener will be on November 10 against Eastern CT State University. The Macs will begin Skyline Conference play on November 14 on the road against St. Joseph's College of Long Island, and will play their home conference opener two days later against the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Yeshiva has a tough stretch of six non-conference games during the month of December and beginning of January. Highlighting this group of games is the highly-anticipated matchup against Illinois Wesleyan University on December 30 at the Max Stern Athletic Center; Illinois Wesleyan is ranked #4 in the D3 Preseason Top 25. The slate of non-conference games ends with a battle against Williams College on January 2. The Macs will conclude their regular season at home against St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn on February 19. The Skyline Conference tournament will begin on February 22, with the Semifinals and Finals taking place on the 24th and 27th, respectively.
The Macs return all of their starters from the 2020-2021 season, highlighted by the return of Gabriel Leifer, who is using his extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Macs also gained a few new players this season. Jordan Armstrong and Ethan Lasko join the Macs as graduate transfers. The 6’7” Armstrong played three seasons at Oberlin College in Ohio. Lasko played four seasons in Division I; one at Indiana University, and the last three at Manhattan College. “It’s been awesome joining this team, meshing with the guys has been really easy,” Lasko told MacsLive. “I think once we start playing more and really start learning each other's games and how we all play, we’re going to be scary.” The Macs also welcome new players Aryeh Halpert and Nimrod Altit. Altit played high school basketball with Ryan Turell at Valley Torah, and competed at Division II Southeastern Oklahoma State University before transferring to YU. Aryeh Halpert joins the Macs as a senior in YU. Halpert is the grandson of Coach Jonathan Halpert, the all-time winningest coach in YU history. Halpert will bring strong perimeter shooting and intense defense to this team. For more information on this year’s roster, check out our extensive roster preview.
What To Look Out For
The transfers: Ethan Lasko and Jordan Armstrong will help make this Macs team more dangerous than ever. Lasko provides the Macs with incredible shooting and tough defense from the guard position. His experience playing against high-level competition will certainly help the Macs as they look to compete for a National championship. Armstrong provides the Macs with another strong interior presence to compliment the likes of Gabe Leifer and Matan Zucker. During his time at Oberlin College, Armstrong averaged more than a block per game. With Leifer, Zucker, and Armstrong, the Macs’ frontcourt defense will give opposing offenses a tough time.
Target on their backs: YU will enter this season ranked as the #2 team in the country. Combine that with the fact that the Macs are currently on a 36-game winning streak, and you find a team with a huge target on its back. In every game Yeshiva plays this season, the Macs will be getting their opponent’s best effort. Teams are going to circle the date when they play the Macs as their chance to shock the world and end the streak. The Macs will need to bring their A-game throughout the year, even against lower quality opponents.
The Macs’ defense: We all know how incredible the Macs’ motion offense is, but their defense is somewhat underappreciated. Last year the Macs had some off shooting nights, but their defense rose to the occasion to win those games. The Macs allowed 67.6 points/game last season, and held opponents to under 65 points/game in three of their seven matchups. If the Macs want to win a National Championship, they will need to demonstrate strong defensive efforts this season.