On Tuesday night, during the final Hoopsville show of the 2019-20 season, Dave McHugh revealed the D3hoops.com All-America teams and the Coach, Rookie, and Player of the Year. It was a historic night for the Maccabees, as Ryan Turell was chosen as a First Team All-American, Gabriel Leifer made Fourth Team, and Elliot Steinmetz received the Coach of the Year award. Both the All-American and Coach of the Year selections are the first in Yeshiva program history.
Click here to see the official release from D3hoops.com.
Check out the live announcement of each of these awards! (Credit to D3hoops/Hoopsville)
Although one might believe that these major accolades will add pressure for next season, Coach Steinmetz sees otherwise. “I think the pressure of having a target is what we want,” he said. “It means that we are good. That’s not a bad thing.”
Ryan Turell, who has now been recognized as one of the top five players in all of Division III, was happy to receive the honor, but didn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal. “It’s great [to be named First Team All-American] if you’re a senior, so as a sophomore it’s pretty exciting!” Turell remarked. “But at the end of the day, we are chasing letters, not numbers. The only thing I’ve got on my mind for next year is a National Championship.
In typical Leifer fashion, the Macs’ forward didn’t comment about himself when asked for reaction to the news. “Happy for Ryan and Coach,” Gabe humbly stated.
Here are some more fantastic reactions from other YU players and staff members:
Dani Katz: “It shows how much they work and how hard they work, and the success and the drive that they want for not just themselves but the team, and that’s passed along to us. It’s kind of a team award, and it’s the camaraderie and chemistry and the brotherhood that we have with each other which led them to these awards.”
Sammy Mandel: “I’m so happy for them and I couldn’t be more proud. Besides for being teammates, Gabe and Ryan are two of my very close friends. I’ve spent a lot of time with them over the past couple of years, and as a first-hand witness I can’t think of anyone who deserves this more. For players as talented and respected as Gabe and Ryan, something they both share is humility. Achieving such awards can cause people to get arrogant, and I know that instead of letting this get to them they will take this as motivation and keep pushing and working harder!”
Jacob Finkelstein (Team Manager): “I’m so unbelievably proud of Ryan and Gabe. Although I couldn’t take part on the court, I’ve seen the countless hours these guys have put in, and it surely shows in everything that they have managed to accomplish. I’m so honored to be a part of such an amazing group of guys.”
“Waiting on my Manager of the Year award,” he added, jokingly.
Assistant Coach Eli Katz had plenty of insight to share. “What Coach [Steinmetz] has done to this program is astonishing, and he deserves a ton of credit. He has accomplished in just six years what many other coaches around the world dream of when they take over a position. I am so happy for him, and I was going crazy when he received it because he really has done a tremendous job on and off the court for this program. So difficult, so special and well deserved!
I will say also about Gabe and Ryan, they of course deserve the credit they have gotten as well. Both are tremendous talents, and have been everything and more for the team, but I must point out something no one will recognize. Of course I can go on and on about my brother Dani, but Simcha Halpert is a massive reason why Gabe and Ryan are where they are today.
It was not long ago that Simcha was pouring on the points, and we see flashes of that here and there, but he has given up a ton of points and the all-time scoring title to make this team reach its potential. Both Simcha and Dani have shown their leadership by actively being so selfless and giving of themselves for the betterment of the team, and that feeling is felt from player to player. Obviously Gabe and Ryan have opened up the floor for everyone with their incredible talent and abilities, but I want to recognize the two guys who have given their personal accolades away in order to make the team as great as it is.”
Ofek Reef: “I’m proud of every single one of my teammates, it’s great to have these leaders getting accolades. But as Coach always says, these are team achievements. They’ve set a very high bar, but that’s not what we strive for.”
What the Skyline Conference Rookie of the Year added should scare the Macs’ opponents next season. “We’re coming back hungry for some unfinished business,” he said.
Unfinished business, indeed.