The excitement has been racheting up for Yeshiva University Mens Basketball, echoing off the hardwood in Washington Heights and resonating throughout the Jewish and sports world. The Maccabees have been one of the biggest stories in college basketball this season, posting a 25 - 3 record and, at one point, kept a record 50 game winning streak alive.
Along the way the Macs have attracted their share of national attention, including features in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, ESPN and countless tweets by national journalists and NBA players. Within the Jewish world, the team has been a source of immense pride. The kippa-clad players line up each game and stand before the Israeli and American flags for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner and Hatikvah.
The Macs last regular season game had the conference championship and an invite to the post-season tournament on the line. Tickets for both the Skyline Tournament semi and final sold out within 60 seconds. Attendees included New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; former NBA star and Jewish convert Amar’e Stoudemire; Bucks owner Marc Lasry; and a host of Rabbinic luminaries and all the heads of Yeshivah University.
With a 44-point victory against Skyline rival Manhattanville College, the Macs cut the net and punched their ticket to the NCAA D3 tournament.
The impossible dream now continues at host Stockton University on Friday, March 4, at 1:00pm against 10th-ranked Johns Hopkins. Yeshivah U makes arrangements for kosher meals and space to accommodate their Sabbath Services following the game. If they win, they'll play again Saturday night (9:00, after Shabbos) against the winner of Stockton vs Wilson College (PA).
The Macs' Ryan Turell, a 6'7' guard from Los Angeles, was selected as the D3 Player of the Year for the second time in a row. Ryan, who declined multiple offers to play at D1 schools, averaged 28 points a game this season. His goal is to be the first Orthodox Jew to play in the NBA. The MACS also have 5th year Senior Gabe Leifer, a recently married Master’s Student and full-time employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He along with Ryan is also a first-team Skyline Conference star.
A quick look at the their roster that includes transfers from Oberlin, Brandeis and Division 1 Manhattan College.
But, really, you've got to see the Maccabees to Maccabelieve...