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Yeshiva U’s basketball team continues its winning streak. Time for fans to step up.

By Ami Eden

(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Hey, Yeshiva University fans, your high-flying basketball team needs you to step up!

Fans showed up Tuesday night at the Max Stern Athletic Center in Washington Heights expecting a 41st straight win from the Yeshiva University Maccabees and plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the team’s high-voltage motion offense. They got what they came for — it just took a little while. The team struggled out of the gate against College of Mount Saint Vincent, with sloppy passing, missed shots and defensive lapses. Nothing was falling for the dynamic duo of Ryan Turell and Gabriel Leifer.

Luckily for the Macs — and their #2 ranking and the longest current winning streak in men’s college basketball — Eitan Halpert was on fire from 3-point range. Even his misses were paying off: At the end of the first half, his last-second corner 3 was in and out, but Turell swooped in from the opposite side for an above-the-rim put-back that sent Y.U. to the locker room with a 38-35 lead — and momentum despite their first-half struggles.

In the second half, the Macs came out with dominating defense — and nothing could save the opposing Dolphins. Final score: 81-49 (that’s 43-14 in the second half).

“I loved our second half energy and defense,” Y.U. coach Elliot Steinmetz said. “In a game where we didn’t shoot the ball well, it was good to see our defense carry the day.”

Steinmetz has turned Y.U. basketball into a top-level Division III program, with a winning system and a roster packed with smart and talented players — and a real shot at winning a national championship. The team is attracting national attention.

Yeshiva University guard Ofek Reef can fly, and sports a dazzling hairstyle. (Courtesy Y.U.)

But now the fans have to do their part. Sure, they love their Macs, and they get jazzed up over a big block, slam or 3-pointer. But overall, the crowd Tuesday night felt disorganized and lacked creativity. Where are the original chants — something beyond the predictable “Dee-fense”? Maybe, “Frum Jews can jump”? Or, “We can boogie, we can fight, we don’t ball on Friday night”? Or how about singing, after every Turell big play: “Ry-an, melekh yisrael, chai chai vekayam”?

A few signs would be nice. And maybe some nicknames: Jordan Armstrong, a grad student new to the team, who already played three seasons at Oberlin as an undergrad, should hereby be known as The Matrix (if you check out his photo and don’t get it, you’re definitely not ready for the red pill). Oh, and something, anything, with latkes for goodness’ sake.

In short: Watching this Macs team should feel more like big-time soccer (sans the fighting and racism) and less like a yeshiva high school game. 

One person you can’t blame is Turell’s mom. She’s up out of her seat, trying to organize the fans in some chants throughout the game. But, come on, Y.U. fans. She needs some help out there.

A few additional notes from the game:

• Turell seemed fine bumping his head on the side of the backboard, courtesy of a lob gone wrong. But he seemed fine — his kippah may have cushioned the blow.

• It was actually Turell’s second blown alleyoop of the game, the other being a difficult back-to-the-basket put-in that rolled out just as the fans were about to explode.

• Even on an off-shooting night (just five points and several missed open looks), Leifer was finding ways to control the game (12 rebounds, nine assists, four steals).

• Speaking of Jews who can jump: Ofek Reef. 

• Adi Markovich has more hustle than Bernie Madoff.

SCOREBOARD BRIEFS

Gabe Kapler wins top baseball manager award after historic season

By Jacob Gurus

(JTA) — Gabe Kapler, the Jewish manager of the San Francisco Giants, was named the National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday. 

In his second year at the helm of the Giants, Kapler guided a team with low expectations entering 2021 to a franchise-record and league-leading 107 wins in the regular season.

San Francisco lost to their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the division series of the playoffs. Kapler’s award is based on the team’s regular season performance.

Kapler earned 28 of 30 first place votes, beating Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Mike Shildt (formerly) of the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Gabe Kapler looks on during a game at Oracle Park in San Francisco. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

“My goal is obviously to support the players and what their goals are, create an environment that’s helpful for players to grow and develop and for staff members to also grow and develop,” Kapler said after winning the award.

The 46-year old Hollywood, California native has a Jewish tattoo on each leg: a Jewish star on his left leg and “Never Again” — a reference to the Holocaust — on his right leg.

Kapler played for six teams during his 12-year major league career, largely as a role player and backup outfielder. After retiring in 2010, Kapler played and coached for Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

In 2014, Kapler joined the Dodgers as the organization’s minor league system director and became a finalist for the team’s managerial opening a year later. In 2018, Kapler was hired to manage the Philadelphia Phillies, but he was fired at the end of the 2019 season. 

Just a month later, Kapler was hired by the Giants. He quickly resurrected his reputation as an analytically savvy manager who easily connected with players. He spoke about playing video games during quarantine, and became the first MLB manager to kneel during the national anthem to protest systemic racism. 

Last week, the Giants extended Kapler’s contract through 2024.

Max Fried wins 2nd consecutive Gold Glove Award for best defensive pitcher

By Jacob Gurvis 

(JTA) — Max Fried is having quite a month.

The Jewish star pitcher won his second straight Gold Glove Award, given to the best defensive player at each position in each league, on Sunday night, five days after he pitched the Atlanta Braves to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 26 years.

The 27-year-old left-hander beat out fellow finalists Zach Davies of the Chicago Cubs and Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies for the award.

Max Fried fields the ball during Game 1 of the 2021 NLCS. (Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Since he became a full-time starter in 2019, Fried leads all big-league pitchers with 16 defensive runs saved, a metric that measures the number of runs a player saves or costs his team compared to an average player. He led all National League pitchers with 6 DRS in 2021.

Fried has also gained a reputation for his strong pickoff move — which involves throwing to a base to catch a player with a long lead. He ranked second in the NL with six pickoffs in 2021. 

Fried joins Atlanta Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Phil Niekro as the only Braves pitchers to win multiple Gold Glove Awards. Maddux is the all-time MLB Gold Glove leader with 18, including 10 consecutive wins as a member of the Braves. Niekro, known for his legendary knuckleball, won five.

Main Photo: Eitan Halpert brings the ball up court at home in Yeshiva University’s win over Eastern Connecticut State, Nov. 10, 2021. (Courtesy Y.U.)

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