The 2020-2021 Yeshiva University Maccabees were only able to play seven games due to the coronavirus pandemic; however, the Macs were still able to have an incredible impact. The team went undefeated in those seven games, extending their winning streak to 36 games, tied for the second-longest streak in Division III (D3) history. Luckily, there is very little roster turnover this year, as the Maccabees will be returning their top seven scorers. With the team’s core still active, the Macs should continue to be a top men’s basketball program this coming year, and enter the season ranked second in D3.
Yeshiva kicks off the season this Saturday night, November 6, at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and the Macs’ home opener is scheduled for Wednesday night, November 10, at 8 p.m. For all updates, and to watch the Macs in action, go to MacsLive.com, and follow @MacsLive on Twitter and Instagram.
Here is a look at the Yeshiva University Maccabees’ roster this coming season.
Ethan Lasko: 6’2” Ethan Lasko is a grad student who will soak up many minutes immediately for Yeshiva. Lasko will take advantage of last season’s NCAA eligibility waiver, allowing him to play another year of college basketball. The sharpshooting Lasko played four years of Division I basketball; he began his collegiate career at Indiana University, before spending the last three seasons with Manhattan College, just up the road from YU.
Jordan Armstrong: Grad student Jordan Armstrong is a 6’7” rim-protecting big man who played three seasons of basketball for Oberlin College, averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds on 56.6% shooting over his career. Armstrong provides the Macs’ frontcourt lineup with height and interior defense, which stands to come in handy against some of the bigger teams in D3.
Nimrod Altit: A former Valley Torah teammate of Ryan Turell’s, Nimrod Altit has transferred to YU from Division II Southeastern Oklahoma State University. At 6”7, Altit joins Armstrong as a tall, big man addition to Yeshiva’s deep roster and a potential contributing member to the team’s success.
Aryeh Halpert: Former four-year MTA player Aryeh Halpert is joining the Maccabees in his senior year at YU. The 6’2” shooting guard is a third-generation Macs player, most notably the grandson of Jonny Halpert (former player and famed coach of YU for over 40 years). Halpert has worked his way onto the team with his incredible shooting ability and his energy on defense.
Ryan Turell: A two-time D3hoops.com First-Team All-American, Ryan Turell is the best three level scorer in school history. After scoring an incredible 646 points (on 63.6/46.2/79.5 shooting) during the 2019-2020 season, Turell came back this past season even better and with added muscle, and averaged 26 points and 8.3 rebounds/game against stronger competition. Due to COVID’s impact on college basketball, Turell still finds himself 500 points away from becoming Yeshiva’s all-time leading scorer. However, Turell’s elite ability to put the ball in the basket should not only lead him to reach 1872 points and capture the Yeshiva all-time scoring title but may also have him become the first Macs player to reach 2000 career points.
Gabriel Leifer: Due to the extra season of eligibility granted by the NCAA, Gabe Leifer is returning for a fifth and final season for the Macs as a graduate student. In his three-and-a-half seasons of play, Leifer has led the Yeshiva basketball team to an absurd 65-12 record, a winning percentage of 84.4%. The two-time D3hoops.com All-American holds career averages of 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game, placing him towards the top of the leaderboard in those career statistics (12th in career points, fifth in rebounds, first in assists). With the extra season of play, expect Leifer to continue to climb the YU record books.
Eitan Halpert: This past year, in what was his third season at Yeshiva, Eitan Halpert emerged as a top scorer and leader for the powerful Macs offense, averaging 18.1 points and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 51.7% from the field and 47.1% from downtown. Halpert’s ability to get hot from beyond the arc can be incredibly important for this Macs team that relies on spacing to create driving opportunities. Halpert’s emergence towards the end of 2019-20 and last season should carry over to this year, his second (and probably last) year as co-captain for YU.
Ofek Reef: Last season, despite a nagging injury, Ofek Reef was able to improve both his points per game (11.4, up from 10.7) and field goal percentage (61.1%, up from 58.3%) from his fantastic Skyline Conference Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019-20. The highly efficient Reef will most probably be back in the starting lineup and, with his reworked, smoother three-point shot combined with the same energy and athleticism that made him a fan favorite over the last couple of years, Reef will continue to shine.
Matan Zucker: Matan Zucker was an integral piece to the Macs last season, soaking up 30.1 minutes per game. The Brandeis transfer averaged 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while starting next to Gabe Leifer in the frontcourt. While Zucker may not get as many minutes this year, he will still warrant significant playing time for a Macs team that looks to contend for an NCAA championship.
Adi Markovich: A talented shooter, Adi Markovich seamlessly fit into the team’s offense last year due to his floor-spacing and passing abilities on the offensive end and his hard-nosed defense. The Israeli native’s high basketball IQ and tough, physical play make him an incredibly important player for Yeshiva this coming season.
Oren Betesh: Former Yeshiva League star Oren Betesh is entering his second season for the Maccabees, being known as a three-point specialist. Betesh only took 12 shots last season, but 11 of them were from beyond the arc (of which he cashed in on five). Betesh’s instincts and quickness will help him develop into a solid player on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Max Leibowitz: Playing in his third year with Ryan Turell after starring with him at Valley Torah High School, Max Leibowitz is a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc and an aggressive defender. The third-year guard’s abilities and familiarity with the Macs’ offense will be a huge plus for the Maccabees.
Jasper Newman: Jasper Newman is a third-year 6’4” forward for Yeshiva. The Rochester native is a very versatile, jack-of-all-trades type of player, which makes him a fantastic asset to any team. Newman’s all-around abilities, combined with his knowledge of the Macs’ play style, will likely help earn him more minutes this season than ever before.
Ryan Bokor: Third-year player Ryan Bokor is a great mid-range shooter for a big man. At 6’6”, Bokor possesses the size to be a great forward who can either score inside or step out for a jumper. Bokor’s shooting touch and veteran presence on this dangerous Macs team will be important for Yeshiva over the course of the season.
Zack Muller: An incredible shooter and playmaker, Zack Muller plays the guard position for YU. The former Shalhevet standout and Sarachek MVP is entering his second year for the Maccabees and looking to make a large impact. With his strong skill set, Muller can definitely carve out a role for himself on the team.
Gav Landau: Suiting up for his second season, Gav Landau is a lights-out shooter who led the entire state of Maryland in 3-pointers during the 2018-2019 high school year. Landau is also known for his basketball IQ, something that will earn him playing time over the course of the year.
Alon Jakubowitz: Third-year big man Alon Jakubowitz is a welcome sight for Macs fans. The 6’7” forward has become a fan favorite of sorts, and for good reason—Jakubowitz’s long arms and big frame make him fantastic at rejecting opponents’ shots and an ideal lob partner. With another year under his belt, Jakubowitz can earn more minutes this season as an off-the-bench big.
Arad Mishkal: Now in his second year with Yeshiva after transferring from Mercer County, Arad Mishkal will be more familiar with the Maccabees’ style of play. Standing at 6’4”, Mishkal is an incredibly hard-nosed player and a solid rebounder for his size, something the Macs will definitely take advantage of.
David Sabzehroo: Due to his fantastic 3-point shot, David Sabzehroo is always a threat on the offensive end. In fact, in high school, Sabzehroo was the leading scorer for his team three years in a row. Now in his second year with Yeshiva, Sabzehroo should find his skills transitioning seamlessly with the Macs’ 3-point-heavy offense.
By Alexander Wildes