The Passover preparation season is in full swing, but at Yeshiva College in Washington Heights, they’re celebrating the Maccabees.
Not the guerrilla fighter priests of Chanukah fame, but rather the men’s school’s basketball team, which is riding a 35-game winning streak, picking up from last season when the Maccabees reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA’s Division III national tournament before the pandemic shut down the rest of the event.
The unbeaten streak is the third longest in Division III men’s basketball history, and the longest among all current NCAA Division I, II and III teams. Y.U. has started the 2020-21 season at 6-0 and is ranked No. 4 in the D3hoops.com Men’s National Poll. The Maccabees, the defending Skyline Conference champion, haven’t lost since the opening game of the previous campaign.
D3hoops.com also named senior forward Gabriel Leifer of Lawrence, New York, to its Team of the Week. Leifer, a returning fourth team All-American, is just the fourth men’s basketball player, and seventh overall, in the 24-year history of D3hoops.com to be named to its Team of the Week in four separate seasons, according to Y.U.
For all its promise, the team will be denied the chance for a tournament title for the second season in a row: Due to low participation numbers among member schools, NCAA Division III winter championships are canceled for the 2020-21 academic year.
What’s their secret?
Sadly, we forgot to ask YU President Ari Berman that when we interviewed him for this week’s cover story.