By Aliza Weiss
After the Yeshiva University Maccabees men’s basketball team defeated Stevens Institute of Technology on March 8, 2021, the team tied the record for the second longest winning streak in Division III men’s basketball history at 36 games with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
CNN’s Jason Caroll documents footage of the YU basketball court, while taking statements from YU players, such as Ryan Turell and Gabriel Leifer, in a recent article entitled, “Meet the basketball team with the longest win streak in the US.” The Maccabees men’s basketball team, he reports, set a record with a 36 game winning streak in 2020.
In an accompanying two minute and thirty nine second video, Caroll captures the astonishing 2020 season that the YU basketball team had, which abruptly came to an end due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caroll also brought attention to the fact that this year’s NCAA division III tournament was cancelled and that the team has only been able to play 8 games, with no fans in the audience. Despite this, he relays that the message of the Yeshiva University basketball team is much more than a purely victorious team, as Ryan Turell shared with CNN saying, “We want to show that Jews can play basketball and we want to make the Jewish community proud.”
Many players have shone through during this season. Ryan Turell is a key player on the Yeshiva University basketball team who has recently been in the spotlight and has been the subject of a recently published “LA Times” article titled “Next ‘Jewish Jordan’? Can L.A.’s Ryan Turell be the first Orthodox Jewish NBA player?” Ryan’s status as a core player and potential future NBA star is unique considering the fact that Ryan is a Modern Orthodox Jewish basketball player. As such, Ryan took this spotlight as a great opportunity to represent the Jewish community in basketball and shared with the LA Times stating, “I’m ready to make history.” Similarly, the Maccabees boys basketball team sticks with this montra, as stated in the broadcasted CNN news report by YU player Gabriel Leifer, “We’re representing the people, all of the sudden people are excited to come to our games and that’s just something bigger than basketball.”
The Maccabees have quickly risen and do not plan on letting anything slow them down, whether it be virtual learning, or the cancellation of the NCAA division III tournament. Although this season is not ideal, head coach Elliot Steinmetz shared with CNN’s Jason Caroll saying, “We’re not that little engine that could we’re that big engine that we are hoping can stay consistent.”