By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News
The Division III Yeshiva University Maccabees are currently the winningest team in NCAA men’s basketball. The Maccabees are playing like the fate of the Jewish people was on the line, winning 35 straight matches.
The unbelievable winning streak for the New York City-based team started in November of 2019, and they want to stretch it to tie SUNY Potsdam’s record of 60 straight wins (1985-1987).
“We weren’t thinking about it for a while,” head coach Elliot Steinmetz told The Daily News. “If there was an NCAA tournament or a conference tournament this year, we probably still wouldn’t be. But this streak kind of gives the guys something to keep playing for.”
The Yeshiva University blue and white is coached by Steinmetz and former New York Knicks player Michael Sweetney.
“You walk in the gym and it’s pretty much no breathing room,” Sweetney told The Daily News about the crowd before the pandemic. “Standing room only. People were standing the whole games. People from the Jewish community were coming to support, but also people from Washington Heights, which was cool to see.”
Yeshiva University, which plays in the Skyline Conference, is the only team in the conference with a win this season. Most of the schools in the conference have opted out of playing this year, with the ones that are participating in the season having a scaled-back schedule.
The pandemic, though, didn’t stop the Maccabees. Half of the team already had the virus and because of that, they currently practice in two groups, or pods — one of people who had Covid-19 and one which didn’t.
The pandemic has cut down their chances for some sort of title. The Maccabees (6-0) are ranked fourth in the country and would like some sort of title, The Daily News reports.
“It’s highly unlikely but possible, somebody puts together a four-team tournament,” forward Gabriel Leifer said. “We want to set ourselves up for any possible opportunity.”
The Maccabees were vying for a spot in the Division III NCAA Tournament this month, but the tournament was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.