Basketball, the main event in yeshiva sports, has arrived for the 2014-2015 school year. A year after two Eastern Conference teams ruled the court, it is the Western Conference that is projected to grab the attention this season.
At the top of the pack in the varsity world are the Frisch Cougars. The 2013 JV basketball champions feature a dominant group headed up by seniors Tyler Hod, Benny Tuchman and Andrew Levine and juniors Andrew Langer and Noah Schechter. Two years ago, this squad dominated the JV league and will build on the late push made by the varsity in the Sarachek tournament last March to catapult them to the school’s second championship this decade.
Looking to challenge them will be the Storm of TABC. Only a few months removed from a controversial call that would have capped an epic comeback against eventual champion North Shore, the Storm are retooling after the loss of the inside-outside combination of Yehoshua Zirman and Alex Hirt. The Storm will featurd three of the top guards in the league this season and will look to the junior duo of two-sport star Shua Naor and Tai Gerszberg as the complements to seniors Dan Poleyoff, Moshe Brum and Solo Shulman.
Also in the hunt is last year’s defending Western Conference Champions, the Ramaz Rams. They will feature one of the top backcourts in the league, led by junior Sammy Merkin, who dropped nearly 30 points in the opening round of the Magen David tournament in September. With such talent, they are poised to make a run at a repeat appearance despite the loss of most of last year’s team to graduation. Despite the inexperienced squad, Coach Randy Dulny has shown that he can prepare his players to be ready for the big run in February and March.
Another group decimated by graduation was the Heschel Heat. Heschel, last year’s Cinderella story–seemingly coming from nowhere to make a semifinal run–the Heat lost 8 of their 10 main contributors coming into this season. But that does not mean that they are any less dangerous. Seniors Jonathan Granowitz and Sam Lippman will be joined by solid junior Ben Schwartzben, instrumental in Heschel JV’s similar run last season, and should form a dangerous trio around playoff time.
The SAR Sting are also slated to make another playoff run. Having graduated most of its team from last season, the Sting will look toward the talent of their juniors, fresh off the JV Semifinal run last season.
This year’s sleeper pick is JEC. The Thunder, a year removed from a 1-13 record, will be bolstered by the play of the Schulman twins. Watch for JEC to make a run at one of the lower playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Look for them to be challenged by the MTA Lions. MTA returns senior guard Willy Kluger to aid in their quest.
Elliot Weiselberg is the host of the Court Report as well as the voice of the JM in the AM Sports Update for Nachum Segal airing on Tuesdays around 7:20 AM. Elliot has served in numerous capacities including referee, analyst and commentator, and he currently coaches Flatbush JV and Varsity as well as the NY Junior High defending champion Har Torah Hat Trix.