THE BLOG

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Jews And Basketball

Jews have been playing basketball for a very long time, and they actually used to rule the game of basketball. The Philidelphia Sphas, which stands for South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, were the outstanding basketball team in the U.S. from 1918-1959. These guys were the best, and they were all Jewish.

Things have changed since then however, and a significantly fewer number of Jewish players play basketball in the NBA. According to my calculations there are four Jewish NBA players right now, and that list consists of Amare Stoudemire, Omri Casspi, Jordan Farmar, and Gal Mekel. There are a similar number of Jewish athletes in the WNBA.

Despite the fairly small number of professional Jewish basketball players, the National Hillel Basketball Tournament will bring us a step closer to reviving the rich history of great Jewish basketball players. Throughout the entire weekend the tournament is taking place, there is no doubt that very competitive basketball will be played.

Teams have to get their initial deposit in by February 23rd so act quickly to not only experience a memorable weekend, but to play some great basketball as well.

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A Look At Our Sponsors

A very exciting new addition to this year’s list of sponsors is Under Armour. Kevin Plank, the CEO and founder of Under Armour attended the University of Maryland and is a huge supporter of the Terrapins. We are very appreciative to have Under Armour as one of our sponsors and thrilled that they will be providing jerseys and other merchandise for the players.

Two more of our sponsors are Pepsi Co and bobble, and both will be crucial in ensuring the players of the 2014 National Hillel Basketball Tournament stay hydrated. Pepsi Co will be providing cases of Gatorade and water, while bobble will be providing players with bobble water bottles.

We are also very happy to have Muscle Milk and FuelStrip on board as sponsors. Muscle Milk will be providing drinks, powders, bars, and other products and FuelStrip will have their unique swabs, chews and drinks available during the tournament. The players of this year’s tournament will certainly be able to stay hydrated and energized thanks to Pepsi Co, bobble, Muscle Milk, and FuelStrip.

In addition to staying hydrated and energized, we can’t let the athletes go hungry. Thus, we are pleased to have Ben Yehuda Cafe and Pizzeria on board as one of our sponsors.

Moreover, Klipped Kippahs will again be a sponsor for this year’s tournament. Arguably the most important part of the uniform, there is nobody better than Klipped to provide the Kippahs for the tournament. If you check out the Kippot Voting section of the website you can actually vote on which Kippah design you like best and we encourage everyone to do so.

On top of all these things, it is crucial to ensure the tournament is publicized successfully. We are thrilled to have the Washington Jewish Week and the Baltimore Jewish Times as sponsors. Both of these publications will cover the tournament and spread awareness on their social media platforms. To coincide with having our tournament covered by these publications, this is an experience none of us will want to forget. We expect this tournament to be bigger and better than ever, and so we are pleased to have Documented Video Productions as our tournament videographer to document the weekend.

Last but certainly not least is the Leader Family Fund, the tournament’s primary sponsor. They facilitate the tournament by providing crucial financial support and brilliant creative input to make this tournament a success. Dina and Jonathan Leader are New York based philanthropists, who contribute funds to over fifty Jewish organizations annually. Their main emphasis is on making Judaism beautiful and relevant to a broad spectrum of American Jews and fostering stronger ties with Israel. The Leaders work through the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the University of Maryland and Baruch College Hillel organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the US Israel Business Council, and various poverty, Holocaust, and Russian-Jewish agencies in New York City.

We thank all of these sponsors that make the National Hillel Basketball Tournament special. Their support and generosity is greatly appreciated.

Registration Is Now Open

Registration for the 2014 National Hillel Basketball Tournament is now open! We are accepting teams that put down their initial deposit on a rolling basis, which means the quicker you are the more secure your spot is.

We have a very large amount of interest for this year’s tournament, so again be sure to secure a spot as early as you can. If you are interested but not 100% set on entering the tournament, keep in mind that this is a one of a kind experience. NBA commissioner David Stern in his video message at last year’s tournament expressed that this tournament is special because it “brings together Jewish college students around a sport they love.” I promise you this is a weekend you won’t forget.

Due to our goal of having teams from all over the nation participating in the tournament, we are now offering a travel scholarship. This is the first time the scholarship is being offered, and it is a way to support teams traveling long distances. We understand the financial challenges burdening teams outside of the East Coast, and that is why we are offering this scholarship, which will be awarded on a rolling basis.

Keep in mind that a $300 deposit is due Sunday February 23rd if you want to participate in the National Hillel Basketball Tournament and that spots will be filling up quickly. Even though the tournament doesn’t take place until the end of March, registration is officially open and we look forward to welcoming you in March.

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Are you ready?

It’s here! Get excited! And no, I’m not talking about the New Year. I’m talking about the official release of the date for the 2014 National Hillel Basketball Tournament. The tournament will take place March 28th through March 30th. This is where the true March Madness happens as we expect this year’s tournament to be bigger and better than ever.

 

There have been quite a few exciting updates to this year’s tournament, the most pertinent being the release of our first ever promotional video. For those who have not seen the video yet, you should definitely check it out. Quite a few notable speakers are featured in the video including Kevin Blackistone as well as the tournament co-chairs Michael Shrager and Joseph Tuchman among others.

 

Another exciting update to the tournament is the addition of new sponsors. Just as in past tournaments, The Leader Family Fund is the tournament’s primary sponsor. For this year’s tournament, we are thrilled to also have Under Armour who will be providing jerseys and other team merchandise, Pepsi Co, Muscle Milk, Bobble, FuelStrip, The Washington Jewish Week, and the Baltimore Jewish Times as sponsors for the tournament.

 

This is a very exciting time and while there have been many significant updates to the 2014 tournament, there is still much more in the works. We anticipate this year’s National Hillel Basketball Tournament hosted by the University of Maryland to be the biggest and best one to date.

 

We hope to see you in College Park March 28th-30th and stay tuned for more.

Tournament Update:

by: David Roumani

3 Pt. Competition sponsored by BodyArmour Super Drink

MEN’S WINNER: ARIE HENDELES (NYU)

WOMEN’S WINNER: MICHELE FELDMAN (UMD-MILLER)

Recent Game Recaps: Elimination Round

Karasov’s Game Winning Layup sends UMD Alhadef Packing

-       Perhaps one of the most exciting games yet, Drexel came off a timeout with only seconds left in the 2nd half when Karasov found himself open in the paint and sent Drexel to the next round. It was a great team effort for both squads.

YU (RITHOTLZ) too much for it’s rival REITS

-       Andrew Haft and Simon Brookim led the attack for YU (RITHOLTZ). REITS tried to use their ability to run the floor and get to the basket to their advantage but the discipline of Ritholtz’s team was too much.

BARUCH (LAPSON) pounds SYRACUSE

-       It was a blow-out. Everyone on Lapson’s team seemed to score at ease. Bash, Lapson and Hoffman paced the team, and Hoffman’s dunk with a few minutes remaining was one of many highlights.

Some Game Recaps:

by: David Roumani

 

As the tournament gets ready to for the single-elimination stage, there are a few big story lines.

GOLDEN GATE 25 – YU LAZAROS 24: After poor shooting in the first half, Jason Felder and Yaron Charnes helped Golden Gate overcome a halftime deficit and led their team to a thrilling 1 point victory. Losers in their 1st two games, Golden Gate will look to build on this win and carry momentum into the next round.

UMD ALHADEF 19 – BARUCH LAPSON 16: This game was all about David Shmelzer. He took over in the 2nd half to lead his team to a 3 pt. victory over a very defensive minded Baruch squad.

UMD LANGER 27 – BOSTON U. 22: After a slow start, Langer’s Maryland squad came up on top thanks to a strong performance from Jonah Wiesel. Teammate Naham Shapiro told NHBT, “He flat out hustled, and just wanted it more than anyone else on the court.”

UMD HARAMATI 18 – RUTGERS 13: Captain Natan Haramati’s court vision and ball handling were key in this match-up. He set the tempo and got help from teammate Miles Pulitzer.

YU RITHOLTZ 25 – WASH U. SILBERMAN 20: It’s becoming pretty clear that Ritholtz and former HANC teammate Dov Levine still have chemistry. In a close game earlier on, their knowledge of where each other should be on the court was too much for Silberman’s team, and Ritholtz’s team held on to win by 5.

Sat. Night Scores

Preliminary Tournament Rounds Scores – Saturday Night

Wash U (Silberman) 20, Columbia 22

YU (Rozensweig) 12, UMD (Langer) 37

UMD (Lerner) 24, Queens (Marcus) 9

UMD (Alhadef) 30, YU (Lazarus) 37

NYU 18, Baruch (Lapson) 23

Golden Gate 21, Drexel 25

Wash U (Steinbrecher) 3, UMD (Miller) 35

Stern (Yoshor) 32, UMD (Wilkowski) 9

UMD (Wertheimer) 14, John Jay 22

Baruch (Taub) 16, Wisconsin 20

UMD (Bain) 22, RIETS 15

Stern (Aiash) 20, Queens (Marcus) 8

UMASS 19, UMD (Potash) 29

UMD (Haramati) over Syracuse

Goucher College ties Queens (Donner)

John Jay over Rutgers

UMD (Miller) over UMD (Wilkowski)

UMD (Alhadef) over Golden Gate

NYU over YU (Lazarus)

Baruch (Lapson) over YU (Rozensweig)

Wash U (Silberman) 29, UMD (Langer) 25

Stern (Yoshor) over Stern (Aiash)

Boston over Columbia

UMD (Wertheimer) over YU (Ritholtz)

Baruch (Taub) over John Jay

Queens (Marcus) over Wash U (Steinbrecher)

UMD (Lerner) 25, UMD (Wilkowski) 14

Wisconsin 32, UMD (Bain) 11

UMASS 33, RIETS 32

 

What to look for at the Hillel Tournament (teams 1-16)

Washington University’s Men’s and Women’s Team pose for a picture at the NHBT’13 registration

 

By: David Roumani

Every tournament needs someone like me. Some guy who ‘claims’ to know about all the teams and all the athletes. Tip-off is in 48 hours, and it’s time for some inside information as to why each team is deserving of the sanctified Kiddish Cup.

For those who might doubt my abilities to stalk Jewish student-athletes, my resume includes working for the 2012 Sarachek Broadcast Team, playing ball with Yeshiva U. students (which is essentially half the tournament’s athletes right?), and spending a copious amount of time stalking JvElite during high school.

Here We Go!

MENS BRACKET

1) BARUCH (Lapson): It’s quite simple; this team should be really good. Coming fresh off his selection to the Skyline’s All Conference selection, Gil Bash should be a force to reckon with thanks to his ability to get to the basket and flat out score. Dovie Hoffman has scored 1000+ points for an NCCA basketball team. The combination of Bash, Hoffman, and a big presence inside from Lapson makes this team one of the more dangerous ones in the tournament.

2) BOSTON U. (Packer): A Maimonides reunion will take place on the court, and it won’t be fun if you plan on guarding one of BOSTON U’s quick guards. Aaron Schacht and Avi Packer just might run opponents off the court, and Israeli import Paul Althotz will look to control the paint. Oh, and about Packer, it might behoove you to have a girl guard him – focus is key!

3) COLOMBIA U. (Abramson): Max Feldstein and Mike Berg must have some chemistry left. It’s impossible that this dynamic duo that kept Ramaz atop national rankings for years has lost it’s niche. Also, New Yorker’s are used to having their way, on and off the court.

4) GOLDEN GATE (Charnoff):  This team knows one thing, and one thing only – how to win off the court. We talk about camaraderie and this team is a prime example of players who just want to have fun. Look for one of Golden Gate’s ‘Big 3’ (Charnoff, Aiken, Felder) in the next edition of Forbes’ 40 under 40, or perhaps in the oval office sometime very, very soon.

5) GOUCHER (Mufson): This team is flat out scary. The run the court exceptionally well, show tremendous hustle, and may or may not play NCCA basketball. I’m taking about the entire team. Look for one of these very competitive players to take over and lead this team to the late rounds of the tournament. They’ll do what it takes, even if means a bloody body part along the way.

6) MARYLAND (Wertheimer): My only concern is this team’s lack of depth. On a positive note, this team’s captain is two time Sarachek MVP. Their center is quite tall, and Jonny Nulman is the most passionate basketball player I have ever met. Just to re-iterate my earlier point – this team has no subs.

7) MARYLAND (Bain): Graduating senior Captain Daniel Bain will look to rely on experience and wisdom. This team could put points up in a hurry thank to Max Newman’s long range and Jake Greenberg’s ability to score from pretty much anywhere. And for those who weren’t sure, Benjy Karlin does still attend UMD, and will be playing basketball for the first time in a few years.

8) MARYLAND (Langer): Last year’s tournament runner-up is back, and these guys are hungry. Jonah Wiesel is absolutely terrific, and probably one of the best players to never compete in Sarachek. His selfishness but also his ability to take over games if needed is why I’m choosing this team to win this year’s tournament. He’ll have help from former Frisch standout Jason Langer, and Naham Shapiro, whose athleticism is inhuman. Before I forget, everyone on this team can shoot from beyond the arch; really well.

9) Yeshiva (Lazaros): This team COULD be the biggest surprise of the tournament. What’s intriguing is how Jack Gindi and Eli Osdoba will fair in their 1st tournament appearance. Both players made a name for themselves on their respective high school teams and will have help from YU big-man Arman Davitan.

10) Yeshiva (Ritholtz): Opponents should have a blast playing this team. Captain Benjy Rithotlz is arguably the best 3-pt. shooter in the tournament, and was a big reason why his team were crowned Tournament Champions in 2012. Watch out for Dov Levine, while he may seem small and not your typical post presence, he is ferocious on the boards, and could be this team’s most important role player.

11) DREXEL: All-star center Sammy Blivaiss, 6’5″, has been in the gym tirelessly working on his alley-oop dunks and is sure to throw it down over the course of the tournament. He courteously declined a workout with the Philadelphia 76ers to come represent his school in the tourney. Sharp-shooting guards Aaron Cohn and Ari Bressman will look to ‘make it rain’ from deep and penetrate the lane

12) MARYLAND (Haramati): Floor marshal Josh Charnoff doesn’t turn the ball over – ever.  He’ll have help from scoring machine Ehud Hakakian and will be reunited with his high school big man Aaron Zuckerman.

13) MARYLAND (Alhadef): Cornell’s Eitan Chemerinski was supposed to be on this team, which would have made them instant favorites. Without him, I still like this team’s chances as they will have plenty of guys to score. Just take a look at their starting five. No one really stands out, they’re just all really good.

14) RIETS: This tournament brings together Jews of all denominations; even those going for Smicha. If Ari Raskas, Joseph Strauss and Tani Weissman, can remember how to put up points as well as they did in their Rambam days, they will be one of the tournaments more dangerous teams. Their other weapon is guard Benjy Waxman, who is just a flat out hustler.

15) WISCONSON: These badgers are known for playing great team basketball, a factor that is often overlooked comes tournament time. Each player on the team is 5’10, which is significant – somehow.

16) QUEENS: Silver Spring native Zach Donner and Yoni Jaskoll will be crucial to this team’s success. Tell someone to keep an eye on Ike Franco, when he get’s hot – he doesn’t miss.

 

(more teams to come later…)

A Look at the Hillel Tournament’s Three Big Sponsors

By: David Roumani

I’ve heard it, and I’m sure you have to. Hydration and energy are two vital things you need when preparing for a basketball game. As student-athletes from around the country prepare to compete in the 2013 National Hillel Basketball Tournament, it’s fitting that thousands of bottles of BodyArmor Super Drink will be circulating College Park at this weekend’s tournament.  “Superior Nutrition + Hydration” is printed near the top of each bottle, which according to BodyArmor contains more potassium than five ordinary sports drinks.

I played for my high school basketball team, and I remember the countless times that our principal would stop practice and demand we put Kippot on our heads. Problem? They would fall off almost instantaneously. Jon Kaweblum, who used to coach varsity basketball at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, has found a solution to the problem, by inventing Kippot that are secured to the head by metal clips. Since founding Klipped a few years ago, many high schools have ordered Kippot for their athletic teams, and Klipped has become a frequent sponsor of the Sarachek Basketball Tournament. Thanks to Kaweblum’s vision, athletes who wish will be able to play with efficient Kippot during this weekend’s tournament.

The tournament’s third and primary sponsor is the Leader family. While the Leader family doesn’t produce sports drinks or Kippot, they have chosen to facilitate the Hillel Tournament, by providing financial support and creative input in order to make this tournament a success. Dina and Jonathan Leader are New York based philanthropists, who contribute funds to over fifty Jewish organizations annually. Their main emphasis is on making Judaism beautiful and relevant to a broad spectrum of American Jews and fostering stronger ties with Israel. The Leaders work through the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the University of Maryland and Baruch College Hillel organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, the US Israel Business Council, and various poverty, Holocaust, and Russian-Jewish agencies in New York City.

Klipped Kippot will be worn, BodyArmor drinks will be consumed, and the tournament participants will hear from the Leader’s during the duration of the tournament. We can’t thank each of these sponsors enough for the support and generosity.

Judaism and Basketball Makes for a One-of-a-Kind College Experience

Ever wonder what happened to all those Jewish high school basketball stars that you read about on JVElite or watched at the Red Sarachek tournament?  A good number of them show up each year for the National Hillel Basketball Tournament at the University of Maryland.  For all of those Jewish students who truly miss their days playing organized basketball in high school, the Hillel tournament offers a chance to re-live the days when all that mattered was their school’s ranking in the Yeshiva League or their seed in the state tournament.  With over 30 teams from different colleges around the country, the Hillel Tournament is an experience that offers students a chance to make friends, spend a weekend with one of the most vibrant Jewish campus communities, and, of course, play some basketball.

Only 48 hours after the 2013 National Hillel Basketball Tournament Facebook invitation was launched there were approximately 150 confirmed student attendees and about half a dozen teams already registered. A week later, with the tournament website fully up and running and inquiries from other schools filling the Tournament Chair’s inbox, it was clear that excitement around the country was palpable.

The tournament has been a huge success in its first two years, even bringing in NCAA athletes from Yeshiva University and Goucher College.  Last year, the men’s championship featured Jonah Wiesel’s Maryland team and a team from Yeshiva University led by the Ritholtz brothers (If neither of those names ring a bell, just Google them). Both Wiesel and the Ritholtz brothers starred for their respective high school teams; so it’s no surprise their teams squared off in the tournament championship.  University of Maryland’s own team won the women’s championship, lead by Danielle Miller against Penn’s team with Rebecca Stein as captain.

What makes this tournament so impactful is the amount of students it attracts. Players as well as fans from all over the country come to partake in the tournament.  Observant, less affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish students alike see this as an opportunity to spend a weekend in a Jewish environment and mingle with students from around the country.

Many students at the University of Maryland take time to help organize this weekend tournament, and the work they put in is noticeable when one walks into the Reckord Armory in College Park on Saturday night. Whether they are managing the logistics of the weekend, keeping score, taking photos, updating the website, or refereeing, this tournament is a complete result of student collaboration.

At the end of the day, only some players will leave with a trophy, but we can assure you that each and every student involved in the tournament, whether they’re a fan, a player or a staffer, will walk away with a Jewish experience that they will never forget – an experience that only the National Hillel Basketball Tournament can offer.