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There are overtime games, upsets, tournament brackets, sleeper teams, thrillers, fierce competition, and school pride. Players are vying to bring the trophy back to their school in front of many great fans. No, I’m not talking about the NCAA tournament, rather I’m describing the Jewish March Madness- the National Hillel Basketball tournament. Essentially the only differences between the two tournaments are that our trophy is called the Kiddush Cup and that Dick Vitale doesn’t announce during our games (yet).

 

Last year, teams from the University of Maryland won both the men’s and women’s tournament, but it was not an easy road for either team. In the men’s bracket, Maryland had to play a very tough Harvard team in the championship in a crazy and loud atmosphere, but in the end the Kiddush Cup stayed in College Park.

 

As a board member for last year’s tournament, I got to witness this amazing weekend for the first time. I was astounded by every aspect of the tournament from how competitive the games were to the greatly enjoyable social events. It’s an amazing opportunity to get together with other college students from around the country and play a sport we all love. To quote former commissioner of the NBA, David Stern said, “If past tournaments are any indication, you are indeed in for a great weekend of basketball.” The board is aiming to make the tournament even bigger and better than last year, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

 

A number of teams have already registered and this is shaping up to be the most competitive tournament yet. Teams from many different parts of the country are coming to College Park for the tournament weekend, and it will be a great social event where college students can get to know people from all different schools.

 

Registration is open through March 1 and spots are filling quickly! We urge you to register ASAP so you don’t miss out on this remarkable weekend of much more than just competitive basketball.

 

 

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Get Pumped for NHBT’ 15!

Get pumped! It is the start of the New Year, and that means that the 2015 National Hillel Basketball Tournament is just around the corner. The tournament will officially take place April 17th through April 19th. Be sure to check out our video announcing these dates and much more about the 2015 tournament.

Over the course of the weekend, athletes will have a chance to bond with other athletes from across the country, and also compete for the prized championship trophy, the Kiddush Cup. The Kiddush Cup is awarded to the champion of the tournament, who can also claim the title of the best collegiate Jewish basketball team. This year, the men’s and women’s University of Maryland teams look to repeat as victors, while the rest of the field competes to win the title and dethrone the hosts.

Last year’s tournament brought together thousands of students from Hillel Houses across the country, all uniting over the game of basketball. The game of basketball more than any other sport in the world, brings together people of all ages, backgrounds, ideologies and world views. It is the game being played in parks and gyms around the world, the game where a small group of individuals who may not have known one another minutes before arriving to the court, become a unified group once the ball is tipped. While Hillel’s around the world bring together Jewish students of all backgrounds and affiliations, basketball brings together athletes with the common goal of winning and excelling in competition. It is the most fitting sport to bring members of Hillel Houses from across the country together for.

The new tournament board has already started working towards making the Hillel Tournament even better than last year. With many new faces working on this year’s tournament, we anticipate the 2015 National Hillel Basketball Tournament to be bigger and better than ever.

I had the privilege of being part of last year’s Tournament board and after seeing just how special last year’s event was, I knew immediately that I would want to be a part of it again this year. The hours of hard work that I had put in last year had turned into joy, excitement, and unity for the participants in the tournament. Being on the board last year was such a rewarding experience for me and while college life presents many different groups and clubs to get involved in, I knew for certain that I would be continuing my work for the National Hillel Basketball Tournament.

We hope to see you in College Park April 17-19 and stay tuned for more!

 

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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…)