Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jewish Hoops America


I have several guilty pleasures in this world. I love the movie Blue Chips. I could eat an entire bag of the Chocolate Chip Cookies made by Chewy...the ones in the red bag. I also love High School basketball. I loved playing, coaching, and just going to watch future college stars play the game. I stumbled across an amazing website www.jewishhoopsamerica.com. These guys keep track of the High School teams across the country. They rank them. They scout them. And they let people like me know everything there is to know about Jewish high school ball. We interviewed JHA below. Enjoy:

 Interview:
1) When and why did you start your website?
WE STARTED THE WEBSITE ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO. AT THE TIME WE WERE RUNNING A BASKETBALL CAMP FOR JEWISH HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS AT THE END OF EACH SUMMER. THE WEBSITE WAS A WAY FOR US TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE LEAGUE, PLAYERS AND COACHES THROUGHOUT THE SEASON. ONCE WE BRANCHED OUT NATIONALLY AND BEGAN TO COVER SCHOOLS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THE WEBSITE BECAME ITS OWN ENTITY AND A SEPARATE FOCUS. NOW THAT WE NO LONGER RUN THE CAMP, THE WEBSITE IS OUR WAY OF GIVING THE PLAYERS AND THE JEWISH TEAMS THE EXPOSURE THEY DESERVE.


2) How do you judge the rankings for players and teams?
WE HAVE A NATIONAL PANEL OF VOTERS. THE POLL FOLLOWS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FORMAT FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL (WITH FEWER VOTERS). EACH FIRST PLACE VOTE IS WORTH 25 POINTS, SECOND PLACE IS 24 POINTS, ETC. AFTER THE TOP 25, WE LIST ALL THE SCHOOLS THAT RECEIVED VOTES.
THE VOTERS HAVE UNTIL MONDAY AFTERNOON TO SUBMIT THEIR TOP 25'S, THE VOTES ARE TABULATED AND THE NEW POLL IS RELEASED ON THE WEBSITE MONDAY NIGHT.
THE VOTERS ARE SPREAD OUT AROUND THE COUNTRY ALL WITH SOLID HOOPS RESUMES. SOME ARE FORMER OR CURRENT COLLEGE PLAYERS, OTHERS HAVE COACHED HIGH SCHOOL BALL AND SOME ARE JUST LIFELONG FANS. WE TRY TO LIMIT HOW MANY COME FROM THE SAME AREA AND THE ONLY DISQUALIFIER IS THAT A VOTER CANNOT CURRENTLY BE AFFILIATED (COACH, ASSISTANT COACH, OR ATHLETIC DIRECTOR) WITH ANY SCHOOL WE TRACK.

3) Who are the top teams to watch this season?
THE TOP 25 HAS JUST BEEN RELEASED. THE TOP TEN TEAMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY THUS FAR ARE:
RAMAZ - NEW YORK, NY
TARBUT V'TORAH - IRVINE, CA
HESCHEL - NEW YORK, NY
VALLEY TORAH - VALLEY VILLAGE, CA
HAFTR - CEDARHURST, NY
HANC - UNIONDALE, NY
JEWISH DAY SCHOOL - ROCKVILLE, MD
SOLOMON SCHECHTER - WEST ORANGE, NJ
YULA - LOS ANGELES, CA
MTA - NEW YORK, NY

BEING THAT THIS IS THE FIRST POLL OF THE SEASON, THESE WILL LIKELY DRASTICALLY CHANGE IN COMING WEEKS AS THE SEASON PLAYS ON.

4) Who are the top players to watch this season?
LOCALLY, IN THE NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY AREA THERE ARE TWO SPECIAL PLAYERS TO WATCH:
1. BENJY RITHOLTZ OF HANC. BENJY WAS THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME MVP LAST YEAR AS A JUNIOR. HE AVERAGED 18 POINTS PER GAME AND OVER 20 PPG IN THE PLAYOFFS CULMINATING WITH A 21 POINT PERFORMANCE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. HE WAS THE RUNNER-UP JEWISH HOOPS AMERICA NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR LAST YEAR TO EITAN CHEMERINSKI (CURRENTLY PLAYING FOR CORNELL).
2. YISRAEL FELD OF MTA IS A JUNIOR WHO IS AVERAGING ABOVE 20 PPG ALREADY THIS SEASON. AS A SOPHOMORE LAST YEAR HE WAS A TOP SCORER AS WELL FOR THE VARSITY TEAM. ATHLETIC PLAYER WHO CAN PLAY THE POINT OR SHOOTING GUARD. HE WILL BE AN EXPLOSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH THE NEXT TWO YEARS.

5) Who are the best Jewish high school players and teams you have covered?
RAMAZ IN NY SEEMS TO BE A TOP 3 TEAM EVERY YEAR. THEY ARE MORE OFTEN THAN NOT IN THE TOP SPOT OF THE POLLS. THE ONLY QUESTION YEAR TO YEAR IS WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE PLAYOFFS WITHOUT A LOSS. LAST YEAR THEY WERE UNDEFEATED THROUGH THE ENTIRE SEASON (24-0) BEFORE LOSING IN THE LEAGUE SEMIFINALS. THE YEAR BEFORE THEY WERE THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS. THIS YEAR THEY ARE RIGHT BACK UP THERE AT 8-0. TARBUT V'TORAH OF IRVINE, CALIFORNIA HAD A SPECIAL SEASON LAST YEAR, ADVANCING VERY FAR IN THEIR CALIFORNIA LEAGUE PLAYOFFS.
AS FOR PLAYERS - THE TWO MENTIONED ABOVE ARE IN ANY CONVERSATION OF GREAT PLAYERS OVER THE YEARS. I WOULD ADD TO THEM JORDAN MARCUS WHO PLAYED FOR SOLOMON SCHECHTER A FEW YEARS AGO. I BELIEVE HE IS NOW PLAYING FOR ITHACA. SOLOMON SCHOONOVER OF MIAMI, FL WAS A GREAT PLAYER TWO YEARS AGO. A 6'5 PLAYER WITH GUARD SKILLS.

6) What are your feelings about the Sarachek tournament?
I THINK THE SARACHEK TOURNAMENT IS A TERRIFIC EVENT AND A TERRIFIC EXPERIENCE FOR TEAMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THE ATMOSPHERE THEY CREATE ALONG WITH THE COMPETITION MAKES FOR A TREMENDOUS WEEKEND OF BASKETBALL. IT IS GREAT FOR BOTH YESHIVA UNIVERSITY AS WELL AS THE PARTICIPATING HIGH SCHOOLS. THEY DO A GREAT JOB OF TRYING TO GIVE THAT EXPERIENCE TO AS MANY SCHOOLS AS POSSIBLE WHILE AT THE SAME TIME KEEPING THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION UP AS BEST AS POSSIBLE.

7) What is the main goal and reason behind your site?
OUR MAIN GOAL IS TO GIVE JEWISH PLAYERS, TEAMS AND FANS A FORUM THEY CAN GO TO IN ORDER TO SPEAK THEIR MINDS ABOUT THEIR TEAMS AND SCHOOLS. A PLACE THEY CAN READ ABOUT THEMSELVES, THEIR FRIENDS AND THEIR COLLEAGUES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IN A WORD - IT IS OUR ATTEMPT TO TRY AND BRING TOGETHER JEWISH TEAMS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND UNITE THEM UNDER ONE UMBRELLA OF COVERAGE AND EXPOSURE.

Thank you yo Jewish Hoops America. Great site. We will continue to follow you and the teams on your site. For the actual site click here or on our side resources area.

And Let Us Say...Amen.
-Jeremy Fine

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