By:  | 

Former Maccabee Hired as New Men’s Basketball Coach

Last week, Yeshiva University announced that Elliot Steinmetz would take over as head men’s basketball coach for the YU Maccabees, starting next season. As reported by the YU News blog, Steinmetz, a 2002 graduate of the Sy Syms School of Business who played on YU’s basketball team for three seasons (1999-2002), will oversee all aspects of the men’s basketball program, from running practices to supporting the academic success of its student-athletes off the court. Honored and excited to have the opportunity to once again be a part of Yeshiva University basketball, Steinmetz is “thrilled to be a part of the future as we move forward with the basketball program.”

Elliot Steinmetz, new men's basketball head coach

The hiring concluded a dedicated search that took several months and attracted more than 200 applicants. As posted on the NCAA’s official hiring website, YU sought applicants who could “execute all responsibilities as a head coach in a manner that properly reflects a commitment to excellence, integrity, success and the overall mission of Yeshiva University,” and whose duties would include recruiting, program development, and organizational efforts. A 14-member advisory committee ran the search and included Yeshiva University Athletic Department directors, various alumni affiliated with basketball, and current team captain Shlomo Weissberg. The committee was chaired by Shabsi Schreier, the captain of the Maccabees from 1983-85. The committee pared down the many applicants to twelve, six, and ultimately three, who were invited for half-day interviews on campus. “Due diligence was performed on each applicant,” explains Joel Mael, vice chairman of the Miami Marlins and member of the committee. YU Director of Athletics Joe Bednarsh described that some rejections were easier than others: “Having a nickname in quotes on your resume was one way to narrow the field.”

The committee also looked for someone who could be a role model and who had previously demonstrated a winning track record. Steinmetz has that experience: he “has served with distinction as head coach of the varsity basketball team at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and of the gold medal-winning United States 18 and Under Boys Basketball Team for the Maccabiah Games in Israel.” Steinmetz also coached the varsity team at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, in addition to running JV Elite, Inc., an intense summer basketball training program for talented Jewish basketball players, for over five years. Steinmetz has coached plenty of high-level players, including Princeton forward Spencer Weisz, the current Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

After announcing the hiring, Schreier declared, “It has been a privilege to chair this esteemed and dedicated committee. I am confident that Coach Steinmetz will build upon Coach Johnny Halpert’s extraordinary legacy and take our team to the next level.” On a similar vein, Weissberg (YC ’14) said that “being a member of the selection committee was an incredible learning experience for me. I was exposed to successful professionals and an honest committee open to ideas from all. I think Coach Steinmetz was the right decision and has all the tools to continue the legacy built by Coach Halpert.”

Indeed, Steinmetz takes over the position from Coach Johnny Halpert, legend and mainstay of the basketball program for over forty years. Amassing over 400 wins and honored by YU in May 2012 with a court-naming ceremony in the Melvin Furst Gymnasium, Halpert stepped down earlier this year, as The Commentator reported, when he learned his contract would not be renewed following “a request from the President that he retire following the 2013-2014 season.”

Bednarsh acknowledges the importance of this transitional period. “We can’t ignore history, but Coach Steinmetz must ultimately take over the reins into the future [and] continue to build this program into the pride of the Jewish people.”

Returning for a third year to the Maccabees, guard Yosef Rosenthal is “excited, as Coach Steinmetz seems to be motivated and really care. I hope he can bring good things to our team.” Fans like sophomore Eliyahu Brand echoed similar thoughts: “I am happy with the hiring, and I am eager to see how next season will develop.”