|Current Ithaca guard Marc Chasin (left) and Ithaca alum Travis Warrech represented the United States at the Maccabiah Games in Israel this past summer.
Photo courtesy of Marc Chasin
Marc Chasin had a good feeling. His basketball resume was sparkling, and the tryouts had gone well enough to earn him a spot on the roster as an alternate. All he could do was wait. And wait and wait.
On the other end of the message was Doug Gottlieb, the former Division I college player turned USBL player turned well-known basketball analyst. But Chasin, a standout guard for Ithaca College, was about to get to know him as "coach." Gottlieb, the head coach of the Maccabi USA men's basketball team, had selected Chasin to represent his country at the 20th Maccabiah Games.
This year's Maccabiah Games, which take place every four years in Israel, brought together 10,000 Jewish athletes from 85 countries to compete in 45 sports over a span of 11 days in July. The Games are one of the largest sports competitions in the world, trailing only the Olympics and World Cup.
Chasin was one of just four players from a Division III school on the roster, along with 2016 Conn College graduate Danny Janel and current Amherst junior Joe Schneider. The fourth? That was Travis Warech, a team captain, 2013 Ithaca College graduate, and current professional player in Israel.
"It's kind of unique and ironic," Chasin said. "You wouldn't really think Ithaca, tiny little D-III school, would have the two of us on the team. I guess it was just a coincidence, to be completely honest, but it's still pretty cool."
Warech and Chasin never played together at Ithaca, but each knew about the other's accomplishments. Ithaca's assistant coach at the time, Jon Tanous, put the two in touch. Ithaca was the only school with two representatives on the team.
"Once we met each other in the minicamp, we became pretty tight," Chasin said. "He took me under his wing and even now we stay in touch. I would consider us to be pretty good friends."
Along with Warech, Janel and Schneider, Chasin's USA teammates also included former Cornell guard JoJo Fallas, and former California guard and current Bnei Herzliya player Sam Singer, a Miami, Fla., native like Chasin.
Chasin played for Team Miami in the 2010 and 2012 JCC Maccabi Games in Miami and Memphis, respectively, but didn't make the tryout cut for the U-18 junior team that went to Israel. He knew he wanted to take another shot when he was eligible for the over-21 team. He made that shot count.
Chasin moved quickly to secure his funding for the trip before the end of May, and by mid-June, he was on his way with the rest of the team to Westport, Conn., for a two-day makeshift minicamp in Gottlieb's neighborhood.
On June 19, the team's flight from Newark, N.J., landed in Israel, and the players settled into their accommodations at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel just outside of Tel Aviv. The hotel setting was beautiful, and the team utilized many of Israel's professional basketball arenas for practice, but the trip was anything but a vacation.
"We would wake up in the morning and practice at like 6 a.m., go back, eat, take a quick nap, then practice again at like 11," Chasin said. "By 1, we were out touring the country. We did that for about four or five days."
The practices were grueling, Chasin said, but then again, they needed to be. Not only was Gottlieb tasked with molding a team out of 12 players who, for the most part, had never played together before, but he also had to familiarize them with the international rule differences. Some were slight, like the longer 3-point line and increased tolerance of hand-checking on defense. Others were significant, like tighter traveling restrictions and the ability to touch the ball on the rim, which counts as offensive goaltending in the U.S.
Team USA gelled quickly, sweeping France, Canada, Belgium, and Mexico in pool play, and then defeating host Israel in the semifinals and France again in the gold-medal game. Warech averaged 11 points per game, including 22 in the first matchup with France, while Chasin averaged 7.2 points per game over the six games, including 19 against Canada.
As far as on-court basketball experiences go, it's hard to top a six-game stretch with an average margin of victory of 35.8 points. But for Chasin, basketball was only part of the equation.
"I got to go to Jerusalem and see the Wailing Wall," Chasin said. "We went to the beach in Herzliya, which is a little north of Tel Aviv. We went out into the desert and saw the Dead Sea. We got to see all of the ruins of Masada."
"That was probably my favorite part of the trip," Chasin added. "Obviously the basketball part was great and it was a ton of fun, but just getting to see all of those things that I've heard about throughout my whole life and just experience them was incredible."
Chasin, a senior finance major with a sports studies minor, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Warech, Singer, and others from the Maccabi USA team and play professionally in Israel after graduating from Ithaca.
But before that becomes a possibility, Chasin still has plenty left to take of in a Bombers uniform. Chasin, whose list of accolades includes ECAC Rookie of the Year, Empire 8 Freshman of the Year, D3hoops.com third-team All-Region, and multiple all-Empire 8 team nods, already ranks seventh on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,354 points. At his current pace, Chasin will finish fourth on the list, just behind 2009 graduate Sean Burton, the Bombers' top assistant coach.
If Chasin gets on a roll, and Ithaca makes an extended postseason run through the Liberty League tournament, he'll have a chance at Tod Hart's all-time record (1,789 points). After finishing a disappointing 9-16 in their final Empire 8 season, the Bombers are off to a 6-1 start in their Liberty League debut season. The foundation for a memorable final season is in place.
Basketball will always be an important part of Chasin's life, but when he reflects on his Israel experience, he is most grateful for the opportunity to connect with his Jewish faith on a deeper level.
"I've always celebrated Yom Kippur, but in terms of actually feeling attached with my faith, I kind of had lost that," Chasin said. "But when I went over there and I was experiencing all these different things that were connected with it, it made me want to be a little more religious."
Rochester women close first half on a roll
Senior Lauren Deming scored a game-high 28 points, while senior Alexandra Leslie added 19 points and nine rebounds in No. 9 Rochester's 77-67 win over Ithaca last Tuesday.
The win marked Rochester's ninth in its last 10 games, including four straight against Williams, St. John Fisher, Nazareth, and Ithaca, all postseason-caliber teams.
After winning 23 games and advancing to the Elite Eight in 2015-16, the Yellowjackets finished 18-9 and exited the NCAA tournament in the second round last season. This season, at least so far, is shaping up like a potential repeat of 2015-16 when Rochester was one of the final eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. Rochester, the preseason UAA favorite, returned four starters, a group that includes Leslie and Deming.
Rochester (9-1, 0-0) isn't in action again until Jan. 2, when it hosts undefeated local rival Rochester Tech (7-0).
SUNY Geneseo women resume SUNYAC dominance
Freshman Natalie Alfieri scored a game-high 17 points and junior McKenna Brooks scored 11 points as four of SUNY Geneseo's five starters reached double digits in points in a 73-45 rout of Plattsburgh on Dec. 9.
Geneseo improved to 8-1 overall and 4-0 in SUNYAC play, with the last two wins against Plattsburgh and Potsdam coming by a combined 73 points. The Knights finished a perfect 18-0 in conference play last season with a starting lineup of five seniors. All five are gone this season.
But being younger doesn't necessarily mean taking a step back. Three of the Knights' top four scorers are underclassmen, and SUNY Geneseo is still talented enough to win the SUNYAC.
Top 25 roundup: Rochester men drop
The Rochester men's team fell seven spots to No. 22 in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25 poll. Skidmore held steady at No. 16, while Cortland also received votes.
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