Posts Tagged ‘Mike Horn’

Of matzo ball soup, the motion offense and appeasing my mother

Saturday, October 4th, 2014
Dane DiLiegro

Dane DiLiegro

The Torah and 3-pointers; shalom and slam dunks; matzo ball soup and the motion offense – these are not associations we typically make.

Despite the role Jews played in the early years of hoops, the NBA careers of Jordan Farmar and Omri Casspi, Amare Stoudemire’s embrace of his Jewish roots, and David Blatt’s hiring to lead the most talented team on the planet, Judaism remains the least prominent of the “big three” of the Abrahamic religions on the hardwood.

However, the tiny America East Conference has seen several members of the Jewish faith play prominent roles on the court, on the sidelines, and in the huddle in recent years (and even on media row, at least in the world of “wannabe bloggers”).

While the awesomely named Levi Levine, Albany’s former captain and all-time enforcer, was not a member of the tribe, among others, the likes of Karl Fogel (head coach, Northeastern), Al Walker (head coach, Binghamton), Dan Leibovitz (head coach, Hartford), Tamir “Jewish Jordan” Goodman (guard, Towson), Dane DiLiegro (center, New Hampshire), Josh Elbaum (guard, Vermont), Mike Horn (guard, Binghamton), and Ben Resner (guard, Stony Brook) all light the menorah on Hanukkah and attend services during the high holidays. Heck, if we’re going to break it down like Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song, Ryan Stys is some percentage (a quarter? an eight? a 16th?), and Nick Billings has joined me for many a sader dinner and learned the art of Jewish guilt from my mom — that has to count for something, right?

And so, in honor of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and holiest of the Jewish High Holy Days, which spans from sun down Friday to sun down tonight (and, to appease my mother, who thinks I have no Jewish identity), OBW caught up with DiLiegro, one of the top rebounders in UNH history, who is currently playingprofessional basketball in the top league in Israel, and Horn, whose journey from end of the bench walk on to tenacious defender made him a cult hero and who is tackling the business world in New York. Here is what they had to say about what their Jewish identity means to them, and how they are celebrating the Sabbath.

Dane DiLiegro:

“Being Jewish is special to me because I get to be part of a very small group of people who are resilient and very hard-working and proud of who they are.

Being Jewish over here [in Israel], is very special to me because all the events and things that go on have extra meaning. Everything from Shabbat dinner to Sukkot is celebrated in a different way from America. It is a very special opportunity to be able to see that.

During Yom Kippur you are supposed to fast and not use any electronics. My coach warned us not to use our cars under any circumstances unless it was an emergency, because people are known to throw rocks at people who drive during Yom Kippur out here. Everyone either walks or rides their bike no matter what. Everything shuts down. I will be very cozy inside my apartment, either watching TV or playing Xbox.”

Mike Horn:

“Being Jewish means being part of something really special: It means you are part of the Jewish community wherever you are in the world. You are linked to the Jewish people from generations to generations who fought for our existence.

Throughout my life, I have been able to appreciate how important being Jewish is to me. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah helped me understand more of the Jewish religion and how lucky I am to be a part of this community. I’m so fortunate of my past family members who survived the brutal Holocaust, which is another example of why I am so proud to be Jewish. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and we are still standing strong here today. I may not be overly religious, but I do practice on the High Holy Days. (more…)

Post Season Awards: OBW All-Defensive Team

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Tommy Brenton, 6’5” 230 R-Sr., F, Stony Brook: The reigning America East (and OBW) Defensive Player of the Year, Brenton is the best defender on not only the league’s best defense, but one of the five best field goal percentage defenses in the nation. Capable of going “Revis Island” and locking down the best opposing scorer regardless of size and position, Brenton is fast, athletic, strong and super, super physical. (more…)

Post Season Awards: OBW All-Heart and Hustle Team

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – nowhere is this more true than in America East. Picking the five hardest working players in a conference that plays harder than just about any other is a daunting task, and there are roughly two dozen players deserving a place on this team. With that said, these are the five players whose guts, guile, grit, tenacity, and complete disregard for their own well-being stood out to us. (more…)

Turning on the Jets

Sunday, January 13th, 2013
Binghamton guard Mike Horn (left) and forward Jordan Reed (right) chase after Boston University guard D.J. Irving Saturday afternoon. Irving scored 16 points and BU blew out Binghamton 83-59 (photo by Sam Perkins)

Binghamton guard Mike Horn (left) and forward Jordan Reed (right) chase after Boston University guard D.J. Irving Saturday afternoon. Irving scored 16 points and BU blew out Binghamton 83-59 (photo by Sam Perkins)

(Boston, MA) – The reports of the Boston University Terriers’ demise are greatly exaggerated.

Through their first two games of the America East conference schedule, the Terriers were listless and lifeless: Holding eight-point second half leads on the road against Maine and at home against Hartford, the Terriers went softly into that good night and flat-lined down the stretch in back-to-back losses. Fast forward two games and the Terriers are alive and kicking.

They’re running, too.

After gassing America East heavyweight Vermont down the stretch in a gut-check win on Tuesday, Boston University turned on the jets and left visiting Binghamton in the rear-view mirror on Saturday in an 83-59 win.

“I was proud of the way they responded,” said Terriers head coach Joe Jones. “In the Vermont game: that was unbelievable effort. And to come back and get the job done [today]: that was big.”

The Terriers played a near perfect game, attacking the hoop off the dribble, making the extra pass to the open man, burying open three’s, pounding the ball into the post and finishing with authority above the rim. And as the game wore on, they only played harder, crisper and with more resolve.

The Terriers shot 54.5 percent from the floor (30-of-55) and 44.4 percent from downtown (12-of-27) while tying a while tying a season-high with 12 made three’s. BU dished out 19 assists, held the Bearcats to just 30.9 percent shooting from the floor (21-of-68) and won the rebounding battle 41-35.

“If we get stops and rebound and run; I don’t think there are many teams in the league that can stop us,” said Terriers’ junior guard D.J. Irving.

Irving paced four Terriers who scored in double figures with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with a game-high seven assists. Freshman deadeye guard John Papale scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and just missed his first career double-double with a game and career-high nine rebounds. (more…)

Going Down Fighting

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Binghamton forward Roland Brown and Bryant center Vlad Kondratyev battle for a rebound Saturday. Bryant won 78-56 (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Smithfield, RI) – Bryant sophomore guard Dyami Starks found the hole in Binghamton’s zone, and quickly got into one of his own: one of those zones where the hoop is as big as the ocean, and everything he shot was wet.

Starks buried his first three-pointer, and then his next, and the next, and the next. The 6’2” guard nailed his first six three-point attempts of the day, and when the dust had settled, the first-year transfer from Columbia had poured in a career-high 25 points on 6-of-7 shooting from long range, all before the first half buzzer had sounded.

“‘Hot’ didn’t even begin to describe it – it’s not like [Starks] had a decent half: he had maybe a career half; you can’t do much more than that in a half,” said Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey, “you had a shooter in a zone and that gave them a lot of separation.

“He really made some tough shots once he got it going.”

Behind Starks’ first-half fireworks, the Bulldogs went into the halftime locker room up 51-30. Starks didn’t score a point in the second half, taking just three shots after the intermission, but Bryant never looked back, romping over the visiting Bearcats, 78-56.

“We moved the ball well, we broke that zone, and we got really great shots,” said Starks. “Like [Bryant head coach Tim O’Shea] said, the game was almost over in the first half.”

Bryant shot 48.2 percent from the floor (27-of-56) and 52.2 percent from behind the arc (12-of-23), while holding Binghamton to just 36.5 percent shooting on the night (19-of-52).

“I thought we lost [Starks], and weren’t communicating well on the shooter. And then once he got going, then I don’t think he even saw the defense the rest of the half,” said Dempsey.

The Bulldogs kept high-flying Bearcats’ freshman Jordan Reed grounded for most of the afternoon. Reed came in fresh off of a 26-point, 10-rebound effort against Monmouth, and entered the game as the America East leader in both scoring and rebounds at better than 18 points and 10 boards per game. Reed, who does most of his damage on effort and athleticism plays around the hoop, finished with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds, but was a non-factor for most of the day. (more…)

2012 America East Tournament in Microcosm — Moment 3, 3/3/12: Walking-Tall

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of America East Athletic Communications

(West Hartford, CT) — Third-year Binghamton head coach Mark Macon’s press conferences are already the stuff of legend: The outspoken coach has been known to offer thoughts, insights, jokes, commentary, and stream-of-conscious detours about any and all topics related to the game played, the sport of basketball, and life in general.

Needless to say, when Macon talks, you fasten your seat-belt and enjoy the ride.

Following the two-win Bearcats all-heart, near-herculean effort in a narrow loss to top-seeded Stony Brook in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament, Macon was effusive in his praise of his team’s effort and guts. He also spent time praising the tremendous talents of freshman forward Ben Dickinson – a potential star in the making — who followed up a 21 point performance in Binghamton’s win over UMBC on the opening night of the America East tournament with 20 points in the near-upset.

But it was the smallest – and perhaps the least known — player on the Bearcats roster who drew the biggest praise, and most airtime, from Macon: walk-on Mike Horn. Macon spent more time talking about the scrappy and diminutive guard than any other topic in the entire press conference.

After praising the Bearcats’ collective group of walk-ons — Javon Ralling, Jabrille Williams, Jimmy Gray (who earned a partial scholarship this year) and Horn — for their impressive contributions during the season.

“They just give you everyting, said Macon. “They fight for this family, and I can’t be more proud of those guys They do yeoman’s work.

Macon singled out Horn specifically for his contributions.

“Let me tell you a story about Mike,” said Macon. “He is THE hardest worker on that floor every night and every practice – he gives you everything he’s got.”

That Mike Horn ever set foot on the floor at the division I level is perhaps equal parts fate and luck; cosmic karma and random chance; persistence and perseverance; and one kid’s immense love for the game of basketball. (more…)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Ugly play-in game was all that is good about the America East

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

On Thursday night, two teams boasting a combined record of five wins and 53 loses met in an empty, echo-filled arena in West Hartford. In the shadows on the outskirts of the State capital, the two lowest ranked teams in one of the lowest ranked conferences in the country faced off in front of the deserted chair backs and barren bleachers in the play-in game of the America East tournament.

The game featured air-balls and missed free-throws, blown dunks, blown leads and flagrant fouls.

The match-up between eight-seeded UMBC and ninth-seeded Binghamton was some of the ugliest basketball imaginable.

It was beautiful.

UMBC forward Jake Wasco battles Ben Dickinson and Jabrille Williams for a rebound (courtesy of America East Athletic Communications)

Thursday night’s game was all that remains good in the America East Conference – one of the last bastions of true amateurism in the increasingly dark and seedy world of college basketball. Two teams with seemingly nothing left to play for, refusing to let their seasons end. Powered by guts and heart, the Retrievers and Bearcats left everything they had on the floor, for just one more day toiling in basketball obscurity.

When the dust cleared, the Bearcats, who had crawled through a 1-28 record in the regular season, celebrated their 73 to 67 overtime win as if they had just won the league title.

Jake Wasco, a senior forward for UMBC who lost 94 games in his career, and tasted victory just 13 times during his final three-seasons, left the floor with tears in his eyes. He didn’t want it to end.

None of them did.

“It’s about winning one game and buying another,” remarked Binghamton head coach Mark Macon after the game. “To come in there where they could have put their heads down and walked away… it’s about the team and not myself.” (more…)