For the very first time, the Milken Varsity Basketball team made the trip to Memphis, Tennessee to enter in the Cooper Invitational Basketball Tournament. The three-day tournament was comprised of the top 16 Jewish day school basketball teams in the country and they competed in a single elimination tournament. The Wildcats were clearly underestimated, going into the tournament as the seventh seed, but finishing in third place. In the game for third place, the Wildcats came back from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter against the home team, the Cooper Yeshiva Maccabees. Although Milken did not win the tournament, the coaches believe the entire trip had a positive impact on the team.
“We are so far ahead of where we were last year. Chemistry-wise, this trip solidified the bond these guys have for one another” said Coach Whiting.
The trip was about much more than playing basketball. Jewish basketball teams from across the country shared Shabbat together, prayed together, and learned about each other’s Jewish traditions. Aaron Harouni ‘18 had the opportunity to give a D’var Torah and share a lesson from the parsha.
He explained that it was a great Jewish experience “spending Shabbat at one of the Cooper player’s homes and it was interesting to see how different families celebrate the holiday.”
One of the many highlights of this trip included a visit to the University of Memphis, where the Wildcats met the Memphis Tigers. The Wildcats were greeted by legendary college basketball coach and head coach of the Tigers, Tubby Smith. Coach Smith actually worked with Coach Whiting and welcomed the Wildcats into one of his practices. Since Smith and Whiting used to work together, Milken was able to “see a lot of the stuff we run in practice being performed at an elite level” said Brian Pearlman ‘17.
Head of Athletics, Mr. Proctor, told The Roar that the “administration is very aware of the successful trip and will make a decision on whether the team will attend the tournament next year, this spring.” The Milken Varsity Basketball team had a meaningful trip and will now enter the 2016-2017 season as a stronger, more experienced team.