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New York - Yeshiva University's Head Basketball Coach

Published on: March 17, 2010 01:12 PM
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New York - ‘If you really want to learn how to coach, lose.”

So says Jonathan Halpert, who should know.

Halpert was just named the Skyline Conference’s 2009-2010 Coach of the Year and is currently finishing his 38th season as Yeshiva University’s head basketball coach - the longest serving coach in the metro area.

The NCAA Division III Maccabees finished the season with a 12-14 record.

Nothing takes the sting out of a loss, Halpert said, but what’s more important is what you do afterward.

“Losing forces you to learn how to really teach, how to motivate, organize, and prioritize,” he said. “It teaches you how to run a practice.”

Halpert has spent his entire basketball career at Yeshiva, from high school to now. He played for the late, legendary coach Bernard (Red) Sarachek, a major influence in his career.

“Red stressed the fundamentals: move without the ball, cut, move,” said Halpert. “That was where I learned my basketball and how I still teach.

“I’m always yelling, ‘Stop at the foul line, stop at the foul line! You never run a fast break without stopping at the foul line and looking to hand the ball off for the layup.

“I’ll take a player out of the game if they don’t stop at the foul line,” he said. “That’s what I was taught, that’s fundamentals, that’s basic basketball.

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“Kids come here the first year and they don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. A new kid gets on the court, he dribbles, he kicks it down the court, he shoots a three.

“I say to the new kid, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? If you can’t make four passes before you shoot the ball you can go home.”

It’s an unconventional philosophy in the age of in your face, one-on-one basketball, and Halpert’s coaching techniques are in the same vein.

For instance, the team practices four times a week, two hours each time, and that’s just fine with the coach.

“We can’t practice Friday night, the Sabbath, God took care of that,” he said. “I don’t know how popular I would be if I started Saturday night practices. They do have a social life.

“With the academic work load here, you could not go more than four a week if you wanted to,” Halpert said. “These guys take a double program, with Hebrew studies in the morning and secular studies in the afternoon.

“Frankly, at this level, I don’t think you should be practicing more than four times a week. After four nights of practice, I’m tired of the kids and I’m sure they are tired of me yelling at them.”

Halpert was 27 when he was named coach of Yeshiva’s varsity team. He was still in high school - and playing for the Yeshiva team - when he started coaching the Yeshiva junior varsity team in the early 1960s.

Halpert enrolled at Yeshiva Elementary school shortly after the family moved to the school’s Washington Heights neighborhood from the Bronx when he was in fifth grade.

The family has its own legacy with the school. Halpert’s father, Max, started there as a personal secretary to the school’s then-president Bernard Revel.

“He learned to type Hebrew in Israel, and when he immigrated here his father got him the job as the president’s personal secretary,” Halpert said. “There has been a Halpert at Yeshiva University since 1939.”

Max Halpert went on to be a major fund-raiser for the university.

Halpert and his brother Daniel were both athletic, though Daniel had a childhood bout of osteomyelitis which limited his aspirations.

Halpert fell in love with basketball, listening to Knicks games at night and practicing with rolled up socks and a hoop on his bedroom wall.

A graduate of Yeshiva schools straight through college, Halpert was named a Daily News City All Star in 1965.

He was captain of the university team when he was offered the junior varsity head coaching position, which he took in 1967, winning two JV championships over his five years as coach.

He was named varsity coach in 1972.

The father of five (Tzippora, Ariella, Tzofit, Yuhuda and Rafi) and grandfather of 17 met his wife, Aviva, on a camp basketball court and married while still in college.

They live in Flushing.

Halpert may also be one of the smartest coaches in the country, holding a master’s degree in Special Education from New York University and a doctorate in Special Education from Yeshiva’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1978.

He’s amazed and appreciative to have stayed on the job all these years - longer than friend Lou Carnesecca of St. John’s University.

“It just means I’m more stubborn than he is,” Halpert said.

Halpert also longs for the one thing missing from his resume - a conference championship.

“I want it, badly,” he said.


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Read Comments (14)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 17, 2010 at 01:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Very encouraging. Let's bring this to the heimishe oilam - our kids deserve a little boost in self esteem.

2

 Mar 17, 2010 at 01:59 PM NETS FAN Says:

well I know how it feels to lose I and I dont in any way think that Kiki Vandeweghe should win coach of the year>

3

 Mar 17, 2010 at 02:24 PM Anonymous Says:

BH many heimishe boys are going to yu these days.

4

 Mar 17, 2010 at 02:43 PM Simcha Says:

Anon #3, there have always been many heimishe boys in YU. I guess it all depends on your definition of "Heimishe".

5

 Mar 17, 2010 at 03:05 PM Anonymous Says:

what is not mentioned are Halpert's wonderful midos and the great kiddush hashem he creates by his behavior on and off the basketball court.

6

 Mar 17, 2010 at 03:08 PM Anonymous Says:

Such bitzal zman. I don't understand why they legally are allowed to have the word Yeshiva in their name. Its a misrepresentation.

7

 Mar 17, 2010 at 03:28 PM Yu bochur Says:

KOL HAKAVOD!!!!!! YU ROCKS!

8

 Mar 17, 2010 at 04:01 PM Isn't it ironic..... Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Such bitzal zman. I don't understand why they legally are allowed to have the word Yeshiva in their name. Its a misrepresentation.

Bittul zman? As opposed to sitting on the internet and kvetching? Do you even realize how retarded you sound?

9

 Mar 17, 2010 at 04:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Such bitzal zman. I don't understand why they legally are allowed to have the word Yeshiva in their name. Its a misrepresentation.

I totally agree with you. How dare they call themselves Yeshiva for providing an organized outlet for their Talmidim! It sounds more like Amalek University.
Until they follow the true "yeshiva" way (sneaking around, smoking cigarettes and getting drunk) or the Chassidish way (going to Atlantic City gambling, getting drunk, and looking at pritzusdik women) they do not merit the usage of the name "Yeshiva."

10

 Mar 17, 2010 at 04:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Such bitzal zman. I don't understand why they legally are allowed to have the word Yeshiva in their name. Its a misrepresentation.

bitul zman? like every "break" and "lunch recess" isnt bitul zman? if the yeshivishe velt actually had more organized sports there wouldnt be so much of a need for so much extra free time. you are a fool

11

 Mar 17, 2010 at 05:42 PM NETS FAN Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

I totally agree with you. How dare they call themselves Yeshiva for providing an organized outlet for their Talmidim! It sounds more like Amalek University.
Until they follow the true "yeshiva" way (sneaking around, smoking cigarettes and getting drunk) or the Chassidish way (going to Atlantic City gambling, getting drunk, and looking at pritzusdik women) they do not merit the usage of the name "Yeshiva."

You had a good point when you said that they give a outlet to the Talmidim, and I agree with you and not #6, but the last part of what you said is way off, do you think 90% of Lakewood is in A.C.?? You can find good and bad in everything. See my mame is Nets Fan my team won 7 games this year, but I know there is allways next year!!! You see I just found the good in this season!!!

12

 Mar 17, 2010 at 06:19 PM Anonymous Says:

CHOCHMAT YAVAN!!
MODERN DAY MITYAVNIM...

13

 Mar 17, 2010 at 10:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Isn't it ironic..... Says:

Bittul zman? As opposed to sitting on the internet and kvetching? Do you even realize how retarded you sound?

i find insults in general distburing, but especially when using the word retarded. such tahor neshomos, and that's what you use as an insult?

14

 Mar 17, 2010 at 10:49 PM Charlie Hall Says:

I see the boys at a yeshiva playing basketball in my neighborhood on an outdoor court -- in their white shirts and black pants. What is wrong with that? Nobody can learn all the time and physical exercise is good. And it should be pointed out that YU is in the "play for fun" division of the NCAA in which no students get scholarships for their athletic ability. Mazel tov to Coach Halpert!

It should be noted that he is far from the losingist Jewish basketball coach; that honor (?) goes to Louis Herman "Red" Klotz, who began coaching the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association professional team six decades ago. (The name was changed in the 1950s to the Washington Generals.)

15

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