TIB Newsletters

November 2020 TIB Newsletter

Dan Aronovic - Monday, December 14, 2020

Lior Garzan,

Villanova University


Head Coach Denise Dillon Earns Win in her Villanova Debut

Lior Garzan Scores 11 in first game

VILLANOVA, PA. – 11/25/20
The Villanova women's basketball team opened the 2020-21 season in fine fashion on Wednesday afternoon, with a convincing 70-37 win over the visiting Rider Broncs. With the victory, Denise Dillon earns her first win as head coach of the Wildcats.
The Wildcats used the early spurt to take a 16-5 lead after one quarter. Villanova held Rider to just 2-of-11 shooting from the field, including an 0-of-5 effort from three-point range in the game's first 10 minutes.
The Wildcats put the game away in the third quarter when Villanova went on a 12-2 run over the last 6:38 to take a 52-27 lead after three. Five Wildcats scored in the spurt, including Siegrist with four points, freshman Lior Garzon  (Raanana, ISRAEL) with a three-ball, freshman Bella Runyan and senior Brianna Herlihy with two points each and Mortensen chipped in with a free throw.
Siegrist led the way in the win with a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds. She was 13-of-19 from the field and 2-of-5 from three-point range. Garzon was the second Wildcat to reach double figures with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting (3-of-4 from long distance). Herlihy added eight points and eight rebounds, while James dished out a game-high six assists.
For the game, Villanova was 30-of-57 from the field (52.6%), 8-of-20 from three-point range (40.0%) and 2-of-4 from the foul line (50.0%), while Rider shot 25.0 percent from the floor (12-of-48), 5.9 percent from long distance (1-of-17) and 75.0 percent from the charity stripe (12-of-16). The Wildcats owned a 40-26 advantage on the backboards.

Albany Volleyball Signs Four

ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany volleyball program and head coach Josh Pickard have announced the signing of four new student-athletes to join the team starting with the 2021-22 season.
"Our 2021 class is shaping up to really help in a lot of ways," said head coach Josh Pickard.  We are adding depth, athleticism, court sense and a whole host of other valuable attributes.  I can't wait to get these athletes on campus training with our team.  We have a great class of young women who will help continue our success here at UAlbany."
The four newcomers, including Oren Abutbul from Israel, will join a UAlbany squad that won the 2019 America East title, the program's first since 2011, and sixth conference championship overall.  Last season's team also featured five America East All-Conference and two All-Academic standouts.
Oren Abutbul | OPP | 6-1 | Zichron Yaakov, Israel (Hof HaSharon)

Quick Facts: Player with a vast amount of high level and international volleyball experience. She has played in the Israeli Premier League since 2017 with clubs: Maccabi Hadera Hefer and Maccabi XT Haifa. Oren competed with the Israeli Junior National Team in the U18 European Championships in 2017 and U20 European Championships in 2018. In 2019, she was called up to the Israeli National Team, which finished 3rd in the European Silver League in Romania.
Pickard on Abutbul:  Oren continues our recruiting reach outside our borders. She's an athlete that started a bit later but has taken to the game and climbed the ranks in her national team structure very quickly.  We are excited to have someone with her character and ability join our team. Her international volleyball experience will be an asset to the team.

Maine's Women's Basketball Selected First in America East Preseason Poll

Carroll, Millan, Saar earn America East Preseason All-Conference selections


    Dor Saar, University of Maine

Orono, Maine -- For the third consecutive season, the University of Maine women's basketball team has been selected first in the America East Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the league on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Maine also received three selections to the America East Preseason All-Conference team with Maeve CarrollBlanca Millan, and Dor Saar (Ma'anit, ISRAEL) each earning a spot on the squad.

The preseason poll and all-conference team were voted on by the league's ten head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.

The Black Bears received six of the league's 10 first place tallies, positioning them at the top of the league with 78 total votes. Stony Brook earned the league's remaining four first place nods, and 76 total votes, to check in second in the preseason rankings. The Seawolves were followed by UMass Lowell (62) and UAlbany (54). Binghamton and UMBC (43) tied for fifth in the poll while Vermont (36), Hartford (24), New Hampshire (23) and new league member NJIT (11), rounded out the 10 team field.

Maine, which earned three of the five Preseason All-Conference slots, is the first school since Boston University in 2010-11 to earn three or more selections to the Preseason All-Conference team.

Maine returns a wealth of talent and experience to this year's team, headlined by former America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Blanca Millan. The Black Bears, who will return over 80-percent of their scoring from a year ago, will also welcome back the 2019-20 America East Rookie of the Year, Anne Simon, along with 2019-20 All-Conference selections Maeve Carroll and Dor Saar.  Maine also welcomes five freshmen to this year's roster, all who will look to develop and contribute in 2020-21.

Last season, Maine finished 12-4 in league play after wrapping up the year riding the nation's eighth longest win streak after stringing together 10-straight wins to earn a spot in the America East title game for the fifth consecutive season.

Dor Saar, who beings the season ranked fifth on Maine's all-time assists list at 411, averaged a single-season career-high 12.2 points in 2019-20. Saar, selected to the America East All-Conference Second Team as a junior, ranked second among league leaders with 4.9 assists a year ago. 




MCCC Alum Arad Mishkal Follows His Hoop Dream to Yeshiva University


New York – It’s 8 p.m. but Arad Mishkal is only partway through his day. The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) alumnus leans over his desk into his webcam for our conversation, taking a break from his schoolwork.

For the last month, Mishkal has been taking virtual classes at Yeshiva University in New York City from his home in Israel. The seven-hour time difference means his body clock is effectively reversed. Mishkal’s latest class ends at 1:30 a.m. Israel time, well after the rest of his family has gone to sleep.

“I’m making the best of it,” Mishkal says, alluding to the fact that most of his work comes after sunset. As an international student who came to MCCC to play basketball, Mishkal is used to pushing through tough situations.

Originally from the small village town of Kfar Tavor, Mishkal dreamt of going to America. While attending Wizo Nahalal High School, he participated in a basketball academy that allowed him to play for the school while being a student. Once he graduated, he began his three years of mandatory Israeli armed forces service and started mapping out a plan to make the jump from Israel to the United States.

“I was working with a guy named Dan Aronovic who tried to help me find a school in the U.S,” Mishkal says. “After a long process we found MCCC. Coach Levy saw my tape and he liked it. I’m grateful to Dan for all that he did for me.”

Mishkal took his first step onto American soil in December 2018. He arrived without a family or housing.

“I was lucky enough to have some support from the Merkovitz family - Mark, Wendy, Max, and Sam - who live in Princeton,” Mishkal says. "They are an amazing family who helped so much. Mark works for the Jewish Federation of NJ, so the connection was created from there. They gave me everything and helped me acclimate to the new culture. I'm still in touch with them today. I’ll never forget all that they did for me." 

Mishkal stayed in Princeton for a month until he could move into the dorms at Rider University through MCCC’s partnership with the nearby school.

Over the next few months, Mishkal eagerly completed courses in MCCC’s computer science program while training for the 2019-20 basketball season. Though he recalls experiencing culture shock, his connections with Levy, Merkovitz, Neria Weiss a friend from Israel who studied at Rider university and Eial Marzouk, another Israeli student-athlete at Mercer, eased the transition.

“Culturally, he was dropped into a completely different environment, but he took it in stride,” Levy says. “He’s a hard worker, a great student and cared so much about everything.”

Mishkal noted that Mercer’s faculty also made sure he was set up for success.

“My English 101 Professor Michael Biehl was amazing,” Mishkal says. “All of my advisors and professors cared so much about my success.” Ultimately, Mishkal's hard work culminated in an National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Academic All-American award for the 2019-20 basketball season.

In addition to the language and cultural barriers, Mishkal said that playing “American basketball” came with its own learning curve.

“Israel isn’t like the U.S. The universities here don’t offer the option of being a student-athlete. You can do it separately by playing a sport on any team outside of the college while you study.” Mishkal explains. “Leagues in Israel might have players in their 20s through their 40s. The game is more tactical. So, you have to play smarter, because your opponents have much more experience than you.”

Conversely, Mishkal found college basketball at Mercer to be a faster, more athletic game.

“The attitude around the game in America really sets it apart from Israel,” Mishkal says.

For Mishkal, the expectations set by Levy also came to define his basketball experience at Mercer.

“Coach Levy is a tough coach, but has a great personality," Mishkal says. “He helped so much when I arrived. I knew that whatever Levy expected of me would help me become better player. I appreciate that Levy opened the door for me and helped me to make my dreams come true.”

Though he only spent a single basketball season at MCCC, Mishkal’s connection to Levy and the program was the impetus for his transfer to Yeshiva University.

With Levy’s help, Mishkal got his highlight tape in front of Elliot Steinmetz, Yeshiva University’s basketball coach.

“As soon as he saw Arad’s tape, Elliot was like, ‘That’s why [Arad] plays that way, he went to Mercer,’” Levy says with a chuckle. “Yeshiva likes to play a similar style to us, and Arad is a great fit for that. He does all the little things. He’d run through a wall for you.”

Excited as he is to eventually return to the court, Mishkal is equally thrilled to connect with his fellow Yeshiva students in New York.

“Yeshiva is a great school. They have a great computer science track. The basketball program is seventh in the country and the team won its conference twice in the last three years, " Mishkal says. "Last year, they went to the Sweet Sixteen but COVID-19 cancelled the season.

"There is also a strong community of Jewish students, which is important to me and will help me feel at home. The coaches and admissions staff are great and very caring. I’ll get to celebrate holidays and meet people just as I would in Israel, all while having access to one of the greatest cities in the world,” Mishkal says.

As an added bonus, Mishkal is attending Yeshiva on a 90 percent scholarship, which means he’ll be able to graduate virtually debt free.

Though he believes graduate school is in the cards, Mishkal wants to make a run at playing professional basketball. He’s seen the success of Israeli basketball players firsthand – he knows Matan Simantov, an Israeli-born MCCC basketball alum and agent for Deni Avdjia, the projected top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

He also knows the odds are against him – there have only been four Israeli NBA players in the league’s 74-year history – but the tenacity he developed as an international student means he’s not easily shaken from his goals.

“When you are an international student, you really need to want it,” Mishkal says. “When you decide you want to come to the U.S. to play a sport or get your degree, you need passion for that.

It’s a long process, so you need to be brave. When you see the whole picture and put the emotions to the side, you realize how many benefits and tools you can earn for life. It makes you a better person and athlete.

Most of all, Mishkal is appreciative of all that MCCC provided him, including a home-away-from-home during his time in the U.S.

“I want to say thank you to everyone. From the Mercer athletic department and admissions, to my professors and coaches Levy and Steinmetz who opened the door for me to make my dream come true," Mishkal says. "Thank you for your patience and the help in achieving my goals.







           Map of Israeli Students in the US




Who We Are: 

Ross Greenstein, former Scholarship for Athletes President and Founder of The Israel Bridge

Dan Aronovic, Head of Operations, The Israel Bridge

Our Vision: 
The Israel Bridge will work to be the largest resource for connecting and developing relationships between Israelis and Americans.

Current activities: 
Finding athletic scholarships for deserving Israeli athletes in the US. We have helped over 180 athletes attending schools like Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, University of Washington, Cal-Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Maryland, UNLV, Rutgers, Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, University of San Francisco and many others.

Visit our website for more info:




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