NEW YORK (JTA) – Watching Rebecca Yoshor in action for the Yeshiva University women’s basketball team, the skills are evident: the shotmaking, quickness, leadership and court smarts.
They are skills honed in what her father describes as “fierce games” with her brothers and the neighborhood kids in the driveway of her Houston home and playing for the city’s Beren Academy, where Yoshor joined the modern Orthodox school’s varsity as an eighth-grader among high schoolers.
At Y.U., the senior forward is leading not just the team but the nation – all divisions, men and women – in rebounding with 16.0 per game, one more than anyone else in Division III.
The lean 6-footer also has more blocked shots, 34, than her Maccabees teammates combined and is second on the squad in scoring with an average of 15.7 points, despite occasional foul problems that send her to the bench.
Yoshor’s rebounding prowess, her coach and teammates say, comes from superb positioning and strength. Her dad, Daniel, says it’s her hunger for the ball, but adds she could be even more dominant by getting nastier and tougher on the court.
“While I do have to work hard for every rebound I get, rebounding is absolutely a team thing,” she says, explaining that teammates boxing out help pave the way to the boards.
Led by Yoshor, Y.U. has improved markedly from a season ago, says coach Nesta Felix. While the Manhattan school’s record stands at 5-11 overall and 1-4 in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference heading into this week’s final two games, the second-year coach says the Maccabees are far more competitive than last season.
That, she says, indicates improvement and offers hope.
Yoshor says it’s all about the team.
”It’s really cool,” she says of the rebounding lead, “and now that it’s been called to my attention, it’s something I’ll be proud of the rest of my life. But I do everything I can to help the team — and if good stats come my way, that’s fine.”
Yoshor isn’t just succeeding on the court.
She was named recently to the Academic All-America team for New York-area Division III schools by the College Sports Information Directors of America. That means Yoshor, who maintains nearly a 4.0 grade point average as an English major and psychology minor, could be selected to one of the national Academic All-America squads to be announced this week; she was a second-team selection in 2012-13.
Her studies aren’t just in the classroom.
As she grew taller and better at basketball, Yoshor says, she began paying close attention to other players, absorbing details on how they excelled on both ends of the court. It’s a habit that continues today.
Someone playing her tough when she posts up? Yoshor will draw the opponent outside and drive past her.
“They might be showing you something you haven’t seen before,” she says. “It’s the player you play against who forces you to evolve. As long as you play, there’s development. You have to be open to changing – in everything, but it’s definitely true in basketball.”