The Jewish Sport Report: What Duke coach Jon Scheyer means to the school’s Jewish community


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Good morning, Jewish Sport Report readers!

March is truly a sports fan’s dream: Pretty much every sport is either in season or in the exciting part of its offseason, and we have March Madness and the World Baseball Classic as added bonuses.

More on both of those exciting tournaments below.

Duke coach Jon Scheyer is a source of pride for the school’s Jewish community

Left: Duke University men’s basketball coach Jon Scheyer lights the Duke Chabad’s Hanukkah menorah in 2022. (Courtesy Rabbi Nossen Fellig) Right: Scheyer stands with his predecessor, Mike Krzyzewski, inside Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Courtesy Duke Men’s Basketball Team)

Duke University is a No. 5 seed in March Madness this year, and has a serious shot at making a run for the NCAA title.

That’s thanks, in part, to head coach Jon Scheyer, who in his first season coaching his alma mater led the Blue Devils to a 26-8 record, becoming the most successful first-year coach in the school’s history. Duke also just won the ACC tournament.

For the campus’ Jewish community, Scheyer — who as a player once went by the nickname “Jewish Jordan” — is a source of pride.

“Coach Scheyer is such a role model to me, being a young Jewish man myself with aspiring hopes and dreams in basketball,” said Dylan Geller, a student manager of the team. “Seeing him do it so successfully, he’s definitely been a big inspiration.”

We spoke to Jewish students, faculty and staff at Duke about their famous head coach.

Halftime report

CAN WE NOT? Students at an elite school in Istanbul, Turkey, performed the Nazi salute during a soccer game against Turkey’s only Jewish school this week. Turkish Jewish leaders say they are taking action.

TO EACH THEIR OWN. New Ottawa Senator Jakob Chychrun has a very, let’s say unique, diet, including raw liver and beef heart. Hey, whatever works. He explained his lifestyle in an interview this week.

RED CARD. The BBC briefly suspended its top soccer host, Gary Lineker, for comparing Britain’s immigration policy to the Holocaust. Many of Lineker’s colleagues protested the decision, while others criticized his analogy. More on the drama here.

Some final thoughts on the World Baseball Classic

Garrett Stubbs, Ryan Lavarnway and Noah Mendlinger

Garrett Stubbs, Ryan Lavarnway and Noah Mendlinger played for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. (Courtesy)

I’m back after an exhilarating trip to Miami for the World Baseball Classic, where Team Israel competed against some of the world’s top teams.

The results weren’t necessarily pretty for Israel — the men in blue and white went 1-3 with two 10-0 mercy rule losses with a combined one hit. But there were certainly some highlights — from Orthodox phenom Jacob Steinmetz’s gutsy performance against the Dominican Republic to an impressive come-from-behind victory against Nicaragua.

Before we close the book on the 2023 WBC, here’s a full recap of our coverage. As always, thanks for reading.

Israel played a total of six games in Florida: an 11-5 exhibition game loss against the Miami Marlins, a 9-0 exhibition game win over the Washington Nationals, a 3-1 comeback win against Nicaragua, a 10-0 hitless loss to Puerto Rico, a 10-0 loss to the Dominican Republic (i.e. The Jacob Steinmetz Game) and a 5-1 loss to Venezuela.

Off the field, Israel held a ceremony with the Dominican team to promote friendship between the two countries and emphasize their shared commitment to standing up to hate.

We spoke to a number of Team Israel fans who traveled to Miami from near and far to cheer the team on. “It’s part of our heritage,” one fan told me.

We offered a deep-dive into Team Israel’s recruitment process and how it put together the most talented roster Israel has ever had.

And in case you missed it, I hosted a fun event about Jews and baseball with a panel of Jewish baseball experts, reporters and former players. You can watch the video here.

Oh, and stay tuned for one final piece — on the charming Israel Baseball Twitter account, that kept the hits coming even when the players struck out.

Jews in sports to watch this weekend


Rowdy Tellez’s Team Mexico has advanced to the WBC quarter finals, where it will face Puerto Rico, tonight at 7 p.m. ET on FS1. Over in Spring Training land, Atlanta Braves prospect Jared Shuster and Baltimore Orioles/Team Israel pitcher Dean Kremer are both on the mound for their teams this afternoon.


Jon Scheyer’s Duke men’s basketball team will face No. 4 Tennessee tomorrow at 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS in the Round of 32. And Auburn University, led by Jewish coach Bruce Pearl, takes on No. 1 Houston tomorrow night at 7:10 p.m. on TBS. Abby Meyers’ No. 2 Maryland plays its first game this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET against No. 15 Holy Cross on ESPNews.


Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll looks to follow-up his strong start to the Formula One season at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Enjoy March Madness, and we’ll see you next week.

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