Leaders of the PAC are back

The Pac-10 Mens’ Basketball Tournament returns to Staples Center this week, and Jewish athletes Derek Glasser and Alex Pribble join their teams in the quest for the Conference Tournament Title.

Glasser, the starting point guard for Arizona State Sun Devils (8-21; 2-16 in Pac-10) averages 27.7 minutes per game, logging more total minutes this season than any freshman in the school’s history. Glasser took Artesia High School to the 2006 California State Championship Title, and the 6-foot-1 player welcomes his role as a team leader for Arizona State.

“As a point guard, leadership is a role you have to take on. You’re the one with the ball the majority of the game, trying to get guys where they need to go,” said Glasser, who sunk a buzzer-beating three-point shot on Saturday, sealing the Sun Devils’ 42-41 win over UC Berkeley.

A three-time gold medalist at the Cincinnati, Houston and Philadelphia Maccabi Games, Glasser considers the games a formative moment in his athletic and Jewish life.

“Seeing all the Jewish athletes at that level of competition was a great experience,” Glasser said.

Ranked 10th in the Pac-10, Glasser and the Sun Devils face Washington (18-12; 8-10 in Pac-10) in their first round of tournament play, in what many consider the toughest conference in the nation. The Marina del Rey native is ready to take on the challenge and is thrilled to compete in front of his hometown crowd.
“Growing up in L.A., playing at Staples Center will be an incredible experience,” Glasser said.

UC Berkley senior Pribble happily returns to Staples for his fourth Pac-10 tournament.

“Everyone is so friendly, there are fans everywhere, it’s a lot of fun,” said Pribble, who earned Pac-10 all-academic honors his sophomore and junior years
Originally a freshman walk-on, the 6-foot-4 sociology major became a scholarship player at Cal in his junior year. He now contributes key minutes off the bench and plays an invaluable role on the team.

“As a short, fairly unathletic Jewish boy, I don’t necessarily have the natural athleticism to play with these guys who are so unbelievably talented and athletic,” he said. “So my role has been more of an energy thing, coming in, playing very tough and physical defense, just trying to make a difference and bring the whole energy up on the floor.”

Though Pribble’s not observant, Judaism plays a pivitol role in his life. “It’s a moral guide, not necessarily in a ‘go to temple everyday’ kind of setting, but in a ‘know the difference between right and wrong, what to care about, what to be thankful for’ setting,” said Pribble, who played on the U.S. team in the 2006 Maccabi Australian International games and returned wanting to have an adult bar mitzvah.

Pribble and the Cal Bears (14-16, 6-12 in the Pac-10) face the Oregon State Beavers (11-20, 3-15 in Pac-10) in the tournament’s opening round. Pribble, who started the past three games, is ready for the match-up and hopes his team goes deep in the tournament. “Basketball is about working hard and putting your effort on the floor — just play ball and play hard,” he said.

The Pac-10 Tournament runs March 7-10. For more information visit Syndicating Purim