Team: Liberty Flames
Conference: Atlantic Sun
Current Record: 20-5
Coach: Ritchie McKay
Coach Profile: McKay’s been all over. He was an assistant at Virginia and well as a head coach at Portland State, Colorado State, Oregon State, and New Mexico. He’s led them to 59 wins and a pair of A-Sun Tournament titles over the past two seasons and a 12-5 upset over Mississippi State in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
What Makes Them Special?
They were the best team by far in the Atlantic-Sun last year, but the core of that team is gone and the Flames have just kept it going. The Flames are a disciplined team that take their time and work for great shots on offense. They’re the 9th slowest team in the country in terms of tempo. They tire teams out and it’s led them to have the 4th highest effective field goal percentage in the country (57.5%); behind only Gonzaga, Purdue-Fort Wayne and Baylor. They are top 15 in the country in both 2 and 3-Point percentage too.
They love the three-ball; only seven teams in the country get a higher percentage of their points from three. They won’t force many turnovers and they don’t have great size, but they won’t throw possessions away (lowest turnover percentage in A-Sun) and they’ll make you work. These are the kind of teams that can cause some trouble in the tournament.
Darius McGhee may be only 5’9, but he can be a prolific scorer for the Flames. Only two members of the Flames have even attempted more threes than McGhee’s made. Chris Parker and Elijah Cuffee join McGhee in the backcourt. The front court is a combination of Blake Preston, Keegan McDowell and Kyle Rode. Although the front court isn’t the tallest, those guys can stretch the floor (Preston is the only one who won’t shoot the three).
The Flames have won nine games in a row and look to be the pick to come out of the Atlantic-Sun this year. They did get a few notable non-conference wins against Mississippi State and South Carolina early on. They’ve faced Missouri, TCU and Purdue too, they won’t be scared of any high-major team in the Tournament.
Liberty Flames 2020-21 Player Stats