smithThis is the first part of our 2013-14 season recap/2014-15 season preview where we discuss what we have returning.

Drew Smith
Smith blew up during his junior season posting career-highs across the board. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting a team-high 62% from the field. These numbers are up from his sophomore season where Smith averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. His minutes increased as the season progressed, finishing the season averaging over 20 minutes played per game. As his minutes increased, so did his production. In the final 17 games of the season, Drew averaged 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as he became an integral part of Liberty’s rotation. His biggest area for improvement will be from the charity stripe where he shot just 58% for the season. Another question mark for Drew, is what position will he play next season? He’s played the 4 for the large majority of his first 3 seasons, but he could be pushed to the 5 due to necessity.

Tomasz Gielo
Gielo took another step forward in his junior season, leading the team in minutes while increasing his scoring production to nearly 11 points per game. Tomasz successfully switched from playing primarily the 4, to the starting 3 man this season as he shot 40% from 3, the highest percentage of his career. He also increased his rebounding to nearly 6 boards a game up from 4.5 during his sophomore season. Can he continue to develop his game into the Flames’ primary offensive weapon and become a leader for this team on the court?

Retic looks to become a permanent starter next season

Retic looks to become a permanent starter next season

Joe Retic
Retic saw perhaps the greatest improvement in his game throughout the season. He went from playing less than 15 minutes per game to a starter playing over 30 minutes a game by the end of the season. Liberty’s only true point guard on the roster finished the season averaging 4.8 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. Those numbers were much higher over his final 8 games of the season where he averaged 8 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Joe shot just 42% from the field and 35% from 3, and demonstrated little confidence in  his shooting touch. His shooting percentages did improve over the final 3 games where he shot 56% from the field and 2-for-3 from 3.

Sommy Ogukwe (transferring)*
Since tearing his ACL prior to the 2011-12 season, Ogukwe has had a difficult time returning to his pre-injury athleticism. This past season, he was relegated to riding the pine behind a deep frontcourt rotation. Sommy played in just 10 games averaging only 4 minutes per game in those contests. Now that all the other bigs on the roster have moved on, will Ogukwe be able to carve out a role for himself?

Chad Donley (transferring)*
Donley’s production dropped off significantly this season from his first year at Liberty in 2012-13. He averaged 3.2 minutes per game in the 16 games he played. Having a reputation as a 3-point specialist, he has only shot 30.5% from behind the arc in his first 2 seasons at Liberty. His lack of playing time has led many to wonder if he will stick around for his senior season.

Wesley Alcegaire
Alcegaire saw limited time in 20 games in his redshirt-freshman season. He made 11 of his 17 attempted field goals and knocked down 1 of his 3 3-pointers. Due to his limited playing time, we’re not really sure what we have with Wes, but at 6’5″ and with his athleticism, he could develop into a solid defender. If you can play defense in Layer’s system, you can find time on the court.

Ethan Layer
Before missing the end of the season due to a back injury, Layer played 8 minutes per game in 19 games. He shot 28% from three-point range on the season. Layer is a 3-point specialist who is best in a limited role off the bench.

Devon Pekas (not returning)
A walk-on guard who played in 10 games as a freshman.

*updated 3/23/14