The 2014-15 Liberty Flames basketball season will go down in the history books as one of the worst in school history. The Flames finish the year 8-24 overall and 2-16 in Big South play following their 80-70 setback to UNC-Asheville in the first round of the Big South Tournament on Wednesday. The 24 losses are the 2nd most in school history, as the 2001-02 season finished with 25. The 16 conference losses set a school mark and tie the Big South record for the most in a season.
It was a season where the Flames continually faced setbacks. It even started before the season when two of Coach Layer’s recruits, Stavian Allen and Braxton Bonds, failed to make it on campus for the first day of classes in August. Then, after starting the season 2-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the Flames’ lost leading scorer and captain Tomasz Gielo to a stress fracture in his foot. It would cost him the entire season, and it would take Liberty 15 games to beat a Division I foe without Tomasz. The next trial was Ezra Talbert succumbing to a back injury and having to sit out the season. A broken nose for A.C. Reid cost the freshman 3 games, and he was never able to adjust to shooting with the facemask on after he returned. The hits kept coming after the calendar turned to 2015 when the Flames lost its best playmaker and starting point guard Joe Retic to a broken foot. Retic would miss 12 games and Liberty would go 1-11 without him in the lineup. Retic’s replacement at point guard, Peter Moller, left the team in early February to return to his native Denmark to be with his ailing mother.
That’s 7 players who were originally thought to be part of the 2014-15 team that missed some, or all, of the season.
Despite having an 0-12 start in Big South play, losing 20+ games for the 3rd consecutive year, and losing all fan support, this team never gave up on each other. They kept fighting until the final whistle came against Asheville on Wednesday. That’s not something most teams would do given those circumstances.
We will all spend the next several hours, days, and maybe weeks wondering what will happen with the coaching staff. We’ve already shared our opinion on the matter, but the decision ultimately rests with Athletic Director Jeff Barber. Will all these setbacks give him a reason to keep Layer around for the final season on his contract? Or will the 3 consecutive 20 loss seasons be too much to overlook?
I think we all can agree we’re happy to see the 2014-15 season come to an end.