Liberty’s 2017-18 men’s basketball non-conference schedule is beginning to round into form. The previously reported game at Wake Forest was officially announced by the Demon Deacons Friday. The Flames will also compete in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands and host UNC Greensboro.
Wake Forest announced its non-conference schedule Friday which included a November 14th game against Liberty in Winston-Salem. Behind 3rd-year coach Danny Manning, the Demon Deacons advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, a first for the program since 2010. Liberty is 0-1 all-time against Wake Forest, losing the previous meeting, 81-47, on November 24, 1997.
The Flames will open play in the Paradise Jam on November 17th against Mercer and then play either Drexel or Houston in the 2nd game of the tournament. Liberty will play 3 games total while in the Virgin Islands as part of the Paradise Jam. Other teams participating in the 2017 Paradise Jam in addition to those already mentioned are Wake Forest, Drake, Colorado, and Quinnipiac.
The matchup on November 17th will be the first ever meeting between Mercer and the Flames, but there are plenty of storylines entering the game. This summer, the Bears hired former Liberty head coach Dale Layer as an assistant coach. Layer spent 6 seasons as head coach including a Big South Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013. Layer joins fellow assistant Jason Eaker on staff at Mercer. Eaker spent 7 years at Liberty as an assistant including several years under Layer. There also is the rumor that was swirling less than 24 hours before Coach McKay was hired in April 2015 that Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman was the leader in the clubhouse to replace Layer as Liberty’s head coach.
The Flames lost to the UNC Greensboro Spartans, 72-65, last season. The Spartans, led by head coach Wes Miller won 25 games a year ago and advanced to the NIT.
Liberty is looking to improve from a record-setting 2016-17 season when the program won 21 games and reached the CIT quarterfinals.