The Liberty Flames men’s basketball team will open the 2018-19 season Thursday night against Maine Fort Kent. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm in the Vines Center.
The Bengals are a member of the USCAA where they advanced to the semifinals of the national tournament a season ago and compiled a 23-9 record. They played one Division I opponent last year, falling to Vermont, 90-54. This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs.
“The two scrimmages (Virginia Tech and Queens), I feel like they helped us find out a little bit more about ourselves – the negatives and the positives,” senior guard Lovell Cabbil said. “It will be exciting to put it into play against someone else, one that actually counts.”
Coach McKay and the Flames were picked 3rd in the preseason ASUN poll as the team prepares for its first ever season in its new conference home. Scottie James was named to the preseason all-ASUN team. Liberty lost to Virginia Tech, 86-70, on November 4th in the Flames’ only public scrimmage. Elijah Cuffee led the Flames with 15 points, while Scottie James and Keenan Gumbs had 13 apiece.
“I’m really excited to get the season underway,” McKay said. “I like our team a lot. I think this is a group that it’s easy to be optimistic about simply because we have experience – we’ve gotten a little bit older – we have talent, but a high level of character. Not saying we will go undefeated or not face our share of adversity, certainly we did that last year especially in January, but I do think that this team has the wherewithal to maybe endure a dry patch with a little bit better process methodology. I’m excited. I think our newcomers have blended in well and I really like our returners.”
Cabbil is just 2 points away from 1,000 for his career. He’s expected to be joined in the starting lineup on opening night by Cuffee, James, Gumbs, and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz. Perhaps the first man off the bench will be Caleb Homesley who averaged 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game last year. Those numbers were down from his pre-injury stats during the 2016-17 season when he was averaging 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.
“I want to incorporate myself as a 2-way player,” Homesley said of his personal goals for this season. “Right now, everyone sees me as an offensive player. I can pass, score, rebound, and do it all. I have spurts where I play really good on defense, but I want to do that consistently.”