Last year, Liberty announced it’s full 2019-20 schedule on July 18 and the ASUN announced the men’s basketball conference schedule was announced on July 9. Yet, we sit here today on July 24 and do not have either.
Obviously, a big reason for that is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several games for the Flames this season have already made their way to the public, but we are still awaiting the full schedule and what would be the opening game in the brand new Liberty Arena.
“Non-conference scheduling has come to halt,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said Wednesday. “I think because of the uncertainty and the fluidity of when the season would start and how differently one week is from the next. We’re waiting on a couple signatures, but for the most part we would be finished if the season were allowed to start as it would (normally) be. We won’t announce it publicly until we get all those contracts signed.”
The games we do know about, which are all subject to change obviously, are trips to Vanderbilt (11/17), Notre Dame (11/20), Radford (12/5), and Missouri (12/9). The Flames also have a neutral site game in Charlotte against East Carolina scheduled for Nov. 13 and a two-game tournament at High Point against Eastern Washington on Nov. 23 and then either Monmouth or High Point on Nov. 24. Liberty is also expected to host Morgan State on a date to be announced.
Missouri series a big opportunity
The scheduled Missouri game in December is the first of a three game series where the Flames will travel to take on the SEC team this season and again on Dec. 7, 2022. The Tigers will visit Lynchburg on Dec. 2, 2021.
“That was a tremendous scheduling opportunity for us,” said McKay. “When you have an SEC team come into your building, I think it’s rare for a mid-major to be afforded that opportunity. I’m thankful that Coach Martin and Jim Sterk, their Athletic Director, signed off on that.”
Sterk was the athletic director at Portland State in 1996 when McKay was hired in his first head coaching job.
Former Flames looking to play professionally
We could see all four departing seniors end up playing professionally. Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz has announced he will be playing for Panteras de Aguascalientes, a Mexican professional basketball team. Scottie James has already competed in TBT and will likely get an opportunity, as will Myo Baxter-Bell.
Caleb Homesley could end up on an NBA roster next season. If he does, he will be the first player who finished their collegiate career at Liberty to reach the NBA since Peter Aluma played in 2 games with the Sacramento Kings during the 1998-99 season. Of course, Seth Curry, who began his career at Liberty before transferring to Duke, is currently playing for the Dallas Mavericks.
“Caleb has been marvelous,” McKay said. “We talk on an almost daily basis. He’s back in Charlotte right now working out. He’s had a bunch of interest from a bunch of NBA teams. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know he will be playing and he will be playing for what could be a lot of money one day.”