Liberty (1-0) will play its initial game against a Division I opponent this season on Friday as the Flames play UNC Charlotte in the “He Gets Us” Hall of Fame Series. This will be a great early season test for the Flames against a strong mid-major program. Liberty cruised to a 103-43 win in the opener against Mid-Atlantic Christian but the competition ramps up considerably this weekend.
Here’s what you need to know about the game:
How to Watch
4:30 p.m. ET | Friday, November 10
Charlotte, NC | Spectrum Center
Liberty vs Charlotte Odds (KenPom)
Spread: Liberty -4
Projected score: Liberty 68, Charlotte 64
Liberty Projected Starters
#0 Colin Porter
Sophomore Guard | 5’9″, 170
9 ppg, 5 apg, 66.7% 3-point
#3 Kaden Metheny
R-Junior Guard | 5’10”, 170
5 ppg, 2 apg, 5 rpg
#23 Joseph Venzant
Junior Guard | 6’3″, 200
4 ppg, 9 rpg
#22 Kyle Rode
R-Senior Forward | 6’7″, 220
9 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg
#25 Zach Cleveland
Sophomore Forward | 6’7″, 215
13 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 bpg
Liberty vs Charlotte History
This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs.
Liberty vs Charlotte Storylines
When Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay was hired by the Flames from Virginia for his second stint in Lynchburg, he brought with him several members of the UVA coaching staff including Vic Sfera. Serving as an assistant coach for Liberty for two seasons, Sfera left to join Ron Sanchez at Charlotte.
Sanchez was an assistant coach for the Cavaliers before taking over the 49ers program ahead of the 2018-19 season. Sanchez, Sfera, and the rest of the staff installed the similar Packline defensive system for Charlotte. Sanchez was Charlotte’s head coach for five seasons before heading back to Charlottesville as associate head coach this past off-season.
Meanwhile, Sfera remains on staff at Charlotte as an assistant coach, now serving under Aaron Fearne who was promoted to head coach following Sanchez’s departure.
LINGERING QUESTIONS FOR BOTH SIDES
There are questions for both teams entering this season. Liberty is without one of the program’s best all-time players in Darius McGhee while Charlotte is with a first-year head coach.
The 49ers opened the season on Monday with a 69-52 win over Maine. They are coming off a season where they finished 22-14 overall and 9-11 in Conference USA play (before moving to the AAC this summer). Charlotte finished the season by winning the postseason CBI, defeating ASUN member Eastern Kentucky in the final, 71-68.
Liberty opened against a non-Division I opponent and not many questions were answered in that game. Friday’s matchup against Charlotte will start to answer some of those questions.
One of those will be what the team’s rotation will look like, at least early in the season. We know the five starters plus Shiloh Robinson and Brody Peebles will be in the mix, who else will be included?
UNCC TRANSFERS, SIZE TO TEST FLAMES
Charlotte boasts transfers from USC, Rutgers, Virginia, Washington State, and Missouri State.Their starting lineup boasts two players at 6’10” and 6’11”.
6’11” forward Dishon Jackson transferred to Charlotte prior to this season from Washington State. In three years in the PAC-12, Jackson made 49 appearances and 19 starts for the Cougars. In the season opener against Maine, he had 13 points and 4 rebounds while making 6 of 12 field goal attempts in 26 minutes played. His 12 field goal attempts led the team.
6’10” forward Igor Milicic is a transfer from Virginia. He started 22 games for the 49ers last year, averaging 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. In Monday’s win, Milicic had 9 points and 8 rebounds.
Jackson Threadgill led the team with 38 minutes played against Maine on Monday. The team’s top defender, the 6’6″ wing had 8 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Threadgill started all 36 games for Charlotte a year ago.
6’3″ guard Nik Graves led the team in scoring against Maine with 15 points. He did not miss a shot, making all five field goals, both three-point attempts, and three free throws.
6’2″ guard Lu’Cye Patterson scored 11 points in the opener to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. The Missouri state transfer started 25 games at Charlotte last year, averaging 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.