Thank you for submitting your questions and continue to send them in and we will be happy to answer them in our next feature. You can send them to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, or as a comment on the site. With Liberty men’s basketball just two weeks away from tipping off the 2021-22 season, this week’s mailbag focuses on the Flames under head coach Ritchie McKay.

Coach McKay has always preferred to use the redshirt when able to allow the incoming freshmen the ability to learn the defensive system and get adjusted to the game. Of course, sometimes the talent is just too great to keep them off the floor as we have seen previously with Darius McGhee, Kyle Rode, Shiloh Robinson, and others. Of the four incoming freshmen, Brody Peebles and Joseph Venzant will play, no question about it. We could look back at the end of the season and say that combo is easily among the top five players on the team.

The two most likely to redshirt are DJ Moore and Bryson Spell. Remember, Moore enrolled at Liberty a year early and is supposed to still be in high school this season. McKay would certainly prefer to redshirt him provided the other guards (namely Drake Dobbs and Peebles) afford him that luxury. As for Spell, he has the talent to contribute immediately, but the Flames are fairly deep in the front court with Rode, Robinson, Blake Preston, and Micaiah Abii. Provided there aren’t any long-term injuries, Spell is a strong candidate to redshirt.

There are a couple of obvious answers to build the starting five around – Darius McGhee, Kyle Rode, and Blake Preston. McGhee and Rode started every game last season while Preston started the majority of the year. Those three are virtual locks to be penciled into the starting lineup. After that, McKay has several options he could turn to. Drake Dobbs seems to be the most obvious choice as the next starter seeing as he was the top reserve at point guard last year as a true freshman behind Chris Parker. As mentioned above, freshmen Brody Peebles and Joseph Venzant could also work their way into the starting lineup, if not by opening night certainly as the season progresses. Shiloh Robinson is another that will play starter’s minutes whether he’s in the first five that opens the game or not. For game one against Regent, it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see McKay go with three small guards in Dobbs, McGhee, and Peebles alongside Rode and Preston in the starting lineup.

Size will continue to be an issue when Liberty goes up against the Power Five opponents on its schedule as it is for nearly every mid-major in the country. Blake Preston is listed as 6’9″ and he just doesn’t have the athletic ability to matchup against P5 bigs that are already bigger than him. At 6’7″, Rode is the perfect four-man for a mid-major, but again length and athletic ability will be a challenge against top 25 type teams. Shiloh Robinson and Micaiah Abii, who are both listed at 6’7″, won’t overwhelm any P5 team with their length, but they might be better matchups for the Flames against teams like LSU and others the team could see this season. It’s just a reality for the typical mid-major when they go up against some of the better teams in the country.

I have heard that the team is getting new threads this year.

It’s one thing for your wife to be embarrassed, but please make sure you stay in the stands and don’t embarrass everyone else!

If there were ever a Liberty head coach that I would predict will finish his career with the Flames, it would be Coach McKay, but I won’t go on record saying that. We all would love for him to finish out his career on the Mountain, but who could blame him if he got an opportunity to compete for National Championships somewhere that he could also call home. Of course, Coach McKay has mentioned recently that he thinks Liberty can be built into competing for National Championships. I do know that McKay has turned down Power Five jobs over the past couple of years to remain at Liberty.