We had the privilege of speaking with Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw at length about the state of the Liberty Athletic program. We delved into a vast array of topics, focusing on the move of the athletic program from the ASUN into Conference USA. We also touched on several topics surrounding Liberty football, men’s basketball, and other programs on the Mountain.

This will be a multi-part series we release this week, be sure to check back tomorrow for the next part. Today’s feature focuses on men’s basketball under head coach Ritchie McKay.

Part 1: Conference USA
Part 2: State of the Department

ASOR: Men’s basketball takes arguably one of the biggest jumps in competition level going from ASUN to CUSA going from about the 20th best conference in the country to a top 12 conference, how do you think that program is positioned under Coach McKay’s leadership?

Ian McCaw: “I think they are positioned very well. We are who we are in terms of the way we play and our system and the makeup of the roster. I think it will translate very well into Conference USA which will be a very athletic league and very competitive league. Obviously, this last year they had a team go to the Final Four (Florida Atlantic), it’s going to be a high level of competition, but I think our guys are prepared for it and they’ve seen that with our non-conference schedule in past years.”

“Our non-conference schedule this year is going to be really challenging. That’s one of the things that I really commend Coach McKay and Derek Johnston, who helps with scheduling, they did a fantastic job with the non-conference schedule this year. We’re going to really be able to have some high quality games that will benefit our NET with playing teams like FAU and Charleston and the tournament that we are in. We’ve got some really high-end non-conference games that I think will really set us up well.”

ASOR: How much do you think moving into CUSA, as well as the team’s success in recent seasons, play into maybe being able to attract some more attractive non-conference games?

Ian McCaw: “I think it’s improved, I think it’s helped us. I think the fruit of that can be in our non-conference schedule for this year. The three-year series with FAU and Charleston, that’s something that shows we’re getting a lot of respect at the mid-major level as one of the top programs. Coach McKay has done a great job of being able to navigate us into some very high end MTE tournaments, as well. I feel really good about the schedule and I feel really good about the way we are recruiting. Certainly that is a program that has had a lot of success and I expect that to continue.”

ASOR: CUSA has recently announced the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be in Alabama, do you think that is a good move for the league and for Liberty? It’s different no longer having home court and instead being at a single site.

Ian McCaw: “In terms of location, I think it is very good for Conference USA because it is fairly central. Many of our fans will be able to get there – Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Kennesaw when they join the conference, Jacksonville State. It’s a good location for a central tournament. I do actually enjoy the ASUN home court, I think that’s a great reward for a positive regular season. I think if we’re going to go to a neutral site, I think Huntsville fits real well for the conference. I think our fans will travel well for it.”