After missing last weekend’s games in Nashville against Lipscomb following a positive test for COVID-19, Flames’ head coach Ritchie McKay is out of quarantine and is back with the team.
“It’s nice to be back doing something you love, around a group of people that you love, staff and players included,” said McKay Wednesday afternoon from the men’s basketball offices within the Vines Center.
McKay has been cleared to rejoin the team in time for the Flames’ home games Friday and Saturday evening against Kennesaw State after being forced to watch Liberty take on preseason ASUN favorite Lipscomb from his home New Year’s weekend. Liberty split the two game series at Lipscomb as the Flames opened conference play with a 1-1 mark.
Liberty fell to Lipscomb, 77-70, on New Year’s Day, in the team’s first game without its head coach. In the game, the Flames trailed by as many as 24 points in the first half before cutting the deficit to three points at one point int he second half before the Bisons secured the victory.
McKay watched the first half of Friday’s game with his wife, Julie, and two sons, Luke and Gabriel, from the basement of his home in Lynchburg. After the team’s first half struggles, he moved to his bedroom for halftime and remained there as the Flames made their run.
“I tried to stay in the bedroom as long as I can, not that I’m superstitious,” McKay said. “We didn’t get the desired outcome. The second night (Saturday), Julie and I just watched it from our bed because both of us by then were not feeling great, and that was a lot easier to endure.”
The Flames controlled Saturday’s game and cruised to a 66-50 win behind 20 points from Darius McGhee as Liberty evened its conference record through the first weekend of play. McKay said he began by watching the game while listening to Liberty’s radio broadcast with play by play announcer Alan York. Ultimately, he had to switch to the TV broadcast as his family was getting confused due to the delay in the radio broadcast.
With McKay back on the sidelines, Liberty is scheduled to play Kennesaw State at 6 pm Friday and 5 pm Saturday with both games played at Liberty Arena on the Flames’ campus in Lynchburg. The Flames were originally scheduled to host FGCU this weekend; however, the Eagles have not started league play after it was forced to postpone last weekend’s games against North Alabama and this weekend’s contests at Liberty after positive COVID tests and contact tracing. Liberty and Kennesaw State were originally scheduled to meet in Lynchburg on Jan. 22 and 23.