On a Thursday night in November, an otherwise disappointing Liberty Football season came to a close. It ended on a high note though, as the Flames dispatched their biggest rival, and a top-5 opponent in Coastal Carolina. The crowd was electrifying for the nationally televised match up. Truth be told, the student section was amazing all season. Liberty has earned a reputation for having one of the very best student sections in the country, at any level, and for good reason.
Williams Stadium has become an intimidating place to come play football. The Flames went undefeated at home this season, and saw 2 top-10 teams fall to defeat there. The crowd has become a part of that. So we know Liberty students and fans are capable of being early, being loud, and wearing red. All Liberty fans deserve credit for the atmosphere that has been created.
Knowing this, and watching our men’s basketball team pull off a great win to a largely empty student section on Tuesday night made me kind of sad. The program has struggled mightily over the past several seasons, so a lack of enthusiasm is understandable. However, this season’s turn around, led by second time first year Head Coach Ritchie McKay, has been remarkable. The team is a contender in the Big South after being picked last in the league…by far. Let that sink in. These players, and this coach, deserve Liberty fans’ support.
The possibilities are endless. The ceiling is so high. If Liberty students would put even half of the students that attend football games in the seats, the Vines Center would be the toughest place to play in the Big South. If those half put even half of the effort and enthusiasm into the games that they do for football, that weird looking roof would blow off of the place. Liberty has the potential to be one of the best atmospheres in all of mid-major basketball.
The players are out there exceeding expectations. They are on the court giving 110%. It’s obvious if you are watching. Coach McKay is going to put Liberty Basketball on the map in a way that hasn’t been previously achieved. The resources are there. The coaching is there. The team is winning games, and will only improve over the next few years. Liberty can be a basketball school. The Vines Center can be to basketball what Williams Stadium is to football. The only thing missing is you.
LU used to be a basketball school. It can be again and I believe it will be. However, we have been so bad for so long, it may take a little longer to get the butts back in the seats. Hoping it will be sooner than later.