Apr 7, 2009

Basketball Recap

by Jordan LoSasso

 

It is not over until Seth Curry transfers.

 

That is the story of the men’s basketball team as its season ended with the official announcement of Curry’s release after the team was ousted from the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT).
Soon to follow was the declaration of McKay’s departure for an associate head coaching job at the University of Virginia (UVa).
Despite this disastrous news that swept Liberty’s campus and that left the basketball program in disarray, the Flames season had its moments to remember.

An invitation to the CIT marked the first time in program history that the team was invited to a postseason tournament. They advanced to the semi-finals before being knocked out of the tournament by James Madison University, 88-65.

The aspirations of postseason play were ignited with a hot start to the season for the Flames. The Flames caught fire in their first nine games, compiling a record of 7-2, surging during an impressive stretch of wins. The Flames defeated UVa, William & Mary and George Mason and came within three minutes of defeating the nationally ranked Clemson Tigers.

After the 7-2 start, though, the Flames were 16-10 and suffered their two worst defeats of the season. In the Bracket Buster game on ESPNU, Liberty lost 80-56 to Old Dominion and followed with a disastrous 109-72 home loss to conference foe VMI.

Liberty then advanced to the Big South Conference Tournament as No. 3 seed and lost to No. 2 VMI in the semi-finals.

McKay claimed, before his resignation to accept the job at UVa, this season has stood out compared to his other 12 seasons as a head coach.

“I’m not saying this to just say it, but this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons in my coaching career,” McKay said.

Several Flames were selected for postseason awards. Curry, who led the nation’s freshmen in scoring, was selected for the second team all-conference team and named Big South
Freshman of the Year. Senior Anthony Smith earned first team all-conference honors, and freshman Jesse Sanders was named to the all-freshmen team.


In women’s basketball, chemistry was key.

“Our strength was our chemistry. We relied on each other on and off the court,” senior Megan Frazee said. “You can have all the athletes and talent in the world, but if they don’t get along, they’re not communicating and not playing well with each other, then they’re not going to be successful.”

The Lady Flames needed that chemistry to escape a 3-7 start to the season, which was plagued with injuries, to finish 24-9. That adversity allowed the team to be successful for the remainder of the year and enabled Liberty to grow together as a team according to Coach Carey Green, who has been the staple of the Lady Flames for the past 10 years.

After the 3-7 start, Liberty began to get healthy and Frazee returned to the lineup from an ankle ailment that sidelined her for eight games. Her arrival sparked a 23-2 run that led to a Big South Championship and a trip to Baton Rouge for the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Selection Committee gave Liberty a No. 14 seed, and slotted them against No. 3 Louisville. Both teams felt disrespected with the seeding.

“What I’m disappointed and disgruntled with was that I didn’t think Louisville or Liberty was given a true evaluation in seeding. I thought we were better, and I thought they were better,” Green said.

Liberty lost to Louisville 62-42 and was haunted with 27 turnovers.

The Lady Flames suffered with turnovers for most of the season, averaging more than 20 per game.

“We weren’t able to control our emotions and make good decisions which consequently took away from good offensive execution,” Green said.

Along with chemistry, Liberty relied on rebounding and defense for success. The Lady Flames finished second in the nation in rebounding.

“Our strengths were communication and chemistry, and the ability to rebound and defend,” Green said.

Major awards for the Lady Flames include Big South Player of the year for Megan Frazee, and Coach of the Year for Green.

After graduating seven seniors, including the Frazee’s and Rachel Hammond, the Lady Flames will never be the same.

“You can never replace the individuals. You just build a different team,” Green said.

 

 

Contact Jordan LoSasso at
jlosasso@liberty.edu

 


 


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