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McKay Named Ben Jobe Award Finalist
Liberty men's basketball head coach Ritchie McKay was named a finalist for the 2017 Ben Jobe award. The honor is presented annually to the top minority coach in Division I men's basketball.
McKay is one of 21 finalists after a historical season where the Flames won a school record 14 games in the Big South. In a season where Liberty faced nine teams with at least 20 wins, Liberty posted a 20-win season for the first time since the 2008-09 season, during McKay's first stint at Liberty. McKay's squad raised its level of play during conference play as they won a school record its first seven road games in the Big South. Finishing in a tie for second place in the Big South this year, the Flames had its highest finish in the Big South standings since the 2010-11 season when Liberty placed second.
Liberty challenged itself this year, with nine of the 11 opponents they lost to this season making a postseason tournament. As a result, Liberty's players elevated their game as four players received five All-Big South selections in Myo Baxter-Bell, John Dawson, Ryan Kemrite and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz.
McKay and his staff implemented a defense that was one of the best in the country as the Flames ranked 19th in Division I in scoring defense, allowing just 63.4 points per game. On offense, Liberty was also effective from the three-point line, making 9.1 three pointers per game, which ranked 37th in the country. Since Liberty has been a member of Division I, the school has posted four 20-win seasons and of those four seasons, two of them have been under McKay.
The award recipient will be announced in Phoenix, Ariz. where the NCAA men's basketball championship will take place.