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Liberty Accepts Invite to 2017 Paradise Jam
Liberty basketball has accepted an invitation to play in the 2017 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands next season. The tournament will begin on Friday, Nov. 17 and last through Monday, Nov. 20. Liberty will kick off the tournament, playing Mercer in the opening game.
"I have had the pleasure of being a part of this tournament before and I can tell our fans and supporters that will travel to this event will absolutely love it," head coach Ritchie McKay said. "We are thankful to be a part of this tournament because it provides us the opportunity to play against some high major programs."
The tournament will take place at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The Flames will participate in three games beginning with Mercer. The eight-team field also includes Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Quinnipiac and Wake Forest. Out of the eight teams competing in the tournament, Liberty posted the most wins this season (21) along with Houston.
The 2016 tournament had two postseason qualifiers in Ole Miss, earning a No. 5 seed in the NIT, and this year's champion, Creighton, qualifying as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. The 2017 field features four teams that played postseason basketball this past year including the Flames. Wake Forest appeared in the NCAA Tournament while Houston and Colorado qualified for the NIT.
"From the day I arrived at Liberty, we wanted to be on the same stage as the best programs in the country," McKay added. "To be afforded the opportunity by the Paradise Jam speaks volumes to the quality of players we have and where our program is going."
McKay has experience coaching in the Paradise Jam back in the 2011-12 season when was the associate head coach at Virginia. The Cavaliers went 3-1 with wins over Drexel, Drake and Green Bay. Past participants include a Final Four team this year in South Carolina as they won the 2015 Paradise Jam. Liberty will be the third team from the Big South to play in the tournament and its first team since 2014 when Gardner-Webb made the trip. The Big South is 5-7 all-time in the Paradise Jam with Winthrop (4-5) winning four of the games.
For more information on the Paradise Jam or if interested in attending the tournament, click here.