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Flames Open First Week of Practice in Preparation for Labor Day Trip to Canada

August 24, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Head coach Ritchie McKay works on a defensive drill with the Flames during one of the week's workouts. Practices have taken place in both the Vines Center and the Schilling basketball practice facility.

Head coach Ritchie McKay works on a defensive drill with the Flames during one of the week's workouts. Practices have taken place in both the Vines Center and the Schilling basketball practice facility.

In preparation for the Flames' fall preseason excursion to Canada, Liberty's first week of men's basketball practice continues to run well.

Liberty is participating in a two-game exhibition schedule over Labor Day weekend in Ontario, Canada. The NCAA allows a program, every four years, to participate in such a trip abroad. Big South foe, Winthrop, made a trip to Australia in anticipation for last season.

The NCAA allows teams who are participating in such an event 10 full days of practice. Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay got the troops going on Sunday with two practices before allowing the team to take Monday off, coinciding with the first day of classes.

"I am really pleased with how much effort our guys are playing with," said McKay. "It shows a strong commitment on their behalf to help upgrade the program's desire to move to a championship level. Even though the process is in its initial stages, I am pleased with our attitude and work ethic."

After taking Monday off, the Flames held single practices on Tuesday and Wednesday before having another two-practice session yesterday. The team's next off day is slated for Monday.

Various local coaches have been invited by McKay and his staff to view practice this week, including former Providence and Virginia head coach, Pete Gillen.

The trip has provided the new coaching staff, returning players and newcomers, a tremendous opportunity to bound and get a jump start on the upcoming season.

"This trip is a big benefit, because it gives us a chance to become more of a team and have a chance to get a bond going at an earlier stage," said senior guard Tee Jay Bannister.

McKay's presence has added a very positive influence on the team. "Coach McKay is great to play for as he is really hard on us to play defense," added Bannister. "He wants us to be positive all the time and play hard without an attitude. He knows we are going to make mistakes, but that's okay as long as we try to correct those mistakes and not continue to make them. He is instilling in us when we do make mistakes, not to get down on ourselves because it shows a sign of a weakness. We need to correct the mistake and keep going."

As the week comes to a close, McKay is happy so far with the team. " I am very pleased with the newcomers. Our freshmen have a nice grasp on what we are doing and our returnees have come back in good shape, while providing sound leadership, as we prepare for our trip to Canada."