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Flames Return Home from Successful Canadian Tour
The Liberty men's basketball team returned home this week after a successful preseason exhibition tour in Canada over Labor Day weekend.
The Flames won both their games against two Canadian collegiate teams, Brock University and the University of Guelph. The Flames beat Brock University, 79-77 on Saturday. Brock, a strong three-point shooting team, rode the trey on their way to a 81-72 victory over NCAA D-I North Florida on Sunday. Liberty was victorious over the University of Guelph on Sunday, 85-56, a score very close to LSU's 92-60 victory the evening before against the same Gryphons squad.
In addition, the NCAA allows a program, every four years, to participate in a trip abroad. Big South foe, Winthrop, made a similar trip to Australia in preparation for last season.
The NCAA allows teams who are participating in such an event, 10 full days of practice to prepare. "I really thought our team did a nice job of playing unselfishly and playing with great effort," said head coach Ritchie McKay. "With just 10 days of practice, it's impossible to get your system in, but we were able to see some of the things that we were trying to emphasize during practice manifest itself on the court during the trip."
Liberty was led by Anthony Smith, who led the team with 21.0 points per game, while grabbing 6.5 rebounds and dishing out 3.5 assists per game. Alex McLean averaged 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. B.J. Jenkins scored 9.5 rebounds a game while dishing out 5.0 assists. TeeJay Bannister was also had a strong weekend, scoring 9.5 points per game and collecting 5.5 assists per game, after sitting out much of the first half of the Flames' contest against Brock in foul trouble.
"I thought Alex [McLean] and Anthony [Smith] played really well," said McKay. "We got some great minutes from TeeJay [Bannister], B.J. [Jenkins] and Kyle [Ohman] as well."
The Tour of Canada involved a little sightseeing, adding to the team's bonding experience. After their victory over Brock University, the team took the famous Maid of the Mist boat tour of Niagara Falls on Saturday evening.
"The trip was valuable in terms of bonding and having a chance to see one of God's beautiful creations, Niagara Falls, in addition to being hosted by two quality institutions," commented McKay.
All of Liberty's Tour of Canada information, including a day-by-day photo blog, official stats and stories, are available on the Tour of Canada page which can be accessed by clicking here.