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Men's Hoops Picked Sixth In Preseason Big South Poll: Listen to Audio With Ritchie McKay From Media Day
The Liberty Flames were selected to finish sixth out of eight teams in the Big South Conference for the 2007-08 season, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, sports information directors and members of the media. The announcement was made Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, N.C., as part of the 2007-08 Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon.
Liberty is coming off a 14-17 season and a third-place finish in the Big South. The Flames went 8-6 in conference play a year ago, after being picked to finish fifth in last year's preseason poll.
New head coach Ritchie McKay returns a solid group of players from last season, headlined by senior Alex McLean and junior Anthony Smith. McLean averaged 14.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a junior. McLean's rebound mark was good for second in the conference behind Big South Player of the Year, Arizona Reid of High Point. Smith averaged 11.4 points per game as a sophomore, after being named to the Big South All-Freshman team during his first campaign on Liberty Mountain.
High Point (216) edged out three-time defending conference champion Winthrop (214) by a narrow margin to be tabbed preseason favorite to win the conference championship.
The voting panel agreed on the top two choices, but spots three through six were closely bunched. VMI (147) was picked to finish third, while Coastal Carolina (134 points) was picked to finish in the fourth position. UNC Asheville (119) found themselves picked fifth, with Liberty (108) in the sixth position.
Charleston Southern (63) and Radford (43) rounded out the preseason poll.
Reid of High Point was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year after becoming the first player in conference history to average 20 points and nine rebounds in one season. Rounding out the Preseason All-Conference team were Reggie Williams of VMI, Michael Jenkins and Chris Gaynor of Winthrop and Jack Leasure of Coastal Carolina.
The first day of practice for the Flames is slated for Friday. Liberty opens up its exhibition season on Nov. 5, when the Flames take on Barton at the Vines Center at 7 p.m. The contest will serve as preparation for the regular season opener against San Diego State at the World Vision Classic, hosted by Fresno State, Nov. 9.
2007-08 Big South Conference Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Arizona Reid, High Point, Sr., F, 6-5, 205 - Gaffney, S.C.
Reggie Williams, VMI, Sr., F, 6-6, 195 - Prince George, Va.
Michael Jenkins, Winthrop, Sr., G, 6-3, 195 - Kinston, N.C.
Jack Leasure, Coastal Carolina, Sr., G, 6-3, 185 - Rochester, N.Y.
Chris Gaynor, Winthrop, Sr., G, 5-10, 164 - Winston-Salem, N.C.
2007-08 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
Rk Team (first-place votes) Points
1. High Point (15) 216
2. Winthrop (14) 214
3. VMI 147
4. Coastal Carolina 134
5. UNC Asheville 119
6. Liberty 108
7. Charleston Southern 63
8. Radford 43