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McKay Announces 2008-09 Schedule

August 20, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Anthony Smith was the only guard in the Big South a year ago to connect on at least 50 percent of his field goal attempts. Smith accomplished this while setting Liberty's 5th best three-point success rate, and breaking school records for three-point field goals and attempts.

Anthony Smith was the only guard in the Big South a year ago to connect on at least 50 percent of his field goal attempts. Smith accomplished this while setting Liberty's 5th best three-point success rate, and breaking school records for three-point field goals and attempts.

Complete 2008-09 Men's Basketball Schedule

Games against Clemson, Virginia, George Mason and the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic highlight the 2008-09 Liberty men's basketball schedule, as announced by head coach Ritchie McKay.

"Our 2008-09 schedule came together very well," said McKay. "I was excited we were able to create some balance in our schedule, however with an inexperienced team that will have seven freshmen, we will have some major challenges during the non-conference portion of our schedule, which ultimately will accelerate our growth process."

McKay and his staff will open up the 2008-09 season at home on Nov. 14 against NAIA member Montreat. The contest will be played at 9:15 p.m., due to the Liberty women's basketball team hosting VCU at 7 p.m. in the WNIT.

(L-R) Anthony Smith, Kyle Ohman, Jeremy Anderson and Tyler Baker are the four scholarship players who return for the Flames.
The Flames will then hit the road for two straight games, including opening conference play for the third straight year at UNC Asheville on Nov. 18, before traveling up Highway 29 to Charlottesville to play at Virginia on Nov. 25. The contest at Virginia will be the Flames' eighth all-time meeting with the Cavaliers and the seventh straight season Liberty will face a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Liberty has faced a current member from the ACC every season since the 1991-92 campaign except for one. That lone year was the 2001-02 season.

McKay and company will return home over Thanksgiving weekend to host the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. The Flames will square off against NCAA Division II squad Coker on Nov. 28, while Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) member William & Mary will play South Carolina State in the other opening tilt. The tournament will conclude on Nov. 29, as the winners of each game square off against each other, while the losers do the same.

"I am excited about the tournament we are hosting with two up-and-coming programs in William & Mary and South Carolina State, as well as the inclusion in the tournament field of the traditionally strong Division II Coker program," commented McKay.

Liberty will then play host to 2006 Final Four participant and CAA member George Mason on Dec. 1, before hosting its conference home opener against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 6.

(L-R) Johnny Stephene, Carter McMasters, Brolin Floyd, Bill Weaver, Seth Curry, Jesse Sanders and Austin Smith make up Liberty's version of the "Magnificent Seven". Liberty's seven freshmen make up a Top 50 recruiting class from Basketball Times.
"By having a program like George Mason come onto our home floor, a team that captured the hearts of college basketball fans everywhere during its Final Four run just over two years ago, we have helped our team by giving them a chance to experience some tough games, preparing us for a very difficult conference slate," remarked McKay.

The Flames will immediately hit the road on Dec. 7, when they take on their second ACC team of the season in the Clemson Tigers. The matchup with the Tigers will be the fourth all-time in program history, and first since the 2002-03 season. The contract with Clemson includes the Tigers making a return trip to the Vines Center, marking the first ACC school to play the Flames in Lynchburg. Virginia Tech played in the Vines Center prior to their ACC days.

"Adding Clemson, which was a late addition to the schedule, gives us two ACC teams and when you include George Mason and the teams we play in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic, we are really making a push to test our young guys early in hopes to prepare us for a regular-season run in the Big South.

NCAA Division II member Anderson comes to the Vines Center on Dec. 15 for the Flames final home game before the New Year.

McKay will take his squad away from the Vines Center for the next four games as part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic. The first two contests will be played at home sites, before moving to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Flames open tournament play up in Chicago at Big East member DePaul on Dec. 17. This will mark the first different Big East opponent the Flames will face this decade. Liberty has played Seton Hall three times this decade, most recently at the BYU Holiday Classic in December 2006.

Liberty continues play in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 19 at St. Louis against Rick Majerus' Billikens squad. The game will be played in the brand-new 10,600-seat Chaifetz Arena.
The Flames will then travel to Las Vegas for two games at the Orleans Arena. On Dec. 22 Liberty will face Southern, and based on the outcome of that game, will face either Northern Colorado or USC Upstate on Dec. 23.

Liberty will return to the Vines Center after Christmas to host NAIA member Cincinnati Christian on Dec. 28.

The Flames will resume Big South Conference play when they travel to face four-time defending Big South champions, the Winthrop Eagles, on Jan. 3. The road trip continues as the Flames make their first trip to Clinton, S.C., since the 1978-79 season to face new conference foe Presbyterian.

Charleston Southern visits the Vines Center on Jan. 10, followed by Coastal Carolina on Jan. 12. Liberty stays in the Commonwealth, traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Lexington to face the Keydets of VMI on Jan. 17. The Flames then head down to High Point on Jan. 20, before returning home for three games.

Radford comes to Lynchburg on Jan. 24, followed by High Point on Jan. 27 and UNC Asheville on Jan. 31.

Liberty travels to Gardner-Webb on Feb. 4, before returning home to host Winthrop on Feb. 7 and Presbyterian on Feb. 9.

The Flames then make the beach tour, traveling to Charleston Southern on Feb. 14, followed by a game at Coastal Carolina on Feb. 16.

VMI comes to the Vines Center for "Senior Night" on Feb. 24, and the regular season concludes on Feb. 28 at Radford.

The Big South Men's Basketball Championship begins with the quarterfinals on March 3 at the home of the higher seed. The semifinals, which will be broadcast on ESPNU, will be played at the site of the regular-season champion on March 5. ESPN2 will broadcast the championship game on March 7 at the home of the highest remaining seed. The NCAA Tournament starts March 19-22, with the first two rounds being played at various locations across the country.

"Having coached in the Pac 10 before, I know the challenges of playing an 18-game conference schedule," said McKay. "I think playing the likes of traditional powers like DePaul, St. Louis and Virginia will be stiff road tests that will prepare us for those obstacles of a long and grinding conference schedule."

The Flames Television Network (FTN) will broadcast the majority of home contests, including all Big South Conference games. The FTN telecasts may also be viewed LIVE via the Big South EDGE.