The Liberty Flames men's basketball team was selected to finish 11th in the Big South Conference standings for the 2015-16 season, as voted on by the conference's head coaches and members of the media. The announcement was made Monday at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charlotte Uptown as part of the 2015-16 Big South Basketball Media Day.
Ritchie McKay returns as Liberty's head men's basketball coach for the 2015-16 season.
After spending the previous six years working under Tony Bennett as associate head coach at Virginia, McKay is back at the program's helm where he served as head coach during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
McKay's Flames will feature a number of new faces along with returners Calvin Hoffman, Ryan Kemrite, Evan Maxwell, A.C. Reid and Ezra Talbert. Liberty's lineup includes six newcomers – Hansel Atencia, Lovell Cabbil, Marquette transfer John Dawson, Bradley transfer Anthony Fields and Ryan Hiepler.
The voting panel tabbed High Point (320 points) as the preseason favorite. The Panthers hold a 19-point margin over two-time defending Big South Champion Coastal Carolina (301). Winthrop (281), Radford (188) and Gardner-Webb (187) make up the rest of the top five. Rounding out the remainder of the preseason poll are Longwood (172), UNC Asheville (164), Charleston Southern (140), Presbyterian (132), Campbell (119) and Liberty (42).
High Point's John Brown was tabbed the Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Along with Brown, the Big South Preseason All-Conference first team includes Coastal Carolina's Elijah Wilson, Presbyterian's DeSean Murray, Gardner-Webb's Tyrell Nelson and Winthrop's Keon Johnson.
The preseason second team consists of Longwood's Lotanna Nwogbo, Coastal Carolina's
Badou Diagne, High Point's Adam Weary, Winthrop's Xavier Cooks and Campbell's D.J. Mason.
Liberty will begin the 2015-16 season with four straight home games, opening the year with Covenant on Nov. 13, followed by Summit University (Nov. 14), William & Mary (Nov. 17) and Central Penn (Nov. 21). The Flames will travel to Radford on Dec. 3 for their first of 18 Big South Conference tilts this season.
The 2016 Big South Men's Basketball Championship will span March 3-6, with the winner earning the Big South's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. The tournament location will be announced in November.
2015-16 Men's Basketball Preseason Poll Rk. Team (first-place votes) - Points 1. High Point (17) - 320 2. Coastal Carolina (10) - 301 3. Winthrop (3) - 281 4. Radford - 188 5. Gardner-Webb - 187 6. Longwood - 172 7. UNC Asheville - 164 8. Charleston Southern (1) - 140 9. Presbyterian College - 132 10. Campbell - 119 11. Liberty - 42
2015-16 Big South Conference Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team First-Team John Brown, High Point (Preseason Player of the Year) Elijah Wilson, Coastal Carolina DeSean Murray, Presbyterian Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb Keon Johnson, Winthrop
Second Team Lotanna Nwogbo, Longwood Badou Diagne, Coastal Carolina Adam Weary, High Point Xavier Cooks, Winthrop D.J. Mason, Campbell
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