Ritchie McKay poses with former Liberty Basketball players after the Second Annual Basketball Alumni Game.
The men's basketball program celebrated Homecoming Weekend at Liberty with two events for fans at the Vines Center. On Friday night, following the volleyball team's win over High Point, 14 former members of the Liberty Basketball program participated in the Second Annual Basketball Alumni Game. The players were split up into two teams, Red and White, and fans were treated to their heroes of yesteryear under the lights of the Vines Center. Current Liberty assistant coaches Dale Layer and Brad Soucie served as coaches for the squads, and Layer's Red team cruised to an 80-64 victory over Soucie's White squad. Layer used an innovative coaching technique, with six minutes remaining in a close contest, when he implemented the 3-2-1 zone. The unaware officials did not catch Layer's good humor when he sent six players onto the court after a media timeout. Fans in attendance were treated to the return of Brett Badgett (1990), Matt Hildebrand (1991-92-93-94), Ezra Hill (1977, 1984), Jeff Simmons (1977-78-79-80), Louvon Sneed (2000-01-02-04), Erik Sorensen (1995-96-97-98) and Harry Williams (2003, 2005), all members of the winning Red team. Hill was the first Liberty player to be drafted by an NBA team, when the Phoenix Suns selected him in the 10th round of the 1984 draft. The White team was made up of Kenneth Anaebonam (2000-01), Daniel Curbison (?), Ed Gomes (1974-75-76), Mark Manley (1999-2000-02), Tim Mann (1991), Paul Nazigian (1987-88-89-90) and Tim Scarborough (1987-88-89-90). "It was great seeing the alumni," said head coach Ritchie McKay. "Many of the guys I had heard of or read about, so it was great to finally meet them. I especially enjoyed the [Matt] Hildebrand bombs, Louvon's [Sneed] Magic Johnson like game and the surprisingly impressive dunks by Mark Manley. I enjoyed connecting with them and having our players interact with such an important part of the basketball program." On Saturday morning, prior to the Flames' Homecoming football victory over Presbyterian, the 2007-08 men's basketball team played a controlled scrimmage in the Vines Center, which was open to the public. Keeping in the spirit of Homecoming, one of the officials for the scrimmage was Mark Chafin. A collegiate referee in the area, Chafin played for the Flames from 1975-1978, and sits in fourth place on the Flames' all-time scoring list with 1,947 points. The scrimmage consisted of three different game situations and various factors. One situation consisted of starting the clock with 14:50 left in a game, and one team trailing 50-35. Another situation saw two big men down low, with Alex McLean and Russell Monroe in the post together. Fans also saw TeeJay Bannister slowly working back into a practice setting, as well as Anthony Smith and B.J. Jenkins displaying their athletic prowess. Sophomore Kyle Ohman was firing on all cylinders from outside the arc, and Monroe was showing he is a viable option in the post.
"Russell Monroe and Armon Jones played well," said McKay. "We will continually work on getting better so we can be ready when the season starts in two weeks." The Flames open up the regular season on Nov. 9, versus San Diego State, in Fresno, Calif., as part of the World Vision Classic.
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