Just a warmup
Flames scrimmage as season nears
Junior forward A.C. Reid gave the Red team the advantage they needed to triumph over the Blue team, 38-37, during the Liberty men’s basketball preseason scrimmage Oct. 28 at the Vines Center.
“We still have the competitive nature against each other, but this was a chance for us to play for the fans,” Reid said.
To begin the men’s basketball season, Coach Ritchie McKay split the roster in half for the Red v. Blue scrimmage to give both fans and commentators a glimpse into the season.
“This team cannot be dissuaded by mistakes,” McKay said.
“However, this is a really compliant group. They will do whatever I ask them to do.”
The scrimmage was divided into two 12-minute halves to leave time for Mckay to ask each one of the players a question or two in front of the crowd.
After this short Q&A portion, the players went to the Vines Center concourse to sign autographs for fans.
“This team is fun to support,” McKay said.
“The neatest thing about this group is that they fit the university. I love guys that want to be at Liberty — because it’s Liberty — a Christian school.”
SB Nation predicted Liberty to finish second in the Big South Conference due to the performance of senior guard John Dawson and the coaching abilities of McKay.
“I do not put much stock in preseason polls, but this is definitely a compliment,” McKay said.
“We haven’t had the chance to do much as a program yet, so I will wait until the final ranking before I give an evaluation.”
Both teams were neck and neck throughout the game.
However, when the Red team was down by two with seconds left in the second half, Reid was fouled on a deep three-point field goal attempt.
His three successful shots finalized the score with the Red’s 1-point advantage.
“We committed to the defensive end,” Reid said. “That is where we will hang our hats this season, and that is what is going to take us over the edge against opponents.”
Although Reid spoke highly of the defensive end, his offensive strength and decision-making created 17 points for the Red team.
“We need to lock in and never take plays off,” Reid said.
“When we take plays off, other teams go on runs. If we are consistent during the game, we have a good chance.”
Senior guard John Dawson stood out as a defensive force for the Blue squad.
“We were in the stands,” Dawson said.
“That means we were ready and alert, ready to impose our will for every play. We need to work on ball pressure and more talk, but that will come.”
In addition to Dawson, sophomore guard Ezra Talbert led the Blue squad in field goal attempts and total points, scoring 10 of Blue’s 37 points.
“Let’s get to this tournament,” Dawson said.
“This is my last year, and that is my overall goal — compete for a national championship.”
As a whole, McKay said he was pleased with the scrimmage and looks forward to the upcoming season.
“We need to keep sticking to the process,” McKay said.
“We have young guys and inexperience, so there are times when it will look really good and times when it won’t. We are building a program, not only for today, but for tomorrow as well.”
Sophomore guard Caleb Homesley finished with eight points for the Blue squad.
Freshman guard Xzavier Barmore and freshman forward Brock Gardner chipped in six points each as well.
Freshman forward Josiah Talbert scored seven points and Bradley transfer Scottie James scored nine for the Red squad.
The Liberty Flames open the season versus the Cairn Highlanders Nov. 11 at 8:30 p.m. in the Vines Center.
Ball is a sports reporter.