To support lower journey and the risk of COVID, the ASUN adopted a new scheduling format this year where groups would play on back-to-again nights towards the same group at the exact same website each individual Friday and Saturday all through the men’s basketball season. Many mid-significant conferences across the region have adopted a equivalent scheduling format for this time.
This has created an appealing dynamic with a lot of teams splitting the weekend collection. It’s also presented an gain to teams who are further and much more mature in getting equipped to bounce back swiftly from a reduction.
“These back again-to-backs are distinctive,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay claimed previously this yr. “There is a psychological part of it that you have to be really mentally well prepared for it. There is a psychological component of this. You have received to have some maturity and psychological toughness to get a sweep.”
For Liberty, it has been a lot a lot more hard to play at its most effective in the first activity of the back again-to-back again with the Flames just 1-2 on Fridays in ASUN play and a excellent 3- on Saturday. The Flames’ only get on Friday came in opposition to Kennesaw Condition who is currently -8 in convention engage in this season. Liberty gained that video game by just six points when rebounding on Saturday to get by 29 factors.
In the games on Friday, Liberty is letting 68.3 details for every sport to its opponents, as opposed to just 51.6 details for every match allowed on Saturday. The Flames enter this weekend’s video games at Jacksonville (9-7, 3-3) keeping opponents to 59.1 details for every game on the season, superior for 5th ideal in the state.
In the initial Friday night ASUN sport, which transpired on New Year’s Working day at Lipscomb, the Flames fell powering by 24 factors in the 1st 50 percent. Devoid of McKay on the sideline, the Flames responded with a 20-3 run to reduce the Bisons direct to as close as 4 factors in the 2nd 50 percent but ended up not able to finish the comeback.
A week afterwards, Liberty fell guiding Kennesaw State, who resides in the ASUN basement, 12- and did not score a place for in excess of eight minutes to begin the video game. The Flames would eventually turn factors all around and hold off the Owls for the team’s only get in conference play on Friday.
In the Flames’ preceding Friday night time recreation, Liberty led Stetson 29-20 late in the first half and preserved that guide until eventually halfway by means of the next 50 percent in advance of in the end falling to the Hatters on the road.
“It’s been like a Rubik’s Dice, for me” McKay mentioned when requested about his team’s struggles on Friday. “Is it a coincidence that we just have not performed wonderful on Friday evening or is there a little something to it? We’ve been seeking for solutions. We experimented with to tweak practice in the way we did it this 7 days, but I also know our group is maturing.”
That Rubik’s Cube has an further twist to it this 7 days as the Flames put together to face Jacksonville in Florida Friday and Saturday night this weekend. Friday night’s activity will be the initial time Liberty has hit the court for a sport in 13 times, getting not played considering that the Flames defeated Stetson, 68-58, on Saturday, Jan. 16. With the extra 7 days off, McKay gave his workforce off Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday a week ago, as the crew practiced Monday and Thursday and experienced a scrimmage on Saturday.
“I’m not positive what to anticipate tomorrow,” McKay said. “I’ve watched other groups who have experienced obligatory breaks due to the fact of COVID or contact tracing and it looks like there is a very little bit of rust to shake off. We perform a truly excellent Jacksonville group that is confident and nicely coached.”
The only prior time Liberty has experienced an extended crack of much more than 6 times this season was in excess of Christmas when the Flames went 10 online games in in between game titles against Alcorn Condition and Lipscomb. Liberty dropped that sport to the Bisons in Nashville on Friday night time, 77-70. The Flames played that activity without the need of having McKay on the bench or traveling to the video game as he experienced tested positive for COVID-19.
“Not to sound like an justification, but Scottie (James) and Myo (Baxter-Bell) and Georgie (Pacheco-Ortiz) and Caleb (Homesley), they knew,” McKay defined. You did not have to tell them, ‘Hey, this workforce is truly fantastic and they are able.’ People guys realized. They experienced been through it. They’ve been by means of the lows and felt the disappointment. This team is continue to in that follow. I hope we are greater (Friday) night, but if we’re not, we’ll go back again to the drawing board board and try out to figure out how to do a thing different.”