LYNCHBURG, Va. — Another day of the off-season is almost in the books, but not without more schedule releases across the country.
Four teams released their non-conference schedules on Wednesday, with the most notable coming from the VCU Rams. The Rams scheduled heavy this season, with contests against the likes of the North Florida Ospreys, Virginia Cavaliers, Texas Longhorns, and a trip to Maui for the Maui Invitational.
Other schools that released their non-conference schedules on Wednesday include the NJIT Highlanders, George Mason Patriots, and Liberty Flames.
As more teams release their schedules, we are then able to piece together schedules for other teams who have yet to announce their full slate of games. Nobody in the MEAC has officially released their non-conference schedules, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know some of the slated contests for the 2017-18 season.
On Wednesday, we learned that the Patriots and Flames will each play host to a pair of teams from the MEAC during the 2017-18 campaign.
Liberty is a team that many expect to contend for a Big South crown this season, and for good reason. The return of guards Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, Lovell Cabbil, and wing Ryan Kemrite give the Flames one of the top back court rotations in the conference, and will provide a ton for coach RItchie McKay on both ends of the floor.
Add in the return of Caleb Homesley, who averaged 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds last season but only appeared in 10 games, and the Flames have a ton of young talent at their disposal.
Up front, redshirt sophomores Myo Baxter-Bell and Scottie James will look to build off strong freshmen campaigns, while the team will look to get some big minutes out of 7’2” freshman Brendan Newton.
On November 27th, the Flames welcome the Howard Bison to town, which will be the middle game of a three-game homestand for the Flames after they return from the Paradise Jam.
Liberty will have their hands full with Howard’s own star guard, in sophomore Charles Williams. As a freshman, he averaged 15.6 points per game, while shooting 39.6% from the floor.
The Bison went 10-22 last season, and finished in a tie for 11th in the MEAC with a record of 5-11.
A week and a half later, the Flames open up a mini two-game home swing with a visit from the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks on December 8th.
The game will be a battle of strong back court rotations, as the Hawks will combat the Flames’ rotation with the likes of Ryan Andino, Logan McIntosh, Dontae Caldwell and freshman Cameron Bacote. Both groups are strong on the offensive end of the floor, so it will come down to who can get stops at key moments in the game.
Maryland-Eastern Shore finished up last season with an overall record of 14-20. They finished sixth in the MEAC standings, with a record of 9-7. The Hawks fell in the conference tournament semi-finals to the North Carolina Central Eagles.
George Mason will play host to the Eagles on December 8th, and the Morgan State Bears on December 22nd.
Liberty opens up the 2017-18 season on November 10th with a home date against the Clarks Summit Defenders as a part of the Paradise Jam tournament.
– T. Bennett