Liberty men’s basketball coach Ritchie McKay secured his 300th career win as a head coach, as his team defeated Grand Canyon University, 70-61, on Sunday. The win also made McKay the winningest coach in Liberty basketball’s Division I history.
— Liberty Men's Basketball (@LibertyMBB_) December 9, 2019
Furthermore, Liberty remained one of five unbeaten D-I teams in the country this season, along with Auburn, Duquesne, Ohio State and San Diego State. Liberty stands at 11-0 for the first time in school history, bringing McKay’s career total at the school to 135 wins in seven seasons leading the Flames.
McKay’s first and second seasons at Liberty were in 2007-08 and 2008-09, the latter of which he posted 23 wins. But after two seasons at the helm at Liberty, McKay departed for Virginia to be an associate head coach under Tony Bennett. McKay returned to his head coaching role at Liberty for the 2015-16 season.
The Flames have steadily improved under McKay’s tutelage. They were under .500 in McKay’s first season back, but have since recorded three consecutive 20-win seasons. Last year, they won a school-best 29 games, including a first-round upset of No. 5-seed Mississippi State in the NCAA Tournament.
“Hard to process immediately after, but I want to give God all the glory,” Mckay told the national TV audience after the big upset. “Obviously, we don’t do it without a Christ-centered program. And I just love our guys.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) March 23, 2019
It was the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament victory. McKay won the Jim Phelan Award for his efforts all season long, which is presented annually to the top coach in Division I basketball.
The 2019-20 Flames are led by senior guard Caleb Homesley and senior forward Scottie James, both of whom played pivotal roles in Liberty’s success a season ago. McKay’s team is defensive-minded, deep, experienced and talented. It seems poised for another extended run through the postseason.
McKay’s boldness in his faith is suited well for Liberty, a large private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Va. McKay appeared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast this past February to discuss his job at Liberty and his relationship with Jesus.
“I’ve always been unashamed of who I am in Christ,” McKay said.
Aside from Liberty, McKay has also coached at New Mexico, Oregon State, Colorado State and Portland State. His first season was in 1997 with Portland State.
McKay’s undefeated Liberty Flames will face an SEC foe the next time they suit up, Saturday at Vanderbilt (6-2). The game is at 8 p.m. ET on SECN+.
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