Liberty Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Liberty Flames
Big South (15-20, 6-10)

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As the five seed in the Big South North Division, nobody expected Liberty to do much during the conference tournament. But the Flames got hot at the right time. Coach Dale Layer may not have had his team playing their best all season long, but he did get the most from his team during the tournament. With wins over Coastal Carolina, High Point, Gardner-Webb and then Charleston Southern in the Big South Tournament final, Liberty is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

Big Wins: 2/13 at Campbell (82-80), 3/5 at Coastal Carolina (78-61), 3/10 vs Charleston Southern (87-76)
Bad Losses: 1/19 at Presbyterian (60-68), 2/19 at Longwood (101-102), 2/26 Virginia Military (66-83)
Coach: Dale Layer (4 seasons at Liberty)

Why They Can Surprise:
The Flames can win games because of their outside shooting. Davon Marshall is a prolific outside shooter who connects on 43.3 his attempts from beyond the arc. And he will take a lot of shots from beyond the arc. Casey Roberts is a capable outside shooter too and will usually provide a nice offensive spark off of the bench. But the most dynamic scorer is John Caleb Sanders. He does a great job attacking the basket and is a fine shooter and the best passer on the team. If the Flames are going to do anything at all in the NCAA Tournament, those three will need to consistently knock down the long ball. Tavares Speaks is another high scoring guard. The 6-4 senior is not a shooter, but he can use his size and strength to get to the basket effectively.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The frontcourt has some talent, but a lack of size and strength has hindered Liberty this season. JR Coronado is a great rebounder, averaging 8.2 per contest. Tomasz Gielo can stretch out the defense with his shooting ability, but the 6-9 sophomore is not a big time scorer or rebounder. Joel Vander Pol, at 6-10 and 230 pounds, has the size to help out on the glass, but he is not much of a scoring threat either. And nobody is a major force on the defensive end either as far as blocking shots goes. The Flames will need to work hard on the glass, but scoring on the inside would help get more open looks for the shooters on the perimeter. And getting the most out of Marshall, Roberts and Sanders from beyond the arc is the only way the Flames will stay in a game against a top team in the nation.

Probable Starters:
Devon Marshall, Junior, Guard, 13.4 ppg, 2.8 apg
John Caleb Sanders, Junior, Guard, 14.2 ppg, 3.5 apg, 4.0 rpg
Tavares Speaks, Senior, Guard, 13.1 ppg, 1.2 apg
Tomasz Gielo, Sophomore, Forward, 7.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
JR Coronado, Junior, Forward, 5.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Casey Roberts, Junior, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 1.0 apg
Andrew Smith, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Joel Vander Pol, Junior, Center, 4.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.1 (134th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.9 (256, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (197, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (135, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (99, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.3 (51, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.6 (64, 2)
Rebound Margin: -0.7 (203, 8)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (210, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.4 (182, 7)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2009    CIT        First Round win over Rider
2009    CIT        Second Round loss to James Madison
2004    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to St. Joseph's
1994    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to North Carolina

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules