Team preview: Liberty

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 31, 2006, 10:46 PM ET
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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

COACH AND PROGRAM

Larry Blair's declaration for the NBA draft last spring was a little premature, and there are a lot of Big South coaches sorry to see the league's most talented guard back for his senior season.

Ultimately Blair decided to return to Liberty, and while several other Flames from last year's 7-22 charbroiled disaster are gone, this team could be ready to turn the heat back up with an infusion of new talent.

Start with the 6-1 Blair, who was second in the Big South in scoring at 22.6 per game, third in steals (2.03 spg), fifth in free-throw percentage (.799), ninth in three-point field-goal percentage (.356) and 13th in assists (2.7 apg).

"He improved his ball handling and passing over the summer," LU coach Randy Dunton said. "He's a tremendous scorer and he did a lot of that without much help around him. Hopefully, we've changed that."

If Dunton hasn't changed the mix, it certainly wasn't for a lack of effort. Incoming freshman B.J. Jenkins of Virginia Beach, Va., is likely to start the season at point guard opposite Blair. The 6-1 Jenkins averaged 21.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists at Green Run High School and was a first team All-Beach District selection three years in a row in one of the state's toughest regions.

And while Jenkins looks like a fantastic future Flame, he's likely just keeping the spot warm until second semester, when Providence transfer Dwight Brewington becomes eligible to run the show. Brewington averaged 13.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists two years ago for the Friars. He's obviously an impact player in the Big South and even more so as a 6-5 point guard with two years of eligibility left.

"We can play him anywhere from one to four; he can score inside and out," Dunton said. "He becomes eligible Dec. 16, so that's going to be like an early Christmas here." Last in the Big South in scoring last year (63.8 ppg), the Flames hope to reignite the offense with Brewington and some more shooters to help take the heat off Blair.

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