With Saturday's victory over Park View, the Liberty Eagles are 8-1, equaling the entire number of games they won all of last season. Coach Jeff Frye admitted he thought it might be next season before the team would, in his words, "make some noise," but that was before Davon Deans transferred to Liberty from National Christian Academy.
Deans, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, has teamed with guard A. J. Brown, forward Russell Booker, and center Jeff Washington to form Liberty's core.
"Davon is an athletic specimen," Frye said. "He can run, he can jump. He's tough to guard right off the dribble because he's so quick. We haven't seen somebody that can guard him both inside and outside right now." Deans is averaging 15 points per game, second on the team.
Washington, Liberty's 6-foot-6 center who had a game-high 26 points against Park View, is the team's leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game. "Jeff has a real good touch for a big man, and his shot-blocking ability is good as well," Frye said.
Brown, a 6-1 guard, is Liberty's best defender and always draws the assignment of shutting down the opponents' top scorer. "Some nights he'll get 12 shots, some nights he'll get two," Frye said. Booker is a stocky 6-3 forward who can shoot the three--pointer effectively, and Frye calls him a "smart player."
Liberty's other three-point threat is senior Travis Walker, who last month had three three-pointers in a victory over James Wood, and followed that up the next night with five more in a win over Stone Bridge.
Last season was the first on the varsity team for Washington, Brown, and Booker. With several seniors graduated from the 2000-01 squad that advanced to the Virginia Region II tournament for the first time in school history, the Eagles won only eight games. But Frye saw great improvement from all three in the offseason.
"All of them needed to get stronger," Frye said. "They worked really hard in the weight room. Going from the 10th to 11th grade they matured not just physically, but mentally."
-- Dave Yanovitz