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GCU’s Focus on Fundamentals in February Can Lead to Madness in March

Alessandro Lever, #25 and Josh Braun, #2

The WAC regular season schedule is near the midway point, and GCU, the pre-season pick by coaches and media to win the conference, is currently tied for third place. The Antelopes and Seattle both have 4-2 records in WAC play, while New Mexico State leads the way at 6-0, followed by Utah Valley at 5-1. GCU fell to Utah Valley 68-56 in Orem on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get back to playing good defense. Last game was rough. We’ve got to get our offense going again, and if we start making some shots, and running our offense a little more smoothly, we’ll be alright.” GCU senior guard Josh Braun said.

GCU will try to get back to their winning ways with a pair of home games this week.

“Our defense has been solid all year, but we still have got to get better at it. We’ve got to stop the ball. Offense has been struggling all year long. We’ve gone different places. Obviously Ali (Alessandro Lever) has been really good here as of late. It’s been good to develop him. We’ve got to get Josh going which has been really hard because everybody keys in on him.” GCU head coach Dan Majerle said.

Braun, who averaged 17.5 points per game last season, has dropped to 13.8 points per contest this year. The senior guard is the lone Antelope averaging in double figures. Lever has averaged 24.8 points in the last 4 games, and was named the WAC player of the week for January 15th – 21st. That’s when the freshman from Italy averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds in road wins against UMKC and Chicago State, who will be at GCU Arena to face the Antelopes this Thursday and Saturday respectively.

Josh Braun, GCU guard

“Both games are important. We’ve just got to focus on getting better. We’ve got to take care of our home court. UMKC and Chicago State, they’re going to come in here and play hard. We have to come out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.” GCU senior guard Casey Benson said. GCU junior guard Gerard Martin adds, “winning changes your emotional state, brings camaraderie back to the team. So hopefully these next 2 games we can get things clicking, and then have some big games in a few weeks.”

Although GCU is currently 2 games behind New Mexico State for first place in the WAC, they know there’s plenty of time to make a move up in the standings with 5 of their remaining 8 games at home. “We’ve got some big games coming up. We’re at New Mexico State. We’ve got Utah Valley coming here. We’ve got Seattle coming here. So we’ve got to win every game, that’s just the way it always is in the WAC. If you lose 2 or 3 games, you know you are not going to win the WAC. So we’ve just got to take care of business and put ourselves in the best position to be in the tournament.” Majerle said.

Coach Dan Majerle

The Antelopes senior backcourt is hoping that focusing on the fundamentals in February will lead to madness in March. “At the end of the day we’ve just got to get better. We’ve got about a month left in the regular season. Obviously we are going to try and win out. We are going to take it one game at a time, but we’ve just got to continue to get better, continue to focus on the process, and just be playing our best basketball in March.” Benson said. Braun adds, “The rest of conference play we’re trying to win it, but the games that really matter come in March when we are in Las Vegas. Right now we are preparing and trying to see if we can come out on top of this.”

Grand Canyon University schedule