The Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team tips off its 2017-’18 season at home on Friday night vs. Florida A&M. For Dan Majerle, it will be his 5th season leading the Antelopes program. “I would like to say that I’m more patient, but that is not true. I think expectations are higher. When we first started I wanted to compete, now I expect to win every game. I don’t care who we are playing. So I push our guys just as much as I did my first year, but the expectations are a lot higher.”
In Majerle’s first 4 seasons as head coach, GCU won 81 games, the most by any school going through a Division 1 transition period. The Antelopes are now eligible for the NCAA Tournament and have been voted by coaches and media members as the preseason favorite to win the WAC conference.
“It’s exciting. We’ve had some great teams, but this is the year we are finally eligible to play in the tournament, and that is what we have been pushing for four years. The university is ready. The president is ready. The student base is ready, coaches are ready, the players are ready.
“you have to surround yourself with people who make you better, and I have been able to do that.”
It’s going to be an exciting season, and hopefully things go our way.” Majerle said. The head coach says the goals for this year are simple. “Win the WAC, win the WAC tournament, and play in the NCAA tournament our first year. That’s what we are thinking about. That is what we have thought about for four years, so it’s no secret. I told our guys the first day of practice we are here to win the WAC. We have to stay healthy. We’ve got some really good players. Last year we were nicked up a lot, so we have to have our main pieces, Josh Braun, guys like that. If they stay healthy, we will have a good shot at it.”
For Majerle, these last four years have been a rewarding experience. “Fulfilling. It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be. A lot more work than I thought it would be, but I love it. So it doesn’t seem like work. I really love working with these young kids, watching them mature as they grow. It’s come together quick. It really has, and it’s because we have a whole university behind what we are trying to do. We are able to get good student-athletes to come play for us. They know that we care, and the backing of President Brian Mueller and Mr. Jerry Colangelo, and all of those things, have made it really quick. I would say faster than expected.”
As Majerle has watched his players mature and grow, he has evolved himself over the past few seasons. “I knew I was very impatient. I knew I was a driven guy. I knew I expected excellence from my players. The one thing I really have learned, and I have known for a long time, is that you have to surround yourself with people who make you better, and I have been able to do that. Especially with the coaching staff that I have. They cover up my weaknesses and help us get a lot better.”
— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleABC15) November 3, 2017
Majerle has had an indelible impact at Grand Canyon in a short amount of time, but his presence has been felt in Arizona since 1988 when he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. The GCU head coach’s contributions to the Valley of the Sun earned him an induction into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame last week.
“It’s a great honor. I’ve spent almost 30 years here. I’ve done a lot of different things playing, coaching, broadcasting, opening restaurants. I have really enjoyed my time here. To be inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, it’s a great honor. It’s something you don’t think about, but when you get that call, and sit down and think about it, it’s pretty cool. I love Phoenix. I love Arizona. For them to reciprocate the way they have has been great.” Majerle said.
The Antelopes head coach is now hoping to add another milestone to his already impressive resume, and take part in March Madness. “It would be the biggest party the GCU campus has ever had. I said it takes a whole university to make a good team, not just for basketball, but all of the sporting programs at GCU. So if we were to make the tournament, it would be a sight to behold.”