Dan Majerle and the Lopes men’s basketball team are hard on their grind, in advance of the upcoming season, which will be their first as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and as a Division I school.
Majerle runs an intense, high-octane practice because he wants to get the most he can out of his players now, so they’ll be ready for what’s to come.
“These guys have played extremely hard, they’ve worked hard, they’re doing everything I ask,” Majerle said. “I’m very excited about this incoming year and about the future of our team and about Grand Canyon University.”
“I’m very happy and surprised and blessed to be here,” Majerle added.
Perhaps the intensity of the summer practices is coinciding with the intensity of Division I basketball, that’s soon to come the Lopes way.
Majerle’s played in enough big time games in his career, both in college and in the NBA. He broke it down to each and every player on what’s to come with this jump up in competition.
“I told them this was going to be a big sacrifice, a step up from what they’re used to,” Majerle said. “This is Division I, the competition is gonna go up, and they’ve really taken that to heart.”
Majerle is all about instilling discipline and his team having a hard-edged nature to it (within reason of course). He’s definitely gotten the support from the students, the faculty and the administration, which makes his job that much easier and enjoyable.
“I love it, it’s a great facility,” Majerle said. “I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve enjoyed being with these guys teaching. They’ve been receptive to what I’m trying to teach.”
“I couldn’t have been happier with my decision to come here, and I hope to be here a long time.”
Guard Jerome Garrison’s been with the Lopes a long time. He’s heading into his junior year at Grand Canyon. With so many new faces on the roster, he’s noticed no drop off in the level of work everyone’s putting in.
“I think that everyone has really upped their intensity in everything we’re doing, from weight lifting to practices to off the court stuff,” Garrison said. “With [Coach] Majerle, that’s someone that’s kinda been there, done that, so the way he pushes you is almost the same way he worked when he was in college.”
Garrison has seen guys come and go since he’s been with the Lopes. Even though he’s prepared with his game, it’s still a bit of an adjustment to new people and their tendencies.
“First, it’s a challenge because you have new guys coming in and you kinda want to stay where you’re at, so that levels the intensity,” Garrison said. “For me, it’s really amped what I was already doing and helped me out a whole lot really.”
Just because this is the Lopes first year in Division I, doesn’t mean that they can’t come in and be successful according to Garrison. He’s got a winning mentality that seems to have spread throughout the team, judging by how hard the guys go at it in practice.
“I don’t want to come in here and lose a whole lot of games just because we’re new,” Garrison said. “Honestly, I think we should try to win the conference, try to come in and beat everybody.”
“Compete, that’s all you can ask,” Garrison said. “It’s going to be different, but just compete.”