Majerle prepared, excited to take GCU basketball to the next level

Arizona Sports News online

As a player Dan Majerle was never afraid to take the big shot.

It’s clear entering his first year as head coach at Grand Canyon University he’s also not afraid to schedule the big shots.

The ‘Lopes, who make the jump up from Division II this fall, will begin play in Western Athletic Conference and plays non-conference games against the likes of New Mexico, Utah and Tulsa.

The following year we’re going to Rupp Arena and playing Kentucky

“That was the hardest thing this year, putting together the schedule,” Majerle told’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Wednesday. “Going from Division II to Division I. That’s the challenging part. We have some good games. We have Tulsa and New Mexico which is great.”

GCU will have only a year to get acclimated to the jump in competition before seeing the real heavyweights in 2014.

“The following year we’re going to Rupp Arena and playing Kentucky, he said. “New Mexico next year is coming back and playing at Grand Canyon University which is huge. As we go forward we’re going to have some really good teams coming to Grand Canyon and we expect to fill [GCU Arena]. We’re going to have an exciting brand of basketball.”

Hiring Majerle, a three-time NBA All-Star and Valley legend who got the most out of his 14-year playing career with the Suns, Cavs and Heat, was a home run for the private institution who hopes to model their program like fellow west coast mid-majors Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. Each have made deep runs in the NCAA tournament recently.

GCU offers the intimacy of small, private institution, combined with first-class facilities including their $40 million arena which opened two years ago.

Now Valley sports fans will have another option for Division I basketball and you’ll probably recognize GCU’s offense when you see it.

“It’s a lot like the Suns,” he explained. “I want us to go down and take the first shot, good shot available. We’re going to get down the floor. Spread the floor.”

Majerle said another difficult transition for GCU in his first season is going from recruiting Division II talent as the previous staff did to Division I but believes there are already some pieces in place for future success.

Seems only logical for a guy who’s had quite a bit of it on and off the basketball floor in his career.