You’re never too old to go back to school.
After a quarter-century as an NBA player, broadcaster or assistant coach Dan Majerle decided to give college a try and things couldn’t be better after hitting his one-year anniversary at Grand Canyon University.
In their first season in Division-I Majerle led the Antelopes to 15 wins, a third-place Western Athletic Conference finish and a post-season birth in the College Invitational Tournament. He also helped elevate the program and the University as many on the west coast have become quite familiar with the private school in central Phoenix.
So what can you do for an encore?
“We did so well last year the expectations really went through the roof,” Majerle told Sports360AZ.com before their first official practice Friday morning. “We have to really play well this year. We have to build on that momentum…we have to go to work everyday. We have to play harder than everybody else.”
Majerle will have to do it without the services of steady center Killian Larson who graduated and is now playing professionally overseas after averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds in his final season. There’s still plenty of offensive firepower returning in seniors Jerome Garrison and Dan Alexander, as well as transfer help in fifth-year senior Royce Woolridge who transferred from Washington State. Garrison, the former Mountain Pointe High star, has been lauded by Majerle for his leadership skills on and off the court.
The Lopes will also benefit playing in the expanded GCU Arena which now seats close to 7,000 and is arguably the nicest facility in the WAC. The 2,200 added seats will likely be filled as the hoops program continues to excel.
“It’s a huge home-court advantage,” Majerle explained, “It feels like you’re sitting right on top of the floor. It’s a great atmosphere. We have 20 home games which is big, especially for our second season in Division I.”
From the day he was hired he promised to play the biggest and best programs, regardless of where and when.
Mission accomplished in year two.
GCU will host NCAA tournament regulars New Mexico and Harvard, as well as travel to likely pre-season number one Kentucky for their season opener. A month later they’ll travel to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.
It’s a challenge which brings a smile to Majerle’s face.