Dan Majerle 'having a blast' as Grand Canyon University head coach
His voice is hoarse.
The whistle around his neck is begging for a break.
Dan Majerle has dived headfirst into his first gig as head coach.
"I'm having a blast. I really am. It's re-energized me, to tell you the truth," he said this week before traveling to Las Vegas for the inaugural USA Basketball Fantasy Camp, where he will serve as one of the coaches.
Majerle, a fan favorite in the Valley who spent eight of his 14 years as a player in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, is four months into a job that will see him lead Grand Canyon University in its first season in Division I as part of the Western Athletic Conference.
"Coming here and working with kids who really want to learn, who are eager to get better, it really has energized me and I've had a blast," he said. "It's a job. It's 7-to-7, seven in the morning to seven at night, but I couldn't be happier doing it."
Coaching, though, is nothing new to the three-time NBA All-Star.
Majerle, 47, spent the last five seasons as an assistant with the Suns, hired by Terry Porter and then continuing in that role under Alvin Gentry.
"Just remembering now that I'm dealing with college athletes and not professional players," said Majerle, describing the biggest adjustment he's had to make. "Professionally, I was spoiled because those guys were so good and these guys have a long way to go as far as improving. You've got to catch yourself thinking that they know things that they probably don't know."
Majerle, who in 2010 was among the candidates who interviewed to become the Philadelphia 76ers head coach, finds himself as more teacher -- especially the fundamentals -- than head coach.
"Little things you take for granted in the NBA you may not have here in college, but these guys work extremely hard and they love to learn," he said.
GCU just ended eight weeks of offseason workouts, in which Majerle and his staff were allowed two hours of on-court instruction each week.
"Our motto is we're going to be hardest-working, most-conditioned, most-unselfish, nastiest team in the league. That's what we're going to be," Majerle said. "We're going to be very good defensively, I hope; 100 percent hard play and then we're going to get out and we're going to try to push the ball."
It's a style of play and a commitment to playing the game the right way that he learned playing for Cotton Fitzsimmons, Paul Westphal and Pat Riley.
"Play the way I liked to play and the way I played myself," Majerle said.
GCU coaches and players will reconvene August 4, when they'll begin 10 days of practice ahead of a trip to Italy and Greece for a four-game exhibition tour from August 14-24.
Craig Grialou, Reporter