While the Phoenix Suns have been garnering local and national headlines for being one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season, there's another Valley basketball team that has shocked its fair share of people, too.
In their first year as a Division I program, the Grand Canyon Antelopes have been one of the big surprises of the Western Athletic Conference. The 'Lopes are currently 12-11 and tied for second place in conference play at 7-3 with six games remaining.
One of the amazing things about that record is that it's been reached after GCU's top player, Demetrius Walker, was dismissed from the squad.
"We had an unfortunate incident halfway through the year, I had to kick off my best player and my starting point guard," first-year head coach Dan Majerle told Doug and Wolf as part of Newsmakers Week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. "Two guys I really liked, but they weren't getting it done and they weren't doing the right things.
"It was a really tough decision, because at the time, we had five scholarship players and some walk-ons."
Walker had averaged nearly 17 points per contest in GCU's first nine games and point guard Jeff Lowery had played in all 31 games for the 'Lopes a season ago.
"I was going into games with absolutely no bench, just walk-on guys, so it was a tough decision," Majerle said. "I told our team, 'it's not about me, it's not about you, it's about Grand Canyon University and it's about this program for years to come and you guys are the building block for what we're doing.'
"When we're in the NCAA Tournament four years from now, you guys can look back on this and say you were part of this and you built this on your hard work and your values and what you were about and how you represented GCU."
The message has been received loud and clear by the players still on the roster. Since the dismissals of Walker and Lowery, GCU has gone 7-5 under Majerle, who has a message for potential fans in the Valley.
"It's exciting," he said. "You'll love our kids and how hard they play. If you haven't been on campus, check it out -- it's a hidden gem at 35th Avenue and Camelback.
"To go in that arena with our sound system and our 80-student pep band with the boards and the things it's got going on -- and then just watch our kids play. We will play extremely hard, we play a great style of basketball. Next year, we're going to have some really good teams in for some home games. I promise you, if you come to a GCU game, you won't be disappointed and you'll be back."
Schedule for the week
Dave Tippett and Lon Babby are in-studio on Tuesday for Newsmakers Week.
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Friday and the full week
- Greg Byrne: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part two
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part one
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Thursday
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Wednesday
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Tuesday
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Monday
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Bryan Sperber, PIR President - Friday February 14PIR president Bryan Sperber closes out Newsmakers Week with Doug and Wolf.
- Greg Byrne, UA Athletic Director - Friday February 14Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne sits in on Newsmakers Week.
- Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals GM - Friday February 14Cardinals GM Steve Keim joins Newsmakers Week.
- Kevin Guy, Arizona Rattlers Head Coach - Thursday February 13What should the NFL implement from arena football?
- Herb Sendek, Head Coach ASU Basketball - Thursday February 13Can ASU make the tournament in March?
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President and CEO - Thursday February 13When does Derrick Hall think things will heat up with the Dodgers?
- Brian Mueller, GCU President - Thursday February 13Brian Mueller explains what attracts athletes to GCU.
- Jim Pitman, Mercury General Manager - Thursday February 13How do things look on the business side of the Mercury organization?
- Ray Anderson, ASU Athletic Director - Wednesday February 12Ray Anderson explains why he took the job at ASU.
- Jason Rowley, Suns President - Wednesday February 12Where are the Suns trending financially?
- Jerry Colangelo, Godfather of Phoenix Sports - Wednesday February 12Jerry Colangelo comes in studio for an entire hour!
- Dan Majerle, Head Coach GCU Basketball - Wednesday February 12Dan Majerle explains the recruiting process.
- David Rousseau, AZ Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman - Tuesday February 11Find out how Glendale is preparing right now to host next year's Super Bowl.
- Lon Babby, Suns President of Operations - Tuesday February 11Eric Bledsoe's future with the team and the relationship between the Suns and Dan Majerle.
- Dave Tippett, Coyotes head coach - Tuesday February 11Dave spends his Olympic break with us in studio to discuss the playoff race his team is in.
- Tim Esmay, ASU baseball coach - Tuesday February 11Tim describes the competitive nature in recruiting high school athletes.
- Tom King, 2014 Waste Managment Phoenix Open Chairman - Tuesday February 11Tom explains how the Phoenix Open continues to be a huge success year after year.
- Charli Turner Thorne, ASU Women's basketball head coach - Monday February 10How is the women's basketball program at ASU doing?
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Monday February 10The D-backs made moves on the mound
- Jeff Hornacek, Suns Head Coach - Monday February 10Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek joins Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week.
- Keith Baker, GCU Athletic Director - Monday February 10How long until GCU can make the NCAA tournament?
- George Gosbee Phoenix Coyotes Co-Owner - Monday February 10Live update from the Sochi Winter Olympics.