Dan Majerle on GCU basketball: ‘I hate being average’
Grand Canyon was a buzzer-beater from starting off WAC play 8-0. Then, the Antelopes fell in three-point losses to UT Rio Grande Valley and New Mexico State this past week. While a 14-9 overall record might not appear to be progress, the context of playing in an improving conference remains important for the Antelopes.
Within the state of Arizona, there’s this: GCU ranks immediately behind the Arizona Wildcats in NET rating at 85th in the nation and 13 spots behind Arizona State at 72nd.
Maybe calibrating the Antelopes’ success next to a down year for the Pac-12 isn’t proof of improvement, but head coach Dan Majerle feels this GCU squad, in its sixth year of Division I basketball, is his most talented team yet.
Still, Majerle is fighting for his team to take a leap. He wants to shed the average label.
“I think moderation is for cowards, I really do. If I do something, I do it all out,” Majerle told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station during Doug & Wolf’s Newsmakers Week.
“I hate being average. I don’t want to be average. I said right now, this weekend after we lost on Thursday, we had a chance to not be average. Our NET ranking was all the way up to 75. You know, we win on Thursday, we win on Saturday, maybe we’re top-60, 50, right there.”
Majerle, who has led GCU from the start of its Division I inception, hasn’t gone away from coaching with the same intensity that helped him become a first-round pick by the Phoenix Suns in 1988 and three-time All-Star.
He coaches with honesty and emotion. On the recruiting trail, he puts all of his cards on the table, telling high school kids that he’ll push them, even if it comes across brutally at times.
Average basketball? Majerle isn’t here for it.
“There’s plenty of times when I go home and I hate myself because I got great kids. I think I got too nice of kids. Really, really great kids and then I go home and I’ll have yelled and screamed and went off … I’ll go home and feel bad about it,” he said. “Like, that kid didn’t deserve that. And then I come to my senses. Yeah, he did. He did.
“I’ll come back to them … it’s not so much how I’m saying it … it’s just, ‘Listen to what I say.’ The biggest thing I say to these guys is, ‘When I stop yelling at you, when I stop caring and I’m (not) on you, that’s when you really should be in trouble because you know I don’t think you have it in you anymore.'”
Majerle on how college-aged players are different than his generation: “They’re different in the fact that they’re entitled. They think it should just happen. They don’t understand: Why I’m not playing well, or why am I not starting or why am I not getting it done? Why is this not happening to me? Because you’re not putting in the time.
“Don’t come up to my office and say this because you don’t know what I did to get where I went. I’m not impressed that you came here for an hour-and-a-half and practiced and then was the first one out of the gym and went and played Fortnite and woke up in the morning and played Fortnite again and walked in five minutes before practice started, took one shot, practiced … you have to put in the time.”