Dan Majerle’s Grand Canyon University basketball team is battling through more difficult stages than most college basketball teams this season.
Majerle’s team is thriving in their third season of the transition from Division II to Division I. They are 22-4, bringing national buzz to the program.
“(The) state (of the program) is great,” Majerle said on Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “We’re way ahead of schedule. Third year in our transition period from Division II to Division I. Fifteen games first year, 17 games last year and we’re sitting at 22-4.”
That form is something the Antelopes would want to take into postseason play, but that’s not even an option this season. GCU can’t play in the WAC’s postseason tournament this season and is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament until 2018.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get your guys motivated to play for something because you play so hard and there’s not really anything at the end of that saying that ‘okay you’re playing for this,’ so it’s hard for our guys,” Majerle said.
The motivation Majerle speaks of ties into the end goal for the program: getting GCU into the top 25.
“We want to be a top 25 team, but we’re not even close to being that yet,” Majerle said. “I admit that. We have a ways to go. It takes time, it takes patience, it takes a while to develop a top 25 team.
“That’s what drives myself and my coaching staff with our players every day that this isn’t good enough. You guys think you’re good enough, we’re not.”
The goal of finishing in the top 25 comes with having a tougher schedule, something that is on the way next season.
“Next year is going to be hard,” Majerle said. “There’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road. You look at our schedule next year, we’re at Duke, we’re at UofA, at Penn State… Our schedule is going to be really tough next year.”
Judging from the results this season — which include victories over San Diego State and New Mexico State–, Majerle thinks his team still has some major growing to do.
“We’ve had great wins, but we need to get to the point where we’re really good night in and night out and we can’t afford to lose to a Seattle at home. Just can’t do it in a conference. New Mexico State doesn’t do it, why should we?”