Colangelo: Grand Canyon basketball will continue to grow
While Grand Canyon waited four years to compete beyond the regular season, head coach Dan Majerle wasted no time turning his team into a prominent mid-major program.
But Majerle’s mentor and four-time NBA Executive of the Year Jerry Colangelo believes there is still room for improvement. An Arizona sports icon, Colangelo was named to the position of special assistant to the university president in 2013 to help with the transition to Division I and helped the school hire Majerle.
GCU thrived while serving its NCAA-mandated probation, finishing in the top three of the conference standings in each of the past three seasons. Eligible for the NCAA Tournament and NIT for the first time in school history, the ‘Lopes are in fourth place with a 17-9 mark, 6-4 in conference, as their postseason hopes face uncertainty with four games remaining.
“We haven’t played up to our capacity. We’re short on offense,” Colangelo told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “We’re looking to address all these issues going forward.”
During the move from Division II to Division I, GCU has faced adversity on many fronts. If the program wants to compete for a Western Athletic Conference title, it’ll have to overcome another challenge: New Mexico State.
The Aggies have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of the past four seasons and have won the regular season crown or conference tournament in each of Majerle’s first four seasons.
New Mexico State most recently swept the season series against Grand Canyon with a 74-70 win on Feb. 10. WAC Preseason Player of the Year and ‘Lopes leading scorer Josh Braun was held to 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting in the loss.
Only earning an automatic bid by winning the WAC Tournament will advance GCU to the NCAA Tournament, meaning it will likely need to go through the Aggies to make the postseason.
Hired in 2013, Majerle came to GCU coinciding with the Antelopes’ transition into Division I. With an 81-46 record through four seasons and undeniably one of the strongest home court advantages in college basketball, the former Phoenix Suns all-star quickly put the ‘Lopes on the map.
“When you have an opportunity to be part of something that’s on the bottom and can make contributions to help it get to a different level, that’s exciting,” Colangelo told Doug & Wolf.
Although GCU has late-season adjustments to make, Colangelo thinks that the ‘Lopes are still in a position to compete.
“Think about the teams who finish wherever they finish in their conference, but won the conference title, and they go to the tournament,” Colangelo told Doug & Wolf. “We still have a shot. We’re right there.”