GCU head coach Dan Majerle has ‘best job in the country’
Dan Majerle has an affinity for his current position as head coach of the Grand Canyon Antelopes. He knows there’s more work ahead to accomplish his lofty goals.
His resume includes building the GCU program from a Division II program to challenging for an NCAA Tournament berth in its first year of eligibility, and it might indicate he could leave for a rebuilding job at a bigger school.
But the former Suns great can’t see himself coaching anywhere else, at least not by his own accord.
“I think it’s the best job in the country,” Majerle told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “No, it’s true. Why would I leave? I work for Brian Mueller, President Mueller — who’s one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met in my life — Mr. Colangelo, a great bunch of kids, an unbelievable campus that is growing.
“We got one of the best student sections in all the country,” Majerle added. “I’d be crazy to leave. Plus, I haven’t done what I was supposed to do yet. They’ll probably fire me before I want to leave.”
What Majerle is supposed to do is lead GCU to an NCAA tournament appearance. In its first year of eligibility for the tournament and with a current record of 17-9, the ‘Lopes have an opportunity to get there by winning the WAC tournament, which begins March 8 in Las Vegas.
Learning the college game
Using his 14-year playing career experience and his six years experience as an assistant coach with the Suns, Majerle is still learning as a coach and adjusting his style to an ever-changing collection of talent.
“A year ago we were more of a running, up-and-down the floor, transition, secondary break, don’t throw the ball inside that much, pick-and-roll and then DeWayne Russell, who was unbelievable, scored,” Majerle said. “This year we can’t do that. I have kind of tweaked my offense now where we’re looking to go inside.”
Defensively, watching what has worked for top teams and staying on top of the college basketball landscape, along with using what he learned coaching the Suns, has helped him gameplan.
“I watch every defensive set. Virginia is the No. 1 defensive team in the country. I just study it,” said Majerle. “I take a lot from Elston Turner when he was defensive coach with the Suns. I take a lot of stuff that we did with the Suns there and try to implement it at GCU.”
GCU succeeding on recruiting trail
Another major hurdle for Majerle upon taking the GCU job in 2013 was learning how to recruit. Slowly, the Antelopes have begun gaining steam.
Majerle recently earned a 2018 commitment from Champaign, Ill., swingman Tim Finke, a four-star prospect before an injury led to a drop in his ranking.
“I look back and I’m amazed at how much I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything, you know? The biggest thing for me is I hired Todd Lee, my associate head coach. He kind of pushed me along in that area. I went in blind, but you learn quickly,” Majerle said.
It’s especially easy now that the Antelopes are NCAA Tournament eligible.
“For GCU right now, we’re at the point where we got to get the best player available,” Majerle said. “Like I think Virginia and those teams can kind of recruit to their strengths and what they need. If I go recruiting and I have a chance to get this really, really good kid but he may not fit my system so much, but he’s really — really good — well I can’t turn that down.”