Grand Canyon using NCAA Tournament run as springboard for next year

Mar 30, 2024, 1:59 PM

Bryce Drew reacts during a game...

Head coach Bryce Drew of the Grand Canyon Antelopes reacts to a play during the first half against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 24, 2024 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It was another year of forward progress for the Grand Canyon men’s basketball team led by head coach Bryce Drew.

For a second consecutive season, the Antelopes punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

But unlike last year’s first-round exit, No. 12-seeded GCU caught fire in an 75-66 upset win over No. 5-seeded St. Mary’s.

It marked yet another first for a program that hadn’t advanced past the first round in its two other tournament appearances (both under Drew).

And while the Antelopes’ run came to an end the following round in a 72-61 loss to No. 4-seeded Alabama, Drew is hopeful GCU’s success caught the right kind of attention to make a deeper push in the 2025 edition of the tournament.

“Really exciting for our program and our university just with how many eyes got to see us and got to see us compete at the highest level,” Drew told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “That’s really built a lot of momentum. The biggest part’s recruiting. You’ve got to have a good roster. We’re hopeful that momentum’s going to carry to the next couple months and help us build a really good roster for next year.

“Our goal is to get back to that game and win that game and keep advancing. Some of our players have already talked about that, how they want to get back to that opportunity and have that chance again.”

With that added attention, though, comes added chatter surrounding Drew’s future in Phoenix given the success the program is having under his tutelage.

At least for now, it sounds like Drew is just as excited as his returning players to run it back for another chance at making more history at GCU.

“I love what we’ve built here in four years,” he said. “I don’t think we’re done yet. We’re really excited for next year and getting some players back. It is the portal season, so nowadays more kids than ever are looking to transfer and we’re looking to build a great roster for next year.

“I love where I’m at, I love this school, love our team and want to keep this thing going and get even further.”

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