Through the first couple weeks of the season the Grand Canyon University basketball team is realizing Division I life may not be as easy the second time around. The Lopes dropped to 2-3 falling behind midway through the first half and never recovering Tuesday losing 80-64 to Bobby Hurley’s Buffalo Bulls (3-1). GCU would get no closer than 10 in the second half after trailing by 13 at intermission.
One problem which continues to hinder Dan Majerle’s team is their inability to put the ball in the basket. GCU has yet to score 70 points in a game this season. They clearly miss the inside presence and rebounding of Killian Larson who is now playing professionally overseas in Europe. Killian led the Lopes in scoring and rebounding last season.
Former Sunnyslope High star, Washington State senior transfer Royce Woolridge (team-high 19 points Tuesday) has shown leadership and scoring ability, as has Dan’s nephew, Ryan Majerle but front court scoring has been a problem. Daniel Alexander, who averaged just under 13 points a game, has struggled. He was held scoreless Tuesday (0-5 from the field) and had as many fouls as rebounds (four). The senior is shooting just 36% from the field.
The issues extend past Alexander as GCU’s team average (around 38%) ranks near the bottom in all the country. Expect former Peoria High standout and NAU transfer point guard DeWayne Russell, who will be eligible next month, to spread the floor and create easier opportunities for Woolridge, Alexander and fellow senior Jerome Garrison. Russell was the Lumberjacks best player as a freshman before deciding to transfer back to the Valley.
The road will get no easier and warmer as they head out to play Majerle’s alma mater Central Michigan on Saturday and Illinois-Chicago on December 2nd.
There’s still plenty of time for GCU to hit their stride before opening WAC play January 10th against Bakersfield.