As a young player Dan Majerle never backed away from taking a big shot.
Now as a young head coach he’s not backing away from taking on college basketball’s big programs.
“Gonzaga is a team we’re trying to model ourselves after,” Majerle told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Monday morning. “A mid-major who turns themselves into a power.”
The Grand Canyon University head coach knows he’s got a ways to go to equal the Zags long-run of consistent success but believes he’s making progress as the Lopes continue their transition to Division I.
“I thought we had an up-and-down year but I thought we played well,” he said of GCU’s 17-14 record and second-place finish in the WAC. “We had nine new players, a lot of freshman. So we expected it to be a little bit rough this year. We lost a lot close games. I thought for the most part we played well.”
The ‘Lopes still have the opportunity to end the season on a high note, starting with their CollegeInsider.com Post-Season Tournament (CIT) opening round game against NAU (19-14) Wednesday at GCU Arena.
“They’ve had a great year this year,” Majerle said of the Lumberjacks who lost a close, controversial game over the weekend to Montana in the Big Sky Tournament. “They’ve played really well so look forward to playing them Wednesday night.”
He also said he’s looking forward to watching how the NCAA Tournament unfolds, particularly since he and the ‘Lopes already got an up-close-and-personal look at number one overall seed Kentucky who opened their season with an 85-45 win over GCU in Lexington back in mid-November.
“The big thing about them is not only how talented they are but how deep they are,” he said of the Wildcats. “They can just keep running seven-footers out there. But as you know anything can happen in a one-game setting.”
Majerle’s hoping the one-game setting allows Canyon to keep extending their season and inch closer to the 20-win mark with a win over the ‘Jacks on Wednesday night.