Since we last saw the Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team, they had just finished a season with 23 wins and a trip to the division II NCAA Tournament.
It was one of their best seasons ever.
But a lot has changed since.
The ‘Lopes are now a division I program as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, they have a new head coach by the name of Dan Majerle and they traveled to Europe over the summer and competed in exhibition games against international competition.
But now it is back to business as the GCU gears up for a much anticipated 2013-14 season.
“We have had a good jump on the season because of the European trip so we were able to put in a lot of different things early,” said Majerle. “These guys have been going at each other for a long time which is a good and a bad thing…They want to play against other people.”
The ‘Lopes as a team may be new to division I, but there a new comers to the team this season who are not. They had two players transfer in in the offseason as a graduate transfer and will use their final year of eligibility with GCU. The players include Jeremy Adams who comes from Colorado and Demetrius Walker from New Mexico.
Walker is a familiar face to the valley as graduated from St. Mary’s high school in Phoenix and also played one year for Herb Sendek and ASU. Majerle intends to look to his leadership on the floor this season.
“Demetrius is going to be a big part of our team, he’s just got to stay healthy,” Majerle mentioned. “He’s got to push himself too. To be a leader, you have to be one of the harder working guys, you’ve got to be a guy others want to follow. So he’s got to step up his game, he is definitely a talented kid.”
With new challenges come new questions as it pertains to the ‘Lopes on the court. They don’t know exactly where their strength is on their basketball team but there is one thing that they do know for sure.
“I know our guys are going to play hard,” Majerle mentioned. “They are well conditioned. They want to do well, they just have to believe in the system and have got to do what we practice when it’s game time…They have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes and that’s getting out and running and doing things they aren’t used to doing and picking up their game all around.”
There are familiar faces returning though. Back in purple is sharp shooting senior Blake Davis, big man Killian Larson and Jerome Garrison who will be stepping into a new role at point guard this season with the starting unit. Two years ago, Garrison was the team’s freshman MVP.
The ‘Lopes have had one exhibition game already in Milwaukee last weekend and have one more tune up game against UC San Diego on Friday. Then the regular season begins at Loyola Marymount on November 8th.
“Our goal is to keep improving every game,” Majerle explained. “I think our guys know they have a long way to go, it’s a process and we want to be playing our best basketball come the WAC.”