Grand Canyon may be in only its fourth year of Division I, but the Antelopes know plenty about what it’s like in big-time college basketball.
Since leaving Division II status for Division I in the 2013-14 season, the Antelopes have played at Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville and Duke. Former Suns star “Thunder” Dan Majerle, the Antelopes’ coach, has also scheduled games at Utah, New Mexico and San Diego State.
The only victory of these seven road games was against the Aztecs last season. Bottom line: His roster that has seven juniors and seniors and graduate transfer Darion Clark from USC has seen it all. A trip to McKale Center on Wednesday night (9 p.m. tipoff, Tucson time) is not something that will unnerve Majerle’s players in his burgeoning program.
“We’re not intimidated by anybody … any environment,” Majerle said in a video released by Phoenix ABC-TV Web reporter Shane Dale today. “We’ve played at Duke, (and) at Kentucky, and we play in front of a great crowd, so our guys enjoy that.
“We’re playing a great team, so that’s going to be the biggest thing.”
Majerle welcomes the opportunity to play Arizona, ranked in the AP Top 25 for 84 consecutive weeks now with its No. 19 ranking this week. He believes Grand Canyon’s program, presently in the WAC, can join the Wildcats at a high level.
“We just have to go out there and play hard for 40 minutes … try to get better … improve,” Majerle said. “We always like to play Top 20 teams because like I said, eventually that’s what we want to be … we want to be a top 25 team.
“It’s a good experience for our guys. We just have to go down there and compete.”
Grand Canyon guard DeWayne Russell, the nation’s second-leading scorer at 25.4 points a game, told Dale the Antelopes are already battle tested after playing at Duke earlier this season.
“I think Duke is probably one of the toughest places to play in the country,” Russell said. “Having that confidence we played there gives us confidence that we can play any where. We’re going to go down there with our best foot forward and play as hard as we possibly can and we’re just going to try to get after them.”
GRAND CANYON’S BIG-TIME ROAD GAMES[table “” not found /]
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.