PHOENIX — Last Saturday the balls were rolled out.
What soon followed was the sound of basketballs bouncing off the gym floor, shots swishing through nylon nets and the echo of sneakers squeaking throughout the arena.
In that moment the Dan Majerle era officially began at Grand Canyon University.
Majerle is the new head coach at Grand Canyon, the first head coaching job for the Traverse City native and former NBA all-star.
Majerle was hired for Grand Canyon’s men’s basketball head coaching vacancy in March. In the seven months since then Majerle’s life has been a whirlwind of travel for recruiting and a 10-day team trip to Europe. Now that practice for the season has begun, Majerle can put his focus solely on getting his team prepared for its first season of Division I basketball.
“It’s exciting,” said Majerle, who is one of Traverse City Central’s all-time greats, then went on to a stellar career for Central Michigan, followed by a 14-year NBA career that was spent predominantly with the Phoenix Suns, but also included stints with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. “Grand Canyon’s been one of the best Division II programs in the country for quite a while and they’ve had a lot of success. The ability for me to be on board and transition into Division I is going to be a great experience and it’s a lot of fun, but it comes with a lot of expectations. The group that we have here, the university, the president, with (sports executive) Jerry Colangelo being involved, they’re expecting great things. It’s nice to have those expectations, but it brings a lot of pressure too. I’m going to have to develop this program pretty quickly, which is not an easy thing to do when you’re jumping from Division II to Division I, but I’m looking forward to it.”