2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 9, Grand Canyon Lopes

Grand Canyon

2014-2015 record:  17-15

2014-2015 WAC record: 8-6 (tied for 2nd in the WAC with UMKC)

2014-2015 non-conference home record:  8-6

2014-2015 final RPI ranking: 279

Best wins in 2014-2015:

Random Stat:  Both UNO and Grand Canyon lost at Chicago State and at UMKC.

2014-2015 post season:  75-70 loss to Northern Arizona in the CIT

Grand Canyon University…  Last season, on the first night of college basketball, I was reading through ESPN’s bottom line for all the basketball scores to my wife.  I tell her that Kentucky beat Grand Canyon by 40.  My wife, who knows more about college sports than most people immediately says “who the (expletive) is Grand Canyon, is that even a real school?”  About a month later we learned that one of her best friends from high school was enrolled in grad school at GCU.

At first glance, I am kind of scared of GCU as an opponent.  I am partially scared because they are in the middle of transition, and I feel like they could have added incentive for this game to beat a team that just finished transition; to show that they are ready for the next step.  I am also worried because they have Thunder Dan as their head coach, and they have Thunder Dan’s kid as one of their main players.  It’s just you know…Thunder Freakin’ Dan.  I really hope the Mavs are getting a return game with Grand Canyon in Omaha next season.  I know a handful of Suns fans that would go to a game just to see Thunder Dan, which I think is weird to go to a sporting event just to watch a coach, but whatever, I would pay money to go watch Phil Jackson take a nap at a Knicks game.  With possibly Thunder Dan and Brian Fish as coaches to see at Baxter Arena in 2016-2017, the Mavs could have a pretty fun home non-conference schedule next season, but I am not ready to look at 2016-2017 yet.  I am not ESPN wanting to discuss the 2019 NFL draft already with a half stock.

Grand Canyon has Thunder Dan signed until 2019.
Grand Canyon has Thunder Dan signed until 2019.

The Lopes have had a winning record since transitioning to Division 1, and they have been invited to the CIT two years in a row.  Looking up their schedule over the last 2 years, I immediately get angry and scream out “HOW THE HELL WERE THEY ABLE TO PLAY A CONFERENCE SCHEDULE IN THEIR FIRST YEAR, I THOUGHT THAT WASN’T ALLOWED!!!!”  It’s Thunder Dan, isn’t it?

The schedules that they have come out with each season have not been all that difficult since transitioning.  They are playing the WAC to load up their conference schedule, oh the WAC.  Their non-conference wins last season were against: Montana State (323), Florida A&M (350),  Illinois-Chicago (297), Bethune-Cookman (344), New Mexico (175), Abiline-Christian (326), and UC-Riverside (239).  So while they finished with a 17-15 record in 2014-2015, it does feel a little inflated, especially considering that all of those wins were at home.  It is not like the Mavs had a string of much more impressive wins last season, but I am just saying that GCU’s 17-15 record does not sound as impressive as it looks when you look at it as far as just win totals and a post season trip.

Seriously, how are they getting all of these games at home?  Is it because everyone wants to go to Phoenix in November and December?  The Lopes non-conference home schedule before Omaha gets there this season is: Portland State, Black Hills State, Alcorn State, Hampton, Central Michigan, and Southern.  Did they just look up an old Creighton non-conference schedule and copy and paste it?


Key losses:

Royce Woolridge- 6’3″:  10.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 46 fg%, 74 ft%, 32 3ptFG%

Daniel Alexander – 6’9″:  9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 44fg%, 89 ft%

Jerome Garrison- 6’3″: 7.8 ppg, 3,3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 48fg%


Key returners:

DeWayne Russell- 5’11”, SR:  14.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 41 fg%, 76 ft%, 14-32 3ptFG

Joshua Braun- 6’4″, SO:  11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 46 fg%, 78 ft%, 38 3ptFG%

Ryan Majerle- 6’3″, SR:  7.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 44 fg%, 82 ft%, 38 3ptFG%

De’Andre Davis – 6’1″, SO:  5.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 52 fg%


 

Aside from returning these four guys, the Lopes will get to add a couple graduate transfers to their team.  A 6’6″ forward from Saint Louis, Grandy Glaze, who sat out last season due to an injury.  Glaze averaged 3.8 ppg and 4.5 rpg for the Billikens while shooting 48% from the field.  There is also Grant White from Jacksonville state who is a 6’1″ guard that played in 13 games as a junior and averaged 3.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 apg for a team that went 12-19 and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley.  The Lopes will also have a 6’8″ graduate transfer from Coastal Carolina named Uros Ljeskovic who did not receive much playing time in his junior season at Coastal Carolina.  How in the hell is a transitioning school getting so many graduate transfers?  Does this have anything with them being a public university listed on the NASDAQ?  Actually they are a private school, but they a public…seriously this makes you want to shut down.  I claim unfair advantage.  It sounds like they figured out the cheat code to play as Goro against Mortal Kombat right now, that’s not fair, you have to play as Kano like the rest of us.  Damn it, I hate Kano.

The Lopes also have a transfer from Memphis named Dominic Magee, a 6’4 guard who was rated a 4 star athlete out of high school.  He picked transferring to GCU over LSU, and had offers to UCLA and Arizona out of high school.  He redshirted last year at Memphis and transferred at the semester, so I am unclear if he will be playing for the Lopes in the first semester of 2015-2016, or if he will have to wait until January.  This just sounds pretty scary.

Really, I do not think that the Lopes have much competent size on their team, so I really hope the Mavs can get Jake White and Tre’Shawn Thurman going in this one, and the Lopes were already one of the worst rebounding teams in Division 1 last season.  With the guards they have coming back, the graduate transfers coming in, and this Magee looking like he could be the greatest thing that the WAC has ever seen; it appears that this team is actually pretty stacked in the back court.  As much as I am sure the Lopes will have an added incentive to beat the team that just finished transition as a measuring stick for themselves, I seriously hope the Mavs will have added incentive to not lose to a team that is still in the transition stage they just got out of.

It does not really look as if this team has been too terribly tested in the last two years.  They did have receive spankings at the hands of Kentucky and Indiana last year, but I think those are games that transitioning teams go into their second year and just write off the second they read them on the schedule.  I don’t even want to look back at the scores of some of the Mavs games in year two of transition.  One thing that does make me feel slightly better about looking at the Lopes is the fact that they were swept by Chicago State last season.  Talk about the least interesting conference match up that God could ever come up with.  They did sweep Seattle though, damn it this is confusing.

 

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