The basketball season is officially underway as the Grand Canyon men's and women's basketball programs hosted their annual Midnight Madness event to tip off the season. Midnight Madness is one of the best events on campus. The Havocs came out and showed why they were on of the best student sections in the country. Dan Majerle rolled into GCU arena riding a brand new Harley Davidson...if you want to check out all the Midnight Madness antics go check out GCU Odyssey's Editor in Chief’s article here. However, with Midnight Madness over, we can finally talk about the hype surrounding GCU Hoops!
There is a lot of hype going into this basketball season after the Lopes had an astounding 2015-2016 campaign. In their fourth and final year of transitioning to a Division 1 program, the Lopes will hope to build on previous success. There are a lot of storylines following the final year of the Division1 transition period. Unfortunately, the Lopes are still ineligible for the postseason, but there are a lot of things to be excited about this year.
Since Dan Majerle's arrival at GCU, the Lopes have played a tough, non-conference schedule. The Lopes will play five Power 5 schools during the 2016-2017 basketball campaign, and they will host two of them in the confines of the GCU arena.
November 13th @ Duke
The Lopes start the season playing in the Naismith Hall of Fame Kickoff; on the road against the number 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils in the notorious Camden Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils are the headline 7/2 favorites to win the National Championship this season. GCU has the opportunity to travel to Duke, due to the USA basketball connection between Mike Krzyzewski and GCU athletics ambassador Jerry Colangelo. This is the second time in three years that the Lopes will open up against the preseason number 1 team. It’s unlikely the Lopes will be able to pull off a monumental upset against a Duke team loaded with the nation’s top talents like: Grayson Allen, Amir Jefferson, Frank Jackson, and Jayson Tatum. Fortunately for the Lopes, Harry Giles, the 2016 top recruit and presumed number 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft, will most likely be unavailable for the beginning of the season while he recovers from a knee injury. This very talented GCU team will show up to compete, and the Lopes will put up a good fight that will turn a few heads. The Lopes will face huge tests, as they will have the opportunity to measure up against one of the best programs in college basketball.
November 13th @ Penn State
After battling with the Blue Devils and Camden Crazies, the Lopes travel to Happy Valley on November 15th, to face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State is a Big Ten program, but they have been in a rebuilding stage for the last couple of years. The Penn State game is a very winnable game for the Lopes. A win against a Big Ten program would be a huge jump start for the Lopes.
December 3rd Louisville @ GCU Arena
Lopes fans have been patiently waiting for this game since the scheduling agreement with Louisville was made three years ago. College basketball teams with a program pedigree like Louisville NEVER travel to play mid-major programs. Louisville will play their first true road game to the GCU arena in front of The Havocs. Rick Pitino and the Cardinals have no idea what they are getting into. Without a doubt, this will be the biggest home in GCU basketball history. Despite losing all of their key contributors from last year, Rick Pitino should turn the Cardinals into a Top 25 contender once again. Vegas suggests they will be a National Championship contender as a third tier betting favorite at 35/1. Louisville will send out a talented, yet a very young and inexperienced team. The Cardinals will be led by McDonald's All-American V.J. King. The Havocs will have the pleasure of introducing the young bucks of playing on the road in college basketball. The Havocs will have an opportunity to introduce themselves to the college basketball world on a national stage. This is a game you don’t want to miss.
December 7th San Diego State @ GCU Arena
The Lopes will host another premier college basketball program in San Diego State. Last year, the Lopes beat the Aztecs 52-45 at Viejas Arena. The win at San Diego State was a huge marquee win for the Lopes. The Aztecs rarely lose in front of their home crowd. This year, the Aztecs will travel to GCU, hoping to return the favor. This is a home game you will not want to miss.
December 15th @ Arizona
This will be your best excuse to travel to the Dirty T. After ASU President Crow called for a PAC-12 embargo on GCU athletics, the GCU basketball team will finally face their first PAC-12 team in the Wildcats. Arizona is a premier basketball program and will allow for the program to gain exposure in a different part of the state. Expect a big group of Havocs to travel to Tuscon for a matchup against the Wildcats and the Zona Zoo.
You Need to Know About...
Darion Clark #23
The Lopes replaced Grandy Glaze with another grad transfer in Darien Clark. Clark battled injury throughout his time at USC. Although his stat line of 2.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game look very underwhelming, Clark was a key contributor to USC’s breakout season last year. The Trojans struggled mightily when Clark was not on the floor. USC went 19-7 when Clark played, and went 2-6 when he didn’t. Clark is a great rebounder and will thrive in Majerle’s system.
Oscar Frayer #4
The Bay Area prep star may be the most athletic recruit Majerle has brought to Lope Country. Frayer averaged 15.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks in his senior year of high school. Frayer’s size and athleticism presents a lot of upside in his game. Frayer is a raw talent who still has plenty of room to grow. Frayer is a representative of the future direction of the GCU basketball program. Expect many exciting plays from #4 this year.
Shaquille Carr #3
Lopes get another star from the Southern College of Idaho. Carr played a year with GCU forward Keonta Vernon. Carr has great court vision demonstrated by his league leading 6.6 assists per game last year. Carr will fill the void left by Deandre Davis. Carr will be needed to be a sparkplug off the bench.