LAS VEGAS - In their first year of NCAA Tournament eligibility, the Grand Canyon Lopes men's basketball team came one victory short of getting there.
Following Saturday night's loss in the WAC Tournament championship game, fifth-year Lopes coach Dan Majerle said he was proud of everything his Lopes accomplished this season, but reiterated the goals he outlined for the program since the day he took the job.
"We're expected to win the WAC, we're expected to win the (WAC) Tournament, and we're expected to go to the NCAAs," Majerle said after GCU's 72-58 loss to top-seeded New Mexico State at Orleans Arena.
"We expect to be a top-25 team, and if we don't expect to be here, then I ain't gonna be here, and those guys understand that. Is that a lofty goal? Of course it is. But that's just the way it is."
The Lopes trailed the Aggies by double digits at halftime but rallied to cut NMSU's lead to three points late in the game. Majerle acknowledged the fight his team showed against a very talented opponent, and he reflected on his team's run all the way to the championship game.
"This was a great step. Five years in (NCAA) Division I and we're winning 20-plus games," he said. "So, they know what's expected of them, and next year, it's gonna be the same thing.
"We're gonna grind it out, we're gonna work hard every day, we're gonna get after it... we're gonna continue to recruit, and we're gonna be a top-25 program. Period. That's it. So, they know what that's all about, and if they don't want to be here, then leave."
The Lopes will reload for the 2018-19 season, and they already have a four-star recruit lined up for next season -- Tim Finke, the most heralded recruit in Lopes history. Finke, along with WAC Freshman of the Year Alessandro Lever, will return to a GCU team that will once again have the goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
But they had better be ready for everything Majerle will once again demand out of each and every one of them.
"I recruit guys (with them) knowing that I expect a lot out of them," he said. "I ain't stopping, and they know I'm not stopping."