Drech­sel makes quick im­pact for GCU men

The Arizona Republic - - Auto Racing - Richard Obert When: Where: TV/Ra­dio: Out­look:

Trey Drech­sel’s toes were both­er­ing him enough to keep him out of prac­tice last Thurs­day.

The next day, Grand Canyon coach Dan Ma­jerle told the grad­u­ate trans­fer that he would be start­ing at point guard in the An­telopes’ sea­son-opener on Mon­day night at South Dakota State, a place where no op­po­nent had won in 20 games.

He made a quick re­cov­ery and a big im­pres­sion in his first-ever NCAA Di­vi­sion I game, scor­ing 17 points in GCU’s 79-74 loss to the reign­ing Sum­mit League champs.

“Trey did a great job,” Ma­jerle said. “He’s earned his spot.”

It’s been a bat­tle ev­ery day in prac­tice be­tween Drech­sel and sopho­more Da­mari Mil­stead on who will lead the of­fense.

Mil­stead started in GCU’s 97-60 ex­hi­bi­tion win against Di­vi­sion II Mon­tana State Billings, but he strug­gled in the first half. When Drech­sel came in, he flour­ished. He had a team-best seven re­bounds and four as­sists and chipped in five points.

Against South Dakota State, Drech­sel was GCU’s best 3-point shooter, mak­ing 4 of 9, while the rest of the An­telopes made 5 of 25.

Drech­sel, 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, is a nat­u­ral shoot­ing guard, but he is able to han­dle the point-guard du­ties. He uses his length and quickly de­liv­ers sharp passes to open team­mates.

“It’s been a nat­u­ral ad­just­ment since I’ve got­ten here,” said Drech­sel, who made first-team All-Great North­west Ath­letic Con­fer­ence last sea­son at Di­vi­sion II Western Wash­ing­ton, where he av­er­aged 14.9 points, 7.2 re­bounds and 3.9 as­sists. “There’s a lot of nu­ances that I need to learn.

“I know the play­book in­side out. But a lot of times I don’t know what we’re try­ing to get out of the play. There could be a play where (6-10) Aly (Lever) has a mis­match. It’s just notic­ing that sec­ond part of why we’re run­ning the play.”

Drech­sel al­ready got a sense of the Hav­ocs, one of the loud­est and most en­gag­ing stu­dent sec­tions in col­lege bas­ket­ball, dur­ing GCU’s ex­hi­bi­tion. GCU Arena was nearly full at 7,000 for that game.

On Satur­day, when the An­telopes play their home opener against Delaware State, it will be in­tense again.

“That was crazy,” he said. “That’s

SATUR­DAY’S GAME Delaware State at GCU

7 p.m. GCU Arena. Yurview Cox 4,KQFN-AM 1580, KRWV-FM 99.3

Delaware State is com­ing off a sea­son-open­ing 81-56 loss to East Carolina. It was Eric Skeeters’ first game as head coach of the Hor­nets. Saleik Ed­wards made 6 of 13 3-point­ers and scored 22 points for the Hor­nets. Their first four games are on the road.

how I en­vi­sioned col­lege bas­ket­ball be­ing like. The last school I was at, the most we’d have at a game was about 2,000.”

Ma­jerle said he needs bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion from his team after the loss at South Dakota State.

“We’ve got a lot of room for improve­ment,” he said. “I think we’ve got a chance at be­ing re­ally good. But we’ve got to do a bet­ter job of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively. So we didn’t play that well.”

Lever, who en­tered the sea­son as the Pre­sea­son Player of the Year in the Western Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, got into foul trou­ble and played just 21 min­utes, scor­ing nine points with just three re­bounds.

Guard Car­los John­son, a trans­fer from Wash­ing­ton, strug­gled in the first half, be­fore fin­ish­ing with 17 points.

Se­nior for­ward Michael Finke started hot but fin­ished with just 10 points on 4-of-9 shoot­ing. Ju­nior for­ward Os­car Frayer had nine points and made just 2 of 8 shots, in­clud­ing 1 of 4 from be­hind the arc.

“Michael played well in spurts,” Ma­jerle said. “Car­los had a great sec­ond half but an aw­ful first half. We have to get more con­sis­tent.

“We took 34 3s and I think six of those were bad shots. We’re go­ing to take those shots when they’re open. We just didn’t make them. That’s fine. It’s the first game of the sea­son. But of­fen­sively we were bad and de­fen­sively we were bad and we still had a chance to win.”

Drech­sel be­lieves it will come to­gether.

“I feel chem­istry is su­per high,” he said. “I think we’re sur­prise at how good we are, quite frankly. I don’t think we went in there ex­pect­ing to win. South Dakota State hadn’t lost there in 20 games. But we got there, and we’re like, we’re more tal­ented, we’re big­ger, faster.”

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