Grand Canyon overcomes equipment fiasco on first day in Denver
March 16, 2023 Updated Thu., March 16, 2023 at 8:05 p.m.
DENVER – Facing a program like Gonzaga, Grand Canyon probably figured it would have to overcome a series of challenges this week if it planned on advancing in the NCAA Tournament.
The Lopes couldn’t have anticipated their first hurdle in Denver.
Grand Canyon’s basketball team went equipment hunting on Wednesday, coming up with whatever it could find when much of the team’s gear and apparel was left behind in Phoenix as the 14th-seeded Antelopes traveled to Denver for a first-round NCAA Tournament matchup with third-seeded Gonzaga.
When the team practiced on Wednesday, a handful of players wore GCU T-shirts, but there weren’t enough to go around, so coach Bryce Drew bugged brother Scott – coaching Baylor at the same NCAA site this week – for any help he could offer. Denver-based NCAA Division II program Regis University also pitched in.
“We had kind of a group of jerseys,” Bryce Drew said. “Grand Canyon, we had St. Regis. We had GCU T-shirts and we had Baylor scout jerseys. We improvised, and the guys made a good time of it, so it actually turned out as a positive.”
The team also made a pit stop at a local Nike store, outfitting its players with new sneakers while their own were still in transit.
“It actually worked out,” GCU guard Ray Harrison said. “It was good for us because everybody got a new pair of shoes, so it was good.”
A team spokesperson told the Arizona Republic “portions of our baggage, including team practice gear and athletic equipment was not loaded by the ground crew at the airport this morning.” GCU travels on a charter plane, out of Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, to its road games.
Twelve bags of team-issued gear arrived in Denver Wednesday night after the Antelopes finished their first NCAA practice.
“It was fun. It definitely added another step of enjoyment to this trip, something we can look back and remember and have a good laugh,” GCU forward Gabe McGlothan said. “But we’ve been dealing with adversity all season, so it was nothing new. Nobody’s fault, just unfortunate, and just, so I’m excited to add to it.”
The Antelopes lost guard and preseason Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jovan Blacksher to a knee injury midway through the season and overcame other ailments to win a conference championship and qualify for the program’s second NCAA Tournament.
Relatively speaking, Wednesday’s incident was just a minor hiccup.
“This group has been really loose throughout the last few weeks of conference tournament,” Drew said. “They had a confidence to them, but they also had a looseness to them that they were enjoying it. We haven’t seen a shift in that through the travel, through getting here. They’re still a confident group that’s doing it with a loose personality nature.”
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