Lopes’ Head Coach looks to bring winning pedigree to Team White
By: Mack Drake/GCU Staff
If there was ever a coach perfectly suited to guide the Grand Canyon University Men’s Club Basketball White team into the next decade — and beyond –it would be Lamont Lane.
Put simply, Lane has a history of winning. The head coach of GCU’s Team Purple last season, Lane comes from Purdue University in Indiana, where he led the Boilermakers to a National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) title in 2017.
He’s focused on recapturing the same hardware in 2020, this time donning the GCU purple and white.
“Basketball is my passion,” said Lane, who is in his first year as head coach of Team White, succeeding GCU Club Basketball Director of Operations Matt Gordon. “At Purdue, my only goal was to win. I’ve learned here at GCU that it’s about building character, responsibility and a culture of family. That’s what separates GCU from any other university in the nation.”
Lane’s path to the desert – and coaching – was anything but predictable.
Lane started his college career as a player with big dreams at East-West University in Illinois. After a year there, he decided to take his chances as a walk-on at Chicago State University before later transferring to Purdue to finish out his degree.
While at Purdue, Lane decided to stay involved in basketball by volunteering to coach the school’s club team. He got the job, and enjoyed a solid first season with Purdue in 2015-16. Sensing he had a talented roster, Lane went into the 2016-17 season with big expectations.
“When we finished my first year there (Purdue), I knew we had a great team,” Lane said. “It simply came down to overcoming a lot of the road blocks in place by the Purdue administration, which somewhat stifled my ability to coach and get the guys ready.”
Lane was right.
Despite battling resistance from administration, the Boilermakers went 15-3 in conference play in 2016-17, earning an at-large bid to the 2017 NCBBA Championships at Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Ohio. Purdue then won three straight games, including a thrilling comeback victory over the University of Pittsburgh in the title game.
“It was a great feeling,” Lane said. “We knew we had the team to get it done, it was just a matter of putting it all together at the right time.”
A potential long and storied career at Purdue for Lane was derailed by constant conflicts with school administration, which came to a head after the Boilermakers captured the NCBBA title. The ongoing issues led Lane to leave the school.
“Purdue administration would not recognize the championship, accept the trophy or hang the banner,” Lane said. “We were not fully registered as a club team with the school. (We were) only considered a student-led organization. The school’s temperament towards the team left players and parents disgruntled. I took the school’s actions personally and decided to pursue coaching elsewhere.”
That elsewhere turned out to be Lope Country. Lane, who was already enrolled in online Sports Marketing and Management classes at GCU, was aware of the buzz surrounding the GCU Club Sports program, and was interested joining the men’s club basketball team in some capacity. He took one visit and moved to the desert three months later.
“The more I researched, the more I wanted to be part of the club sports here,” Lane said. “I wanted to be somewhere like GCU, where administration supports its club athletes and coaches 1000 percent. The students, club staff and administrators all made me feel at home from the beginning.”
Lane attributes his growth as a coach to learning under great leaders, including GCU Assistant Director of Club Sports Mark Nelson and Gordon, who was Team White’s Head Coach for two seasons.
“Lamont has been great,” Gordon said. “It was a bit of trial by fire for both of us last year. He really learned how to manage the game and make key decisions. He’s awesome with the guys, and he’s grown into his own as a leader. He’s really a servant leader, and I’m a believer that when you serve others, you’re going to be successful.”
“One of the biggest things Matt and Mark both taught me was the importance of player relationships,” Lane added. “I saw that firsthand last year coaching under Matt. Understanding that life goes on after basketball and using the game to teach life lessons is something I really focus on.”
Lane has Team White out to a 2-1 start in 2019-20 NCBBA play, taking two of three games against Arizona State University in GCU’s opening series. The Lopes are back in action with a game against ASU Downtown on January 23.
Interested in joining GCU Men’s Club Basketball? Visit the team page to learn more!