CHAMPAIGN — The Grand Canyon men’s basketball team’s postseason stay was a short one. After losing to New Mexico State in the WAC championship game — and losing the one NCAA tournament bid for the conference — the Antelopes dropped a 77-63 game at West Virginia in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational on March 20.
Tim Finke played 18 minutes off the bench against the Mountaineers, finishing with two points, three rebounds and one assist. Turns out those were the last 18 minutes the Champaign Central graduate and 2018 News-Gazette Player of the Year would suit up for Grand Canyon.
Finke spent the time after the Antelopes’ season-ending loss in Morgantown, W.Va., looking back on his season.
The consensus he reached was Grand Canyon no longer fit, and he informed coach Dan Majerle of his intent to transfer Tuesday morning.
"The biggest thing for me when I was reflecting on it was the style of play in sense of ball movement and player movement," Finke said Tuesday afternoon about his decision to transfer. "Those two things are huge for me. There wasn’t a whole lot of that this past year.
"I thrive in that. When the ball’s moving, there’s energy, and that’s something I can really benefit from. There wasn’t as much of that as I thought there might be here at GCU."
Finke said his conversation with Majerle actually went well.
"He was really respectful of my decision and said he wants the best for me," Finke said. "If that’s not here, he can respect that. Him saying that meant a lot. … That’s the relationship we’ve been able to have. It’s all respect from both directions."
Finke played in all 34 games this season for Grand Canyon, mostly as a reserve guard save for a trio of starts early in the year. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing 15.8 minutes per game and shooting 37 percent from the field and three-point range and 56 percent at the free-throw line.
"I had a lot of ups and downs, which I think every freshman does, but I was able to learn a lot about myself on and off the court," Finke said. "That’s big for me. I definitely value this year a lot, and being able to learn from somebody like Majerle was beneficial to my growth. I’m just looking to have more growth wherever else I go."
While Finke’s stay in the desert will ultimately be short, he still took a positive from his lone season at Grand Canyon. He now has a better idea of what he wants in a future basketball home.
Still, where that future basketball home might be is now the question.
"I really don’t know what to expect in terms of which schools call and reach out," Finke said. "I’ve been through the process once, and I’ve learned a lot. Going through it this time around I’ll be a lot more precise on exactly what I want and exactly what I desire. It will be better."
The Finke family went through a similar — but not identical — situation last spring when Michael Finke moved from Illinois to Grand Canyon as a graduate transfer. That experience might lend some help in terms of what to expect, but Jeff Finke, Tim and Michael’s father, said he expects Tim’s situation will be different.
"It’s more like high school recruitment than it is college recruitment," Jeff Finke said. "We’re going to wade through. Honestly, with Michael it was every school that wanted to reach out had to get a release from Illinois. With this new database, the transfer portal, I don’t know how it’s going to work.
"We have no timeline, no plans and no agenda. We’ll talk through what’s the next step. That’s basically where we are."
Michael Finke ended his lone season at Grand Canyon as the Antelopes’ third-leading scorer. A couple of 30-point performances in the final month-plus of the season sent the 6-10 forward out on a high note, and Jeff Finke said his oldest son was currently interviewing agents with the intent to continue his basketball career as a professional.
Tim Finke, meanwhile, will try and pull from his oldest brother’s 2018 offseason now that he’s hitting the reset button on his college basketball career.
"It comes down to finding your right fit," Tim Finke said. "Michael wound up having a really good year here, so he found it. … I know a lot more about myself and a lot more about everything that can help me thrive in a program."