The 2013-2014 season will be a big one for Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team. The reason is simply that without an NCAA tournament birth at the end of this year, Dawkins will find himself looking for another job. Dawkins, who was an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, has not made the Big Dance in any of his five years as head coach at Stanford and has an overall record of 94-74. This year should be different.
The Stanford Cardinal will have star-caliber players who can play top-quality ball. The player who seems to be making the biggest impact so far this season is a 6’2 guard named Chasson Randle; he is Stanford’s leading scorer. He is averaging 21.7 points per game and scored 29 points in today’s game against the Denver Pioneers. Another player to watch is Dwight Powell, the 6’10 senior. Powel is averaging 18 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. Of course two players don’t make a team. Stanford has two other players averaging close to ten points per game, Anthony Brown (14) and Josh Huestis (9.7). Huestis is also the leading rebounder on the team with an average of eight per game.
So far, the teams record this season is 3-1, with their third win comes after today’s victory against Denver. Denver is 0-2 on the year, but their other loss was against California, so it’s tough to make a judgment about the quality of their team based on record alone. The Cardinal’s other two wins were against Northwestern and Bucknell. Their one loss was a 112-103 defeat to the BYU Cougars, who are undefeated this season after four games. Based on their performance so far, Stanford is beating the teams they should and competing with other tough teams, and that’s a good sign for fans of Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal.
Another factor to consider is the strength of the Pac-12 this year. It’s going to be a tough conference, but that’s going to be a good thing. The reason is the Selection Committee when picking teams to go to the NCAA Tournament in March, will want to pick teams that have shown they can compete with and possibly beat the best teams. A good way for Stanford to prove they can do this is to beat ranked teams, and with Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA all currently withing the top 25 teams, the Cardinal men’s basketball team will definitely get its chance. Stanford also has number 19 Connecticut and number 7 Michigan on their schedule for the middle of December.
Overall, Stanford has a good chance of making the NCAA tournament this year. They have good players and have shown they can win games they should and compete against other tough teams. Stanford’s schedule will be tough this year, but with their team, they should be able to pick up the key wins necessary to save Johnny Dawkins’ job and make the Big Dance in March.